Horses will be used tocombat poaching in Etosha

Stefanus Nashama

In an innovative approach to curbing illegal poaching, the Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Tourism has acquired 13 horses, at a cost of N$130 000, for patrol duties in the Etosha National Park.

The ministry disclosed that each horse was purchased at a cost of N$10,000, with financial support from the Game Product Trust Fund, which donated the necessary funds to the ministry.

Minister Pohamba Shifeta unveiled this initiative last Friday, during the commemoration of World Rhino Day at Etosha National Park.

He elaborated that the introduction of horse patrols is intended to enhance the efficiency of current foot patrols in combatting illegal rhino poaching.

According to Minister Shifeta, eight of the horses will be allocated for patrols within Etosha National Park, while the remaining five will be stationed at Waterberg Plateau Park.

“The horse-mounted patrols will enable our ministry to cover greater distances and carry more equipment compared to foot patrols,” he noted.

The minister also mentioned the superiority of horse-mounted patrols in off-road mobility and tracking ability relative to vehicles.

“Rangers on horseback can travel faster and more silently than those in vehicle patrols and can enjoy superior visibility from their elevated vantage points,” Shifeta said.

He expressed confidence that the presence of horses would enable quicker response times and present an intimidating stance to potential illegal actors.

Shifeta revealed that the ministry had noted horse-mounted incursions related to illegal activities in Etosha National Park over the years, with culprits often managing to evade arrest due to enhanced speed and mobility through the challenging terrain.

Addressing this, he stated that having a mounted patrol team puts the ministry on equal footing with horse-mounted incursions, thus increasing the potential for successful apprehensions.

Shifeta concluded by indicating that a multifaceted approach, involving a combination of horse and dog units, airwing or helicopters, fixed-wing patrols, foot patrols, closed-circuit television, intelligence gathering, and drones, will fortify the defence of rhinos against illegal activities.

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