The number of elephants in Namibia has multiplied from 7 000 to about 24 000 since independence, of which 150 to 200 elephants are found in Kavango West region.
While this might be viewed as good by environmentalists, on the one hand, commercial and communal farmers see this growth as a thorn in the flesh because of the ruin caused to water infrastructure, homes and crops by these marauding wild elephants.
During a consultative meeting between the environment, forestry and tourism ministry and the regional leadership in Kavango West, discussing human and wildlife conflict, Poena Potgieter, who owns a commercial farm in the Otjozondjupa region, adjacent to Kavango West region, said the issue of elephants has become severe in the past five years.
This, he said, has become an economic challenge, as elephants are known to devour and damage crops and infrastructure, proving costly in the long run.
“Elephants come in herds of anything between 40 and 50 and cause a lot of destruction to the infrastructure, especially to water points and fences, making it difficult for us to farm at an optimal level,” elaborated Potgieter.
“Animals can come from the Red Zone and they can move into commercial areas. This can put our animals in jeopardy and it can impact our export market,” he added.
Chairperson of the Kavango West Regional Council Joseph Sivaku Sikongo echoed sentiments of the community, saying communities in the region are aggrieved and asking to be compensated on time for the damages caused by these jumbos.
He said the longer the communities wait to be compensated in case they incur crop losses, the more they despise the elephants, which they can be tempted to kill them.
Meanwhile, the director of wildlife and national parks in the environment ministry, Colgar Sikopo, encouraged the region to look at the opportunities that could be derived from the wildlife in the region by creating more conservancies, as there are currently only two in the region, of which one received hunting quotas, including two elephants, and some crocodiles and hippos to generate income for the beneficiary communities.
“Conservancies do not take the land away from the people; they give utilisation rights over wildlife. It is an additional mechanism for communities and farmers to benefit from them,” Sikopo stated.
He also highlighted that communities in the region need to engage and organise themselves, as the region is rich in natural resources and has the tourism route linking other countries, making it a potential tourist spot.
He also suggested that there is a need to look at how infrastructure can be protected by coming up with proper plans by the responsible institutions. He concluded that the meat can be used for human consumption and to support communities by selling it.
2020-07-01 10:31:48 | 12 days ago