PILOTS from the Namibian Air Force flying an Alouette III helicopter assisted a team of policemen in capturing a poacher who shot at them while they were running on his tracks in the commercial farming area to the south west of Otavi.
According to the Otjozondjupa Regional Crime Investigations Coordinator, Deputy Commissioner Naukalemo Andreas, the team of police men was tracking the poacher through the farming areas between Outjo and Otavi on Sunday after farm workers reported a suspicious and armed person on Farm Streben.
“The Police in Otavi called for backup from Kombat and 15 officers arrived on the farm at around 13:00 They started to track the suspicious man on foot and when he saw that he was being followed he fired several shots on the pursuing trackers.”
Deputy Commissioner Andreas said the officers returned fire which caused the suspect to drop the hunting rifle and to start running again but the police officers called in an NDF helicopter, which also joined the pursuit of the suspect.
According to Deputy Commissioner Andreas the poacher was eventually caught on Farm Marula 11 hours and quite some distance away after the officers started tracking him. The two farms are adjacent to each other.
“When the suspect was finally arrested he had pieces of rhino horn in his possession. He also had some ammunition and water bottle with him. The butcher’s knives and hunting rifle he used to shoot at the police officers was recovered by the tracking team. No one was injured or wounded during the exchange of fire between the suspect and the police officers,” she said.
The Ministry of Defence’s public relations officer, Lieutenant Colonel Petrus Shilumbu, confirmed that a helicopter of the Namibian Air force participated in the hunt for the poacher.
He said it is the secondary role of the Namibian Defence force to protect the national interests of the country and it is in this regard that the air force helicopter was dispatched to assist the police in hunting down the suspect.
He said because of the secondary role of the defence force soldiers are actively assisting in anti-poaching operations in the BwaBwata National Park and the Etosha National Park.
Deputy Commissioner Andreas said the suspect was charged with hunting specially protected game, possession of protected game products and for being in possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition. With regard to the exchange of gun fire with the police officers, a charge of attempted murder was also laid against the suspect
The pieces of rhino horn found in the suspect’s possession are believed to be from an animal that was poached in the Etosha National Park over the weekend.