Human-wildlife conflict imposes high costs on GRN

Niël Terblanché

Human-wildlife conflicts have become an increasingly costly challenge for the Namibian Government, with compensation payouts totalling approximately N$31.7 million since 2019.

Teofilus Nghitila, the Executive Director of the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, shed light on the escalation of the issue, citing factors such as drought and the expanding human population as exacerbating the situation.

Nghitila said that the complex nature of coexisting with wild animals, which, while beneficial for employment and income generation, also carries significant costs.

These costs manifest in various ways, including crop damage, livestock losses, injuries to people, and even the tragic loss of life.

In response to the escalating problem, the government has taken appropriate steps.

Nghitila mentioned the development of a national policy designed to guide the management of recurring human-wildlife conflict situations across the country.

In May of this year, a national conference on Human Wildlife Conflict Management was convened, bringing together stakeholders to collaboratively seek solutions to address these conflicts. This has culminated in the formulation of a comprehensive work plan that will guide future actions and strategies.

Nghitila indicated that the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism has taken on the responsibility of managing forestry resources after this component was transferred from the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform.

The shift has yielded promising results, including the declaration of three state forest reserves in Zambezi, Kavango West, and Otjozondjupa regions.

The ministry has also facilitated the establishment of 46 community forests

He said that these interventions have contributed significantly to the reduction of illegal timber harvesting, particularly in the northeastern parts of the country.

Nghitila said that efforts to promote tree planting have yielded encouraging results, with over 5,000 trees planted during the 2023 Arbor Day celebrations.

“This initiative emphasizes Namibia’s dedication to preserving its natural resources and fostering a harmonious coexistence between humans and wildlife,” he said.

He added that Namibia remains determined to address the issue of human-wildlife conflict comprehensively, seeking to strike a balance between conservation efforts, community livelihoods, and the preservation of precious ecosystems.

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