Miss Namibia 2017, Suné January is now the patron of Intelligence Support Against Crime (ISAP). This announcement was made this week at the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET).
As patron, the pageant winner will travel to schools across the country to raise awareness and start local discussions about the impacts of rhino poaching on Namibia.
By October last year, 27 rhinos were reported as poached compared to 60 in 2016 and 95 in 2015 – while 20 elephants were poached since January last year compared to 101 in 2016 and 49 in the year before.
This relative success in the battle against rhino and elephant poaching may only be statistical (some rhino carcases aren’t found for years and elephants regularly migrate across the borders and around entire areas), the pressure to defeat the poaching cartels and the Namibians helping them on-the-ground must not cease.
January said she is delighted to be part of this important project because it will give her the opportunity to tell the youth more about poaching.
She is particularly interested in talking to Grade 12 learners. “They are almost finished with school and might become interested in a career in wildlife and parks management,” she said.
January said she would have gotten involved in helping to stop poaching many years ago if she was informed about the evils of poaching sooner. “I already would have started to help kick out this evil that is destroying our rhinos and other wildlife if I had been informed about this when I was in school,” she said.
The Rehoboth-born beauty queen believes that informing the youth about poaching might help to alleviate the problem. “The youth have fresh minds and they might come up with great ideas to add value to efforts underway to help limit poaching in Namibia. The more people we get involved the better. It is, after all, a national problem,” she said.
The Bachelor of Computer Applications graduate from the Bangalore University in India, has been working on the rhino poaching issue for over three years now. She first got involved after she saw pictures of rhinos that were poached and it moved her to want to take action. She has since opened a page on social media called Africa Namibia where she is raising awareness.
As a result of her commitment to halt rhino poaching in Namibia, January has been invited to speak about this issue at Cornell University in New York on 1 May.
The organisers of the event took note of her commitment to the anti-poaching message after seeing her national costume during the annual Miss Universe pageant that was held in Las Vegas last year.
The 24 year-old said she is delighted to see that her national costume has received positive international attention while many Namibians were not very pleased with it. “When I revealed my costume, many Namibians were not happy. They were against it. I received several comments from the public advising me not to wear it because it was “ugly.”
“Some people said that what I wore did not represent anything about Namibia, but I did not see it that way. I wanted to wear something that represented a personal concern such as the sad fact that our rhinos that are being killed for someone else’s selfish profit.
“Wearing something sexy and beautiful was not my main aim. I wanted to use that international platform to send a message about something that is happening in our country,” explained January.
The Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta said January is a role model to many youngsters and he believes that she could inspire some of them to get involved in the fight to end poaching. “It is very important for the youth to be involved. Our wildlife needs to be protected,” Shifeta said.