Foreign Helicopters Sky Hunting Somali Life

Foreign Helicopters Sky Hunting Somali Life

By  Abdulkarim Jimale

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“From late 2008 up to the present foreign helicopters patroling warships in Somali waters have been poaching and stealing wildlife from the coastal villages in North Eastern, Somalia” Farah Ahmed an elder in Eyl district told Islamonline.net, IOL.

Elders and nomadic families of the coastal villages in Puntland, a self-declared state in northeastern Somalia, are suffering from foreign helicopters that are hunting and stealing wildlife on the outskirts of the villages in coastal areas. The most targeted areas by the flying poachers are Nugal, Karkar and Mudug regions.

“Foreign helicopters are poaching and stealing wildlife from the coastal villages. They are terrorizing the nomadic families, and this is affecting their livestock. Many children have been lost after being terrified by the planes,” said Mohammed Yusuf, another elder in Gar’ad Village in Mudug region.

Mohammed Yusuf added in a phone interview with IOL that the helicopters have been targeting the gazelles, ostrich’s and warthogs.

“The areas they are hunting and stealing the wild life from is rich with gazelles and ostrich’s. Now there are no more wildlife there, foreign helicopters hunted thousands, and they are still illegally hunting”

“Before the foreign helicopters began to steal the wildlife from the coastal villages, gazelles,  ostrich’s and the warthogs were walking around in groups. We, the elders of the coastal villages, were keeping them and barred residents from hunting them, but now you can see only a small number of the wildlife are still walking around and this is evidence of foreigners poaching our wildlife,” he said

Inflicting Harm

Jama ‘Abdi, another elder from the same region told IOL that the helicopters have been spraying the wildlife with chemicals which effect the environment.

“The pastures dry immediately, whenever the helicopters spray the wildlife,” he said, adding that they don’t know exactly who is stealing the wild life.

“The planes are of great concern to animals whenever they hover around the water holes. Animals get scared from the planes and start to stampede, causing great harm,” he added.

A Somali livestock herder called Hassan ‘Abdiwali ‘Ali who lives in Mudug region’s Godobjiran district told IOL that he witnessed foreign military helicopters hunting and stealing wildlife.

“I saw helicopters flying overhead spraying the wildlife, and collecting them in nets, then fly away” he said. He claimed that some of his livestock actually died from the spraying.

“The pastoralists and nomadic families didn’t think that foreign helicopters who came for peace making would steal our wildlife.”

Families in Despair

The noise of the helicopters hovering and poaching wildlife is appalling, and is worsening the condition of nomadic families and the coastal population.

“The amount of noise coming from the helicopters shocks the elders, children and women. It can cause harm to their brain. We are in despair, if the situation continues in the following months. We will flee from our homes, because we can’t stay under these difficult circumstances,” Nasra ‘Abdullahi, a mother of three based in Eyl told IOL. Thousands like Nasra in the coastal villages in North Eastern Somalia are facing similar problems.

Governance in Somalia

Somalia has not had a central authority for years now, but parts of the country such as in the north which comes under shaky semi-autonomous regions, enjoy relative peace. Now the noise of the flying poachers stealing wild life has become a problem which has forced thousands of people who were living peacefully, to flee from their homes.

“The pastoralists have rifles; the only solution I think we can do as elders is to order the pastoralists and the nomadic families to fire on the helicopters, because we don’t have any other form of power,” another elder told IOL.

“We want the flying poachers to stop displacing our people, to stop annihilating us, Let them return what they have poached or compensate. We are alarmed in the way in which this problem is affecting the people, animals and the residence,” ‘Abdiaziz Aw Yusuf, the district commissioner of Jariban in Mudug region told IRIN radio on 22 October, 2009

Elders Appeal to Stop the Poaching!

Usually the helicopters operate within the coastal area, where international warships which have been deployed to fight with Somali pirates, are stationed. However, the locals are appealing to the international community, AU, EU, Somali government and Puntland authority to stop the foreigners poaching their wildlife.

The warships are also a serious nightmare for Somali fishermen on the north east coast. The fishermen are unable to sail on the high seas because of the fear of being attacked by the forces. The multinational warships, which are under a UN-mandate, patrol to deter possible piracy on commercial ships, and UN-charted vessels carrying humanitarian aid to the Horn of Africa. ##

Abdulkarim Jimale is a Somali freelance Journalist with experience in humanitarian reporting from the Horn of Africa Region. He has worked with Kenyan and American Radio’s and newspapers. Jimale is a reporter for FSRN Radio. You can contact him by emailing: abdulkarim.jimale@gmail.com

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