WINDHOEK-Incidences of Human Wildlife Conflict remain a concern as they seem to overshadow the benefits as well as opportunities created for Namibians. This was said by the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, today during his ministerial statement on the current status of Human Wildlife Conflict in the Country.
Shifeta said these incidences mainly involve infrastructure damages, livestock losses, crop damages, in some unfortunate incidence’s loss of life and injuries to people.
“These incidences all affect the livelihoods of our people. To manage and address the impact of Human Wildlife Conflict, the Ministry has developed the National Policy initially implemented in 2009 and revised in 2018,” he said.
The minister said the policy provides for specific interventions to manage specific conflicts in different areas. The Policy also provides for offset payments for damages and losses incurred by communities.
“The Ministry has since 2019 paid offset amounts to losses caused by wild animal amounting to N$24 168 162. Consequently, the ministry has paid over N$2 to 9 million for livestock losses; N$2,5 million for crop damages; N$640 thousand for injuries sustained by people; N$3.3 million for loss of life from 2019 to date,” Shifeta articulated.
Meanwhile, Shifeta voiced that within the same period, the ministry has administered 33 claims for loss of life of which 15 were in 2022 and 4 so far in 2023 with crocodiles, hippos and elephants being the main culprits.
“I wish to take this opportunity to express our sympathy on behalf of the Ministry and government in general to those who have lost their loved ones as a result of wildlife,” he sympathized.
In terms of crop damages, Shifeta said about 2,637 hectares was destroyed by wild animals of which 270 hectares was recorded in 2022 and 60 hectares so far in 2023 mainly by elephants.
While addressing the member of parliament the environmental minister said a total of 862 livestock was killed by predators mainly crocodiles, hyenas, lions, wild dogs, leopard and jackals of which 204 was recorded in 2022 and 9 in 2023 to date.
And a total of 54 people were injured within the same period, 15 in 2022 and 3 in 2023 to date.
Together with other stakeholder the environmental ministry is involved and implementing measures such elephant and lion collaring; early warning system; lion ranger programme; construction of predator proof kraals; translocation of problem causing animals; declarations and putting down of problem causing animals and wildlife population management.
Furthermore, Shifeta said the ministry will host a national conference in May 2023, where stakeholder will dissect the issue of human wildlife conflict and propose long lasting solution to address it.
He urged communities and property owners in human wildlife conflict prone areas to put in place preventative and mitigation measures.