Namibia a Hunter’s Paradise?

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By Fifi Rhodes Windhoek Namibia’s status as an international trophy-hunting destination is no longer just a dream. The country has grown into one of the leading hunting destinations in Africa and one of the best in the world. Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism, Leon Jooste said this as he read the statement of Minister Willem Konjore at the annual general meeting of the Namibia Professional Hunting Association in Windhoek last week. He said that in addition to the primary economic benefits, the secondary financial contributions of this industry must be acknowledged as the hunting clients support tourism, airlines, hotels and guest-houses during their stay in the country. “The Namibia Professional Hunting Association (Napha) is recognised and respected nationally and internationally as playing a pro-active and leading role through its educational and social upliftment programmes,” the minister said. The meeting also coincided with the training of hunting professionals. This Konjore applauded and said his ministry acknowledged the efforts of the association for establishing a system that provides educational opportunities for previously disadvantaged Namibians to become hunting professionals. The association’s Social Up-liftment Committee has thus far assisted eight Namibian schools with much needed electronic equipment such as photocopiers, fax machines and other essential equipment. One issue still under discussion the minister said is the importation of black rhino and black face impala trophies into the United States. “The importance and urgency to finalize these matters for the benefit of the industry and visiting hunters is currently being addressed by the Ministry and the Department of Fish and Wildlife in the United States of America,” he told the audience. The president of the Association Danie Strauss cautioned the hunters not to take the success for granted but to continue to develop strategies to ensure the continuation of the growing pattern. “Napha is about trophy hunting. Without a sustainable wildlife source, no future in the industry will exist,” he said. According to its president, the association has been extremely successful in marketing Namibia as a desired destination in Germany and the USA. “The relationship with these stakeholders has to continue because it creates the best possible forum for our members to market their hunts,” Strauss said. The abundance of wildlife in the country is currently the biggest selling point. “Clients visiting the country are extremely impressed with our wildlife resource,” he told the members. Marina Lamprecht of the association told the house that in Namibia as elsewhere in the world, game or wildlife are now categorized as “wild products of the land” in the same way as cattle, sheep or any other “domesticated pro-ducts of the land and should therefore be utilized as such”. “If we develop the sustainable utilization of our wildlife resource to the point that they become an integral and essential part of a human being’s life support system, man will develop that same compulsive desire to look after them properly as he already does with his domestic stock. This will have a wide reaching benefit for game populations on private as well as communal land,” she said. According to Lamprecht, Namibia has a natural resource in wildlife. “In order to make a true analysis of trophy hunting as a lucrative form of land utilization, it is important to compare the profitability of what is currently still nationally considered to be the ‘ultimate’ form of commercial farm land utilization, cattle farming, to trophy hunting, as well as to understand that there are primary as well as secondary forms of income to be generated from that trophy hunting sector.” In her closing remarks, she said the inherent biological and physiological advantages of wild animals, and the fact that wildlife has added value in terms of products other than meat, makes wildlife production potentially more profitable than beef. “The reason that wildlife offers much higher returns than cattle lies in the fact that wildlife can be marketed for more than just the basic value of its meat, skin and other products. “The value can be greatly enhanced through wildlife-base industries such as trophy-hunting tourism, even as much as lower levels of stocking and utilization,” she said. In terms of economic returns Lamprecht said statistics indicate that net financial returns from wildlife production far exceeds that of cattle ranching. The theme of this year’s 32nd AGM was: “To secure the trophy hunting industry for our current and future generation.”