The Ministry of Environment and Tourism has warned poachers that it will intensify its anti-poaching patrols this festive season.
In this regard, the public are warned to refrain from any wildlife crimes that may lead to their arrest, and thus spend the festive season in custody.
The festive season often presents a window of opportunity for poachers to commit their unholy acts, with the hope that many law enforcement officials have taken leave to enjoy the festive season with their families.
However, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism spokesperson Romeo Muyunda in an interview with New Era yesterday warned would-be offenders they would pay dearly for poaching. Since 2012, Namibia has experienced an alarming increase in the poaching of elephant and rhino.
The Ministry of Environment and Tourism recently reported that 245 elephant were poached between 2014 and 2017, while 241 rhino were poached between 2012 and 2017.
One of the actions taken by the Namibian authorities to deal with the increase in poaching was to amend the penalty provisions under the Nature Conservation Ordinance 4 of 1975.
Muyunda said the public should also note that the ministry has reviewed the Nature Conservation Ordinance No. 4 of 1975 wherein fines and penalties for poaching and other related wildlife crimes were increased to enhance their deterrent effect. The revised fines, which came into force in June this year, substantially increase the penalties for the illegal hunting of elephant or rhino, from a maximum fine of N$200,000 to a maximum of N$25 million.
The potential imprisonment which can be imposed along with the fine was increased from 20 to 25 years.
The penalties for illegal hunting of any other “specially protected game” (which includes zebra, giraffe, klipspringer, impala and hippo) were increased from a maximum fine of N$20,000 to a maximum fine of N$10 million, with the maximum potential imprisonment raised from 5 years to 10 years. These penalties apply only for first convictions. In the case of subsequent convictions for hunting elephant, rhino or specially protected game, the maximum fine goes up to N$50 million, and can be combined with imprisonment of up to 40 years.
The penalties for illegal hunting of “protected game” have also been increased, to somewhat lesser levels.
This category of game covers a wide range of animals, including eland, blue wildebeest, steenbok, dik-dik, duiker and many other buck. It also includes the big cats (lion, leopard and cheetah) as well as many reptiles (such as python, crocodile and tortoise) and scaly anteaters, better known as pangolins.