The Ministry of Environment and Tourism recently collared two elephant cows in Kavango West in order to monitor herds of marauding elephants tormenting farmers in the region, which include occasional crop raids at the Musese Irrigation Project.
Environment and Tourism Deputy Director for the North Eastern Regions, Apollinaris Kanyinga, who addressed the regional political leadership at an inter-ministerial committee meeting at Nkurenkuru on Monday, said the elephants cannot be driven into national parks, especially Mangetti National Park as the regional leadership requested, as they are resident elephants.
Resident elephants will always return to their old habitats and thus two elephant cows were collared to monitor their (the herd’s) movements.
“Driving the wildlife into the Mangetti National Park proved difficult as the elephants tend to come into the villages but the monitoring will alert the ministry,” Kanyinga said.
The inter-ministerial committee meeting was called to address the issue of elephants that have been causing crop damage in the region. In the meeting Kanyinga said the ministry has managed to collar two elephant cows and the collaring was done on March 16. Since then the ministry has been receiving regular updates on their movements.
“The two herds/groups move in the areas of Musese, Gcaruha, Ehafo and Ncgancgana,” he informed the meeting.
“They are moving in those areas but on Google map you can see that their area of movement is across cultivated land,” he added.
According to Kanyinga, although the collaring was done the information from the server, where the information is generated from, is sometimes “not really forthcoming to the regional office” and he thus requested the people in charge of disseminating the data to send the daily updates of the elephants’ movements to the regional headquarters so that they can at all times know where the elephants are.
A responsibility the regional leadership gave the environment ministry is the drilling of boreholes to keep elephants away from the community, as most of the elephants also come in search of water.
The leadership also wants the human/wildlife conflict policy reviewed which, according to the politicians, is not benefiting people.
The ministry was furthermore asked to look into speeding up the damages payment process as the communities in the region are highly affected by wildlife damage to their property.
Another suggestion to control crop raiding elephants was for the ministry to look at the possibility of establishing conservancies in Kavango West.
During the meeting the Kavango West Governor Sirkka Ausiku said the regional leadership already commenced with consultations with the two traditional authorities in the region, which both have no problem to avail land for conservancies.
Ausiku also asked the ministry to increase the number of staff in areas where the elephants are currently a menace, though there are challenges because only two game rangers are available to respond to emergencies arising from the free spirited beasts.
On the establishment of conservancies Kanyinga said there is a need to get a “buy in” of the communities.
“Communities can get conditional rights to utilise wildlife and not just elephants, and money for compensation of crop damages can also be availed from the Game Product Trust Fund to conservancies for these kinds of problems,” he said.
Kanyinga added: “The process of payment when you do not have conservancies is tedious as it is done from Windhoek, thus establishing conservancies would be a better option.”