Problem Elephants: Cabinet Weighs New Policy

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By Petronella Sibeene

WINDHOEK

A protracted wrangle between humans and elephants in the Caprivi, Kavango, Kunene and the Erongo regions will only come to an end once the Human Management Policy is approved by Cabinet and put into effect, says the Minister of Environment and Tourism Willem Konjore.

The policy will consist of mechanisms that should reduce the level of human-wildlife conflict, ensure that the benefits of conservation management outweigh the costs and build on the significance of successes already achieved.

The policy is in its final stages, the minister said.

The minister said the four regions have high populations of elephants.

He urged residents in these regions to be careful, vigilant, conduct their activities in the safest manner and avoid walking at night. Further, he urged tourists to avoid harassing or disturbing animals at waterholes and favoured grazing areas as such behaviour arouses anger in animals.

The minister said his ministry cannot resort to culling, as there is no guarantee that the animal population will remain the same.

“Animals move around and it cannot be said that tomorrow they will still be 20 000,” he said.

This year, in a space of six weeks, four people died and one was hospitalized after being attacked by an elephant. In the Erongo and Otjozondjupa regions 10 elephants have so far been killed as problematic animals.

The ministry’s regional offices have also received complaints of animals destroying property.

Measures taken by the ministry to reduce such incidences, according to Konjore, include the allocation of a quota of problem elephants and crocodiles in the identified regions to be hunted outside the national parks and conservancies for a period of two years (2007-2008) on a trial basis.

In the Caprivi, five elephants and two crocodiles will be hunted in the areas of Malengalenga, Batubaja, Kapani, Linyanti, Chinchimani, Bamunu and Masokotwani. Three elephants and two crocodiles will be hunted in Lisikili, Bukalo, Lusese, Kabbe, and the eastern floodplain areas.

In the Kavango, two elephants will be hunted in the outside and west areas of Khaudom National Park and Mangetti Game Camp while seven crocodiles will be hunted in the Kavango river in the areas of Nzinze, Thipanana, Ndiyona, Mupini, Kakuro and Mupapama.

“These animals are additional to the quotas allocated to conservancies and will not be hunted in any registered conservancy or national park,” the minister said.

Recently, ministry officials in the Caprivi and Kavango regions urged residents to desist from wandering around at night and in the early hours of the morning to avoid being trampled by marauding elephants.

The warning was made after an upsurge in elephant attacks on human beings.

Environment officials estimate that there are over 20 000 elephants in the Caprivi Region alone while in Kavango Region, the elephant population is estimated at 3 000.

The increase in elephant attacks are attributed to the animals’ migration from the Chobe National Park in Botswana, and other parks in neighbouring Angola and Zambia.

Acting Chief Control Warden at Rundu, Chrispin Nkonkwena, said that it is the elephant’s calving season now and they have multiplied significantly.

He added that his office is running an awareness programme on the national radio for residents to avoid moving around from 16h00 to the early hours of the morning.

These animals come in and out of Namibia. He confirmed that there are too many elephants in Botswana that are spilling into Namibia and vice-versa.

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