WINDHOEK – Nearly half a billion would be spend on mending the fence around the Etosha National Park.
Its collapse has allowed the escape of dangerous wildlife into human settlements where lions killed livestock and elephants destroyed structures, and threatened human lives.
The Ministry of Environment and Tourism said mending the fence is one of its top priorities but admitted that with the current speed and level of construction, it could take more than 10 years to complete the mending of the entire fence.
The Director of Parks in the MET, Colgar Sikopo said the ministry has “estimated through a feasibility study that the construction of the remaining 712 km requires N$491 million at current cost and can create significant temporary jobs”.
However, he cited budget constraints as a major challenge but said the ministry is putting all efforts to do more with less.
He explained that over the past six years, only 112 km of the fence has been upgraded and 712 km is still deteriorated.
The revelations comes after a video clip went viral on social media last week, which shows how the fence along the park is in deplorable condition, as it has virtually fallen to the ground for a stretch of about 10 km.
The fence was constructed in the early 1960s and is more than 50 years old and has deteriorated in some areas.
The boundary of the park is extremely long as it consists of 822 km, and it has various types of fences such as the predominant one being a game proof fence with about 80 km and stock proof fence, at the height of 1.2 m.
Due to the fence’s deplorable condition, most dangerous wildlife animals such as lions and elephants often leave the park and end up in conflict with humans- a serious situation which causes loss of lives to people in surrounding areas of Omusati, Oshana, Oshikoto and Kunene regions.
Sikopo said to improve the status of the boundary fence for Etosha National Park; the ministry has since 2012 started with the construction and electrification of an elephant and predator proof fence.
Elephant and lion proof fences cost in excess of N$689 285 per km.
During the 2012/13 financial year, an amount of N$35 million was set aside, for 2013/14 an amount of N$40 million was allocated, for 2014/15 about N$40 million was allocated, for 2015/16 about N$20 million was set aside and for 2016/17 an amount of N$29 million was allocated but was reduced by half to N$14.5 million. For 2011/18 an amount of N$12 million was allocated while during this financial year, an amount of N$23.8 million has been allocated.
He said they are aware that some parts of the cattle proof fence are in bad condition as a result of the destruction by elephants on a daily basis, especially during wet season.
The most affected areas are the northern boundary cattle proof fence from where the new fence stops at Aupindi corner to the area west of Onanke Klein River.
He revealed that only one team of six staff members stationed at Onanke has to maintain this portion of the fence and are allocated one government vehicle.
Sikopo noted its also unfortunate that the Directorate of Wildlife and National Parks in the ministry has over 400 positions across Namibia – a situation that creates a gap and challenge in the implementation of activities such as maintenance of the boundary fence for Etosha.
Etosha National Park which is one of the greatest parks in Africa, and one of the oldest and is Namibia’s number one tourist destination was proclaimed in 1907 and has a size of 22 935 square km.