The conflict between villagers and wild animals in northern Namibia is intensifying. In October and November, a pack of lions caused an uproar in the Kunene region. In two cases, it invaded kraals and raged among the small cattle. In total, around 250 goats and sheep were killed. The enclosures, however, were said to be not sufficiently secured. The Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) sent a team of nature conservation officers to track down the pack. Five of the eight big cats were captured and transferred to one of Namibia’s national parks. The name of the park was not revealed.
In September, a so-called desert elephant was declared a “problem animal” and designated for trophy hunting in the Sorris Sorris communal area after repeatedly causing damage. When two more elephants were released for hunting in nearby areas as part of the wildlife use quota, animal rights activists warned of extinction.
The ministry rejected the criticism as unfounded. The desert elephants in northwestern Namibia are not a separate species. They merely adapted to their habitat of the dry river beds. In addition, there are 24,000 elephants living in Namibia and their numbers are increasing year by year by 3.3 percent. The ministry emphasised the revenue of the affected communities from trophy hunting. People who only have disadvantages and no benefits from the coexistence with wild animals, would not protect the wildlife – and nature conservation without the participation or even against the will of the affected people is not possible.
In northeastern Namibia, at hearings of MET on the human-animal conflict communities complained about low compensation for villagers killed by elephants or other wild animals. Even the planned increase from previously 5,000 to 100,000 Namibia Dollar was described as insufficient. A chief from the Zambezi region demanded $ 25 million, as this is the penalty that must be paid for a killed elephant. He does not see, said the chief, why the life of an animal should be more valuable than that of a human. According to the ministry, seven people were killed by wild animals in the first quarter of this year.
Published in the column “Reise Aktuell” of the print edition no. 4 / 2017 of Namibiamagazin (in German only).