The conflict between humans and wild animals such as lions, leopards and especially elephants, in the Omatjette communal area, has reached alarming proportions. The elephants destroy everything in their path, such as houses, borehole installations, fences and gardens.
Unfortunately, there has so far been no compensation for the loss of lives and properties. On 4 October 2017, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Habitat held consultations with the community, and promised to escalate this matter to Cabinet, but nothing has happened to date. A director in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Dr Colgar Sikopo, was quoted in the media as saying that the N$100,000 that was generated from the culling of one elephant will be used to build fences around some of the homesteads that are in the migratory paths of the elephants, as well as to construct a transformer to provide electricity so that the lights at night will keep the elephants away.
However, the problem is that the elephants keep changing their migratory paths depending on the availability of water and the nature of the obstacles along the way. They will thus just move to another village that has no fences, assuming that the fences are effective. So, the question is whether the government will be able to afford to build fences around all the homesteads in the entire communal area.
The most permanent solution will be for the government to relocate these elephants (currently estimated at 70 strong) back to Etosha. Instead of providing half a solution of fences around some homesteads, the government can instead use those funds to build a proper fence around Etosha in order to keep these beasts inside Etosha where they belong.
Alternatively, the government can convert the entire Omatjette communal area into a habitat for elephants, but then they will have to resettle all the farmers to another suitable area where they can farm peacefully and sustainably away from the scourge of elephants. The current communal area is drought-stricken and is now forced to share the limited pastures with elephants, which is obviously not sustainable.
If this situation is not resolved on an urgent basis, the Omatjette farmers shall be left with no option but to approach the head of state. Unfortunately, if all these efforts fail, then the farmers shall be forced to take the law into their own hands to deal with the scourge of elephants by any means necessary.
Rikondononee Upendura Katjatenja, Spokesperson for No More Elephant Group