24 Aug 2023
The Etosha National Park in Namibia is world famous and a highlight on the to-do list for locals and tourists.
However, the threat of illegal hunting and poaching is always present, despite patrols and a special anti-poaching unit stationed in the huge park.
A recent photo of a springbok antelope at a water hole in Etosha with a wire snare round its neck, posted on social media, caused public concern.
On 21 August, the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT) explained it has in the past three months intensified its patrols at the Okaukuejo rest camp and surroundings as more wire snares were noticed.
“The Ministry is concerned over the increasing use of snares to illegally hunt and kill wild animals in the Etosha National Park. A few animals were recently spotted by tourists in the park with snares around their neck", MEFT Spokesperson Romeo Muyunda said. “Such incidents tarnish the park’s reputation.”
Patrols to look out for snares were now part of the day-to-day duties of the park management.
“So far 62 active wire traps have been retrieved since the joint patrols undertaken by MEFT staff, the Namibia Defence Force and the Namibian Police started in June,” said Muyunda.
It is suspected that snares are being set up by persons residing within the park to illegally kill game for meat.
A group of some 400 people live as a community inside the Etosha National Park, most of them at Okaukuejo. Fresh human footprints were spotted during a recent patrol, and a combined search for the suspected residents was carried out at Okaukuejo.
''Four community meetings were held to educate the people on the rules and regulations of the park as well as penalties for illegal activities”, the MEFT spokesperson said.
"Snare removals are ongoing in all our national parks. We want to call upon our tourists/visitors in those parks who may discover wire snare, traps, or any other illegal activity to report this to the Ministry’s officials for swift action," he urged.
The unfortunate springbok in Etosha had to be euthanised by the Park's veterinarian as the wire had cut too deep affecting “vital structures”, Muyunda stated.
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