The Minister of Environment and Tourism has given assurance that the head of new anti-poaching unit will be a Namibian national.
As government continues to devise measures to combat poaching in the country, the ministry was granted permission for 495 additional posts to establish a dedicated Wildlife Protection Service, for which the recruitment process has commenced.
Commonly known as the anti-poaching unit, Minister Pohamba Shifeta last week indicated that the top job-which is that of deputy director-will be given to a Namibian national.
“The job will be given to a local person for sure, but we want a security person who is technical and skilled that can develop ideas on how we can tackle poaching, not someone who wants to come and learn on the job,” Shifeta said.
Currently about 50 trainees are undergoing training at the training centre in the Waterberg area. Shifeta said the ministry roped in foreign experts to train the locals who will eventually form part of the unit.
“We are training new people so that they can join the unit. However, we are also training our rangers and wardens so that they can all be on par,” he said.
Shifeta was mute on talks that the ministry has submitted a recommendation to the Public Service Commission(PSC) seeking its blessings to appoint former Nampol Regional Commander Commissioner Ndahangwapo Kashihakumwa.
“It was just a discussion we had with him, he was not necessarily approached. We are still in the process of appointing a head with assistance of the PSC. That skill is rare because it must be someone with extensive experience in that field,” he said.
The Patriot is however privy to information that Kashihakumwa’s appointment is only awaiting approval from the PSC and that all terms have been agreed to at this point.
The ministry faces another predicament as far as the unit is concerned, because despite getting the greenlight to establish the unit, no additional budget provisions were granted to fill these posts.
The ministry must “now rely on internal savings to fund the unit.”
“We are now working on a domestic and international fundraising strategy as our resources will not be sufficient to sustain the necessary intensive level of counter-poaching activities,” said Shifeta in April when he delivered the ministerial budget speech in the National Assembly.
He also said at the time that to better safeguard and preserve the vulnerable ecosystems found within national parks and protected areas the MET has conducted a number of situation analyses to establish the current state of poaching.
According to Shifeta, the analysis particularly relates to the challenges, needs and the costs that require to be met to effectively address poaching and to develop an operational plan to meet this important objective.
MET has since acquired a helicopter for our anti-poaching efforts and it has gotten Cabinet approval for the use of advanced technology such as unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) to assist in efforts to combat wildlife crime.
“An excellent level of collaboration has been established between our Ministry and the Ministries of Safety and Security (especially the Namibian Police) and Defense, and personnel of these institutions are deployed in our most vulnerable areas.
We have gone to great lengths to sensitize investigating officers, prosecutors and the judiciary to our plight and the need for coordination and caution against the granting of bail to persons apprehended. We have facilitated the training of such officers and we have also constructed a training school for our own staff in anti-poaching tactics and operations,” he said at the time.
The current legislation that deals with wildlife protection and law enforcement matters, namely the Nature Conservation Ordinance, 1975 (4 of 1975), is being reviewed and strengthened and work is far advanced on a Protected Areas and Wildlife Management Bill which we plan to finalize during the next financial year.
In the interim, bills to amend the Nature Conservation Ordinance, 1975 (4 of 1975) and the Controlled Wildlife Products and Trade Act, Act 9 of 2008 to increase fines and penalties for poaching, trafficking and other related offences have already reached parliament.
“As the Ministry of Environment and Tourism continues to prioritize the conservation, care and control of the use of the country’s plant and wildlife so that both current and future generations may reap their benefits, the Ministry is taking all possible innovative and practical steps to support and ensure the sustainability of these often-threatened resources.”
The Ministry of Environment and Tourism has developed a National Strategy on Wildlife Protection and Law Enforcement in cooperation with the Ministry of Safety and Security, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Justice, Office of the Prosecutor General, Office of the Attorney General and the National Central Intelligence Service.
The strategy provides for specific measures and approaches on dealing with the issue of wildlife protection and law enforcement in the country.