NYONDO - A game breeding farm has been established in the Kavango East region, but although they are opening their gates to the public, optimally utilising the game is impossible as they are still awaiting a leasehold from government.
The farm, about 95km east of Rundu at Nyondo in the Ndonga Linena constituency, has nine giraffes, 115 eland, 55 kudu, 85 oryx, 45 waterbucks, 29 Sable antelope, 38 Burchell zebra, 145 impala, 55 blesbok, 11 ostriches, six springboks, 12 warthogs, 15 Grey duikers, 15 steenboks and 45 Vervet monkeys. All the animals are roving about at liberty in their natural habitat, just like in a game park.
“We didn’t realise that acquiring a leasehold took so long. It has been a major setback,” said Ralf Walter, who has partnered with a local farm owner to breed game.
“We have put huge financial inputs, and we have been waiting for nearly four years now. We will continue to bring in more game and as from May, we will be bringing in learners from various schools to educate them about game.”
Walter is also the owner of the Mahangu Safari Lodge in the Divundu area.
He moved to Namibia from Germany in 1983.
Without a leasehold, the owners can’t sell game meat, are unable to get a shoot and sell permit, nor are any trophy hunting activities permitted for now.
“I met Walter five years back, and he was looking for a farm where he could partner with the owner to breed game for economic reasons. I told him that I have a farm, and I liked the idea that if he could bring the resources we could, and we decided to go ahead,” said farm owner Valentinus Shindimba.
“I took him to the traditional authorities, they supported the idea, and here we are. The challenge is just the attainment of the new leasehold.”
The game is kept on a 3 000-hectare portion of the farm, while a 2 000-hectare tract is reserved for livestock farming.
During the launch of the Kavango Game Breeders farm, the environment ministry’s chief warden for wildlife management for the two Kavango regions, Selma Angolo, noted that having a local game farm is not only prestigious but an asset to the region, and the managing of natural resources through conservation practices is key.
She added that there was no doubt this farm would be exemplary.
“Opening its gates will allow our nearest communities, in particular schools, to come for environmental education. Students from tertiary institutions (local and international) can also do research on vegetation or animal behaviour on the farm,’’ she noted.
Angolo further highlighted that the breeding of game will bring about employment to the locals.
“The sustainable utilisation of game through hunting practices on the farm will benefit the community by having access to buying game meat. However, as far as game utilisation is concerned on the farm, it is made impossible as the farm has no leasehold. Hence, as a ministry, we are not able to issue hunting permits and also to complete the registration process of this game farm.
One of the concerns is that the game population on the farm will increase drastically and if not controlled or managed, some animals might start dying due to the interspecific and intraspecific competition for resources. So, it’s extremely important that the farm gets a leasehold so that the benefits can start flowing into the farm and to communities as well,” she continued.
Angolo stated that as stakeholders, there is a need to support and strengthen relations with the farm owner and his team through conservation efforts for the sake of future generations.
Kavango East governor Bonifatius Wakudumo, in a speech read on his behalf by his personal assistant Andreas Haingura, said the growing influence of trophy hunting and the wildlife industry can be a significant contributing factor to the regional economy and growth because through this process, employment can be created as it is being done in other parts of Namibia.
“I have been informed that you have also invited learners as well as traditional leaders to this event. I really appreciate your initiative because it signals the fundamental aspect of safeguarding our environment, which includes wildlife and our natural resources,” he added.
“It is through our traditional leaders that we have this environment today, and it is through the well- vested youth that our environment will be kept protected for future generations,” Wakudumo noted.
On behalf of the VaGciriku Traditional Authority, senior headman Festus Shikerete said the traditional authority welcomed the investment in their jurisdiction.
“We are grateful because this farm will be there to educate our children about different animals. This project will eradicate poverty through the employment of youths who have been home without employment. We are happy that you are meeting government halfway in tackling poverty. This area used to be the hunting ground for our departed traditional leaders who reigned in the past. During their time, many wild animals used to be found in this area,’’ said Ndonga Linena constituency councillor Michael Kampota during the launch.