Namibia: Minister Urges Judiciary to Join Fight Against Wildlife Crimes

Environment minister Pohamba Shifeta has urged local law enforcement agencies and the judiciary to cooperate in the fight to conserve wildlife and forests.

He was addressing the launch of the Wildlife and Forest Crime Analytic Toolkit and Indicator Framework in Windhoek last week.

He said wildlife and environmental crimes are no longer, the responsibility of conservancies alone and now require law enforcement coordination both out in the field and in the courtroom.

"To combat wildlife crime effectively, it is vital that the law enforcement community deploys all available tools to ensure that the entire crime chain is addressed," the minster said.

During the launch, the European Union Delegation to Namibia, the embassy of the United States of America and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime also urged the ministries of justice and safety and security to help conserve wildlife and forests with the assistance of the toolkit and indicator.

The Wildlife and Forest Crime Analytic Toolkit provides a comprehensive guide in analysing administrative, preventive and criminal justice responses to wildlife and forest crime and other related offences. The indicator framework complements the toolkit by measuring and monitoring the effectiveness of the law enforcement responses.

"This is an innovative project that has been implemented in several countries with excellent results," the US ambassador to Namibia, Lisa Johnson, said.

She said the toolkit and indicator provide a sound evidence base to combat wildlife and environmental crimes. Speaking at the 45th annual general meeting of the Namibia Professional Hunting Association last week, Shifeta urged international conservation agencies to respect Namibia's natural resource management programmes. He said international agencies are quick to criticise programmes put in place for management of conservancies on communal and commercial land, however, "they miss the bigger picture". "When certain problematic wildlife have been hunted through trophy hunting, international agencies do not look into the future to see where Namibia needs to be in decades, they rather look at each lion individually," he said.

Shifeta's remarks follow an uproar from animal activists after a six and half-year-old lion was killed in June this year at De Rust farm in the Kunene region by the ministry's conservation officials as it was part of the pride that had killed 27 goats, sheep and donkeys.

The minister explained that the national policy on human-wildlife conflict management that permits trophy hunting is a strategy to minimise cases of human-wildlife conflict which have increased with animals like lions, elephants and crocodiles.

"It is important for everyone to recognise that for such wildlife to be tolerated on farmland, whether communal or commercial, it requires that the net benefit must outweigh the costs of living with wildlife, one way being trophy hunting."

- Nampa

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