Trafficking of protected plant species suspect to apply for bail

WINDHOEK: A 29-year-old Tanzanian woman is set to appear in the Opuwo Magistrate’s court on Thursday for a bail application, in connection with the alleged trafficking of protected plant species.

The Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT) spokesperson Romeo Muyunda in a media statement on Monday said Diana Mashiku was arrested alongside Namibians, Veisiruaije Tjavara (25), Jennifer Simataa (37) and Tjivinda Unatavi (31) for being in possession of 46 Adenia pechuelii plants, which they allegedly harvested from the wild without a permit.

The alleged plant trafficking occurred between 21 October and 10 November 2023 at Okandombo, in the Kunene region.

‘This case is one of many where international poaching syndicates use Namibian enablers to persuade local community members to find and harvest Namibia’s unique plant species for a small fee. The plants are then smuggled across international borders to be sold to plant collectors for substantial sums of money,’ he said.

Muyunda further said in the
last two years, authorities have seized 666 indigenous plants, excluding illegal timber. A staggering 430 of the confiscated specimens were Adenia pechuelii, known as the ‘Elephant’s Foot’, involving 16 criminal cases and the arrest of 37 suspects.

Most of these arrests were the result of intelligence-led investigations spearheaded by the Blue Rhino Task Team, which comprises several branches of the Namibian Police Force working alongside the MEFT Investigations Unit,’ he concluded.
Source: The Namibia Press Agency