17 September 2018

Namibia: Man's Best Friend to Take a Bite Out of Illicit Wildlife Trade

The Minister of Environment, Pohamba Shifeta, recently inaugurated the Dog protection and law enforcement unit at the Waterberg Plateau National Park.

The Dog unit initiative came at a time when the country is experiencing crime against wildlife particularly elephants and rhinos, which is sparked by international trade of products.

According to Shifeta funding for the initiative which was bore in early 2017 was acquired from various sources including Save the Rhino International and the United States government.

Shifeta said the four dogs for the unit were procured from trusted vendors in Holland for their superior genetics and development.

"They were imported to Namibia and immediately began six weeks of acclimation and pre-training by Invictus K9 trainers where a solid foundation in detection and tracking was laid," he added.

The minister said all the four dogs are trained to search buildings, vehicles, baggage and open areas for firearms, ammunition and illegal wildlife products such as ivory, rhino horn, pangolin scales and bush meat.

The dog unit will be used in Etosha National park, Bwabwata National Park and all other conservation areas and strategic points, as well as airports and boarder posts of the south western African country.

Ambassador of the United States to Namibia, Lisa Johnson at the event said Namibia has had great success in combating poaching in recent years, including through the highly successful community based conservation program, the rhino custodian program and other collaborative efforts.

"The US government has been able to collaborate with the ministry to launch this program- through funding the purchase and training of the dogs, as well as supplies and equipment for the dog and dog handlers.

Johnson said that the program complements a number of other US government funded programs to combat wildlife crime. Currently the US government is funding ongoing wildlife projects in Namibia at more than N$20 million

Meanwhile, as of August this year, official count from the Minister of Environment show that only 35 rhino poaching incidents have been recorded.

Caption: the Minister of Environment, Pohamba Shifeta inaugurated the Dog protection and law enforcement unit at the Waterberg Plateau National Park.The dog unit will be used in Etosha National park, Bwabwata National Park and all other conservation areas and strategic points, as well as airports and boarder posts of the country.

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