The Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism has come out guns blazing as he defends the significance of trophy conservation in the country, amid an international outcry to ban the import and export of trophies, saying countries who are advocating for this are jealous, arguing that a ban would negatively affect sustainable conservation.
Pohamba Shifeta said there are so many wild animals whose numbers have surpassed the carrying sustainable capacity, hence the reason why many cases of human wildlife conflict is on the increase.
“The same countries that are writing letters to us requesting for our wild animals, are on the other hand advocating against us, that should certainly tell you that they are jealous of our resources. Instead they want us to keep the animals for their pleasure to watch, while turning a blind eye on our problems, where domestic animals are killed including humans, destruction to crops and properties,” fumed Shifeta.
“Our national parks are full, and animals are roaming everywhere now. However, when we practice trophy conservation (trophy hunting) we are seen as harvesting animals, but this is the only sustainable way to do it. By doing so, you generate an income for the conservancies in which people who live and look after these wild animals are, including providing employment.”
Communities generated N$130 647 435, while private farmers made an income of N$225 663 751 from trophy hunting About 5000 people are directly employed at all 86 conservancies, and 6000 more at private farms.
The minister explained that there is no way trophy hunting can be construed as harvesting, “because this form of hunting removes just under 1% of the national wildlife population each year, against typical wildlife population growth of about 25 to 35% per year. In the case of slower breeding species such as elephant, typically breeding is at 3 to 5% per year, the offtake is far lower, at about 0.2%. High value hunting by clients from Europe and elsewhere is therefore an important contributor to the sustainable wildlife economy and to Namibia’s growing “rewilding” conservation programme.”
8459 trophy hunters visited Namibia between 2019 and 2021, mainly from Germany, USA, Austria, Hungary, France, Sweden, Spain, Denmark, Russia, Australia, Czech Republic, South Africa, Romania and Switzerland. “Should the countries I have mentioned ban import and export of hunting trophies, that will erode all the progress made in our country since independence, particularly if other more European countries follow suit. European hunters account for over half of the total hunting revenue to Namibia,” he said.
Without a suitable alternative that fully replace the income, employment and protein provided by conservation hunting in Namibia, both people and wildlife will suffer, the minister explianed. “We therefore appeal to them not to opt for the route of any bans but rather continue to apply current controls based on internationally agreed rules. While we understand that trophy hunting might not always contribute to rural development and conservation in all countries as it does in Namibia, any ban on trophy import and export, whether selective or not, would effectively undermine the Namibian people and our successful conservation model,” reiterated Shifeta.