WINDHOEK, 15 SEP – The Ministry of Environment and Tourism on Friday inaugurated its dog unit which will be used for wildlife protection and law enforcement.
Inaugurating the unit at Waterberg in the Otjozondjupa Region, Environment and Tourism Minister Pohamba Shifeta said Namibia said elephants and rhinos particularly are affected by wildlife crime.
The unit compromises four German Shepherds procured from vendors in Holland for N.dollars 240 000. One more dog was acquired last year.
Shifeta said funding was acquired from various sources, including Save the Rhino and the United States of America’s (USA) Fish and Wildlife Service.
He said his ministry’s has been focusing on the law enforcement component of conservation in an effort to protect the country’s wildlife from illegal hunting.
“All 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,” he said.
He explained that the ministry in 2017 began to explore the potential of a dog unit through a partnership with Invictus K9, which specialises in the establishment and support of law-enforcement in canine units in Africa.
The dog unit will be used in the Etosha and Bwabwata National Parks, as well as in other conservation areas and strategic points, airports and border posts.
The ministry plans to acquire three more dogs by the end of this year.
The United States of America’s Ambassador to Namibia, Lisa Johnson said the acquisition of the dogs complements other US Government-funded programmes to combat wildlife crime.
“We want to stamp out poaching and trafficking which harm Namibia’s economy,” she said.
Johnson noted that the support aims to balance the enforcement and human sides of conservation efforts.