Controversial rhino hunt could generate millions for conservation

Niël Terblanché

Mixed feelings about Namibia’s wildlife conservation principles have been expressed after the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism announced that it will avail an old black rhinoceros bull to the highest bidder.

The country has the largest population of black rhinos in the world because of innovative conservation methods, and as a result, can afford to utilize resources to raise much-needed funds for conservation.

Romeo Muyunda, the ministry’s spokesperson, said the single animal will be of a post-reproductive age and that it still has to be identified.

He added that the rhino was made available for sustainable hunting during the current hunting season which will end in November and that the hunt will be conducted within the provisions of the relevant national and international regulations.

“Rhinos, just like any other wildlife species are a resource and according to the constitution and our conservation principles such resources must be utilized to benefit the current and future generations of this country,” he said.

He mentioned that the sale of a single old rhino bull could generate revenue of up to N$7 million. He said that the expected revenue could be much higher because the last hunt of a similar nature was conducted in 2015.

According to Muyanda, old rhino bulls, when they become non-reproductive in a population, can sometimes cause territorial fights that may injure or kill young reproductive bulls.

He said the funds generated from the hunt will be deposited into the Game Product Trust Fund account.

“This fund supports general conservation in the country particularly the investment into anti-poaching activities. It also supports activities aimed at mitigating and reducing the impact of human-wildlife conflict on communities that share the same living space with wild animals,” he said.

The money that is used to offset losses and damages incurred by communities during conflict with wildlife, comes from the Game Product Trust Fund. The fund is also used to support initiatives such as the provision of water for wild animals, the construction of predator-proof kraals, and the maintenance of conservation vehicles. According to Muyanda, the fund is governed by processes that ensure that the money invested there is utilized for the intended purposes only and is subject to strict audits every year.

He said that the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB), registered Namibian companies, owned by or having in its employment a Namibian Professional Hunter (Big Game) registered with the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism are invited to submit their written financial offers in Namibian Dollar amounts.

Muyanda added that offers should also indicate when the bidders intend to conduct the hunt.

He made it clear that the hunt will not occur in premier tourist attractions such as the Etosha National Park

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