Monday, June 3, 2013

Namibia game reserve loses 18 elephants, 5 buffaloes to poachers in 1 month

MUTJIKU - San communities resident in the Bwabwata National Park in Northern Namibia and the parks authority have reported the slaughter of 18 elephants, 5 buffaloes, 5 kudus and one anteater by poachers between April 13 and May 12, 2013. According to local newspaper New Era, the communities blamed the sudden spike in poaching incidents on the mushrooming of illegal settlements, populated by illegally settled Angolans, east of the town of Omega. Briefing government officials during a meeting at Mutjiku in the eastern Kavango region, San community leaders said poaching only became a problem in the past few year when a group of people from Angola migrated into the park to set up settlements. "There are many Angolan nationals east of Omega who are even farming with cattle. We also had cattle but government told us that we cannot (farm with them)," said Thaddeus Chedau, the chairperson of the Kyaramacan Association through which the San are involved in tourism projects. He said the San living within the Bwabwata National Park want the government to employ them as game wardens in local parks because they have the indigenous knowledge which is needed to track poachers. "Why must government employ people from outside who have no love for the animals, they just come here? We have our own game guards, but they cannot do much to stop the poaching, because they are unarmed. Our community game guards always report that they hear gunshots near the Angolan border but they are afraid of attend to the crime scenes because we are unarmed," said Chedau. Environment ministry’s parks and wildlife director Colgar Sikopo confirmed that a total of 18 elephant carcasses were discovered recently at Bwabwata National Park. Last year, Namibia lost 78 elephants to poachers, some of them alleged to be Chinese and Zambians. The Kyaramacan Association has 27 community game guards, five field officers and 16 community resource monitors. Overwhelmed by poaching at Bwabwata, the government briefly deployed the Namibian Defence Force (NDF) for a crackdown which lasted for two weeks in December 2012. Source: New Era (with additional reporting by AEP)

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