When visiting incredible, thriving and idyllic Namibian national parks such as Etosha and Co, you would be forgiven for forgetting that it wasn’t always like this.
Not so long ago, the majority of Etosha’s wildlife was decimated (either through poaching or as collateral damage) by the Border War of the 70s and 80s. Even up until 1990, numbers of Namibia’s most-revered beasts continued to nosedive.
But the new Namibian constitution that was introduced in 1990 and a host of subsequent government sponsored conservation initiatives over the last 20 years or so have led to the remarkable turnaround of today.
Now, Etosha is often considered the best National Park in Africa and Namibia boasts the continent’s largest population of cheetah and free-roaming black rhinos, many of the latter of which are found in . . . you guessed it . . . Etosha. Meanwhile, the scourge of poaching that has so badly afflicted other African nations (notably neighbouring South Africa, where more than 1000 rhinos were poached in 2013) has failed, as yet, to claim a significant stronghold on Namibian soil.
But for all its obvious success, Namibia doesn’t look set to rest on its laurels any time soon. Incidences of poaching, though often still barely in double figures, have increased significantly in the last two years and conservationists frequently reiterate a feeling that Namibia is not simply immune to the problems afflicting other African nations, that it is merely a matter of time before the poaching cartels look to take root in Namibia, and that more precautionary measures need to be taken.
With this in mind, an important meeting was held in Namibian capital Windhoek earlier in May, with government representatives, stakeholders and conservation experts taking part in a workshop to discuss anti-poaching strategies.
Colgar Sikopo, the head of the Directorate of Regional Services and Parks Management in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET), speaking at the event, said that “there is a clear requirement for a strategy to upgrade law enforcement and crime prevention capacity in the country as well as for immediate action that should be part of, and feed into, the overall strategy”.
South Africa, and other African nations, have plenty to learn from such a proactive and pertinent approach to poaching, and in the meantime, let’s hope that Etosha National Park and the like continue to thrive.
To read more about the poaching issue in South Africa, click here, then let us know what you think should be done to stop the war on Southern Africa’s wildlife.