By Patience Nyangove
THE Ministry of Environment and Tourism is seeking a court order to compel Mariental tour operator, Johan Lombaard, of Golden Game CC to return two elephants that have been kept between storage containers since April.
Amid fears for the health of the elephants, because of how they are being kept where there is no shade, Environment and Tourism Minister, Pohamba Shifeta, wrote to Lombaard last month, instructing him to return the animals to Farm Eden, where he bought them from owner Johan Hansen.
Lombaard told Confidente last month that he will not return the elephants, as per the minister’s directive, because the elephants were captured, sold and transported legally, with the necessary permits obtained from the environment ministry.
The two elephants form part of 10 animals that were purchased by Lombard from Farm Eden.
Five of the elephants are destined for export to Dubai, and Confidente understands that they are being kept at Frauenstein 277, popularly known as N/a’an ku sê Lodge, while the other five elephants will be accommodated at Lombard’s lodge in Mariental.
“It has come to the attention of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism of the illegal capturing, sale and keeping of elephants by yourself on farms Geleksberg 82 Mariental and Frauenstein 277 Windhoek (sic). Pending the determination of these serious allegations by a court of law, I hereby direct as authorised under Section 78 (b) (d) (e) (f) and (i) of the Nature Conservation Ordinance, 1975 (No. 4 of 1975), as amended, to immediately transport these animals at your own cost to their original habitat in Farm 1264 Grootfontein by latest Wednesday the 23rd of August 2017 (sic),” Shifeta wrote to Lombaard.
Hansen told Confidente last month that he had legally sold the elephants to Lombaard.
Shifeta told Confidente at the time that if Lombaard is contemptuous of his instructions, the ministry would take action against him, by reporting the matter to the police. “We can now contact the police and have them charge them for possession of wild animals without the necessary permits. They had no permits to transport those animals. What they did was an illegal activity. I will send people there to check on the conditions of the animals. If the animals are found to be in a bad condition, then they will be charged with animal cruelty, as well. We also don’t allow animals to be removed from the wild and go straight into captivity,” Shifeta said. Lombaard insisted that all the necessary paperwork required by the environment ministry, to transport and keep the elephants, was obtained.
“I have all the paperwork and my lawyers are working with the ministry. I want to put them (elephants) in my camp, but the necessary paperwork for me to do that is with the ministry of environment, who don’t want to give me the go-ahead to put them in the camp. If the ministry is claiming I don’t have the necessary paperwork, why can’t they take me to court? You need two permits, which are the capture and transportation permits, and I have got them,” he said.
Lombaard admitted to Confidente that currently the two elephants in Mariental are being kept in an environment that is not conducive.
“But that is only a temporary measure, because the ministry won’t allow me to put them in my camp yet. They had asked me to put an electric fence around the camp, but they haven’t given me permission to do so.”
Lombaard also sent Confidente the permits issued to him by the ministry on 10 April.
Ministry of Environment and Tourism spokesperson, Romeo Muyunda, told Confidente last week that the two elephants were still in Mariental, which has forced the ministry to seek a court order.
“The elephants are still there and that’s why we are now seeking a court order to compel him (Lombaard) to return them,”
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015