Anti-poaching fight bogged down

A fleet of grounded vehicles, vacant positions and a painfully slow procurement process are some of the challenges impeding elimination of poaching in the country, Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta has said.

“Some vehicles have only minor problems and we therefore cannot put on hold the work due to these minor problems.”
The minister further said that the recruitment process needs to be expedited and that vacant positions need to be filled immediately.

Shifeta also pointed out that the ministry’s procurement system operates at a snail’s pace and there is a serious need to address these factors if poaching is to be eliminated in the country.
According to him, the aim of protecting wildlife should be on preventing animals from being killed illegally and not just following up after they are killed.

“Perhaps the most effective component of wildlife crime prevention is that of establishing and maintaining law enforcement or security on the ground.”
The minister said poaching, especially that of elephants and rhinos, remains the biggest challenge for the ministry.
“The challenges currently being faced requires that we continuously require support to those doing field work particularly those tasked with the responsibility to guard against the illegal killing of wildlife in terms of moral and technical capacity as well as administrative.”

According to Shifeta, the ministry’s fleet management requires serious intervention. He said it is not acceptable that many of the ministry’s vehicles are grounded due to mechanical problems and to solve the problem, dedicated well-trained and well-equipped staff is required.

Therefore, the need to fast-track the implementation of the recently approved Wildlife Protection Service also known as the Anti-Poaching Unit is very important.
He added that strategies also need to be reviewed and new strategic approaches need to be implemented on law enforcement and wildlife protection following the situation analysis that has been finalised on poaching in Etosha National Park, Palmwag and the Bwabata National Park.
According to Shifeta, the ministry in the 2015/16 financial year experienced a major budget cut which caused some serious challenges in implementing certain projects.
He cautioned that should there be another budget cut in the next financial year the ministry should prioritise its activities in order of significance to insure more impact is created with very little resource.
A very import priority for the ministry is the upgrading of the infrastructure in protected areas in particular the fence of the Etosha National Park which requires urgent attention.
“We need to complete the fencing of our Etosha National Park. This will prevent poaching and reduce human wildlife conflict.”

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Dr Malan Lindeque also expressed concern about the poaching crisis in the country saying it has become a serious threat.
“If we hear how these syndicates are operating in other countries in the region it is truly frightening and they are here too. This has become a low-level war and the question is are we ready for this? Nobody should underestimate what we are up against.”