Organized meat poaching a big concern in Namibia: Minister

Grants Gazelles and Zebra. (Photo: AFP)

Organized meat poaching has become a matter of grave concern and currently makes up over 50 percent of all wildlife crimes in Namibia, the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta said Wednesday.

The country needs to reorganize combined forces and change operation strategies as a matter of urgency, Shifeta said at the national stakeholder forum for wildlife protection and law enforcement event in Windhoek.

The recent discoveries of 11 rhino carcasses in the Etosha National Park and the illegal timber operation on small-scale farms in Kavango East is an indication that "we need to up our game," he said.

"According to Shifeta, demand for species is changing, crime syndicates shift their methods and while we are winning in one area, we might be losing in another without being aware of it. Hence, this field requires our continued vigilance, flexibility in countermeasures, the use of new technologies, and strengthened collaboration to tackle the dynamic threat of illegal wildlife trafficking and poaching which is plundering our valuable natural resources," he added.

The need to act has not been idle, Shifeta said, adding that the country has made significant strides to prevent, investigate, and prosecute wildlife crimes.

"This success would not have been possible without the support of communities, conservancies, and rhino custodians who makes daily choices to support and extend the anti-poaching activities on their lands," he concluded.