By Confidente Reporter
THE Namibian government needs about N$500 million to upgrade a 710km stretch of Etosha National Park fencing, which will keep elephants and predators inside the facility.
Since 2011, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism has constructed and electrified 112km of boundary fencing in the park, which is designed to reduce human-wildlife conflict.
Environment and Tourism Minister, Pohamba Shifeta, said this week that issues around managing human-wildlife conflict remain complex.
Rural farmers have recently complained about the dangers that roaming wildlife pose to themselves and their possessions.
“If not addressed appropriately and treated with the necessary understanding and respect, and managed effectively, (the issue of human-wildlife conflict) can harm and even destroy conservation efforts and tourism benefits for the country,” Shifeta explained.
“We recognise this threat, and in this regard, we are currently finalising the review of the National Policy on Human Wildlife Conflict Management, which is in its approval stage. Under this policy, a human-lion conflict management plan for northwest Namibia has been developed, and will be implemented fully.”
According to Shifeta, it is also evident that the widespread and serious drought across the country, for the past three years, is aggravating the situation.
This, he said, was due to fact that people and wildlife in several places compete for the same resources. “The good rains received in some parts of Namibia during this last season resulted in good crop production by communities, but at the same time attracted elephants and other large herbivores, such as buffaloes, which cause damage to people’s crops.
“The floods in the north and northeast of the country also changed human settlements and restricted the movement of wild animals in specific areas, which resulted in human-wildlife conflict,” the minister said.
Shifeta said the estimated lion population in the country was around 700, with 430 lions living in the Etosha National Park and the surrounding commercial farms.
Another 120 lions are found in the Kunene region and parts of the Erongo region, while 50 can be found in the in the Khaudum National Park and surrounding areas of the Kavango East and Otjozondjupa regions.
Fifty lions are living in the Zambezi region and the rest are to be found on commercial farms. Shifeta said that the carrying capacity of the Etosha National Park is 350 lions, and that this depends on the availability of prey.
“Lions escape from the Etosha National Park now and then. They are attracted by livestock that graze along the Etosha National Park, due to farmers that establish cattle posts or graze livestock close to the park. “This situation is similar to other parks, like Bwabwata, Khaudum, Mudumu and Nkasa Rupara, but these parks are not fenced off and the animals move between them and conservancies, which communities have accepted, as long as there are benefits for them. Lion conflicts have also been reported in the eastern floodplains of the Zambezi region,” Shifeta said.
“As a result of the incidents of human-lion conflict around the Etosha National Park, eight lions were killed in the Omusati region, of which six were killed by members of communities, and two were killed by officials of the ministry, after having been declared as problem causing animals.” In the Oshana region, one lion was killed by community members, while in the Oshikoto region three lions were destroyed by ministry officials.
No lions have been killed in the Zambezi, Kavango East and Otjozondjupa regions this year, as a result of human-wildlife conflict. The minister in recent weeks expressed his dissatisfaction over the killings of lions, as reported by the media.
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