Elephants threaten agri sector

Farmers see wildlife as a threat

27 July 2021 | Agriculture

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK

The Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU) says the growing elephant population has the potential to bring the agriculture sector to its knees.

The union estimates based on 2016 figures from the environment ministry that the elephant population can be above 30 000.

“This does not necessarily include the free-moving elephants from Botswana. Nature is under pressure and the situation is not sustainable,” said the NAU.

The union said that its job is to help manage natural resources and maintain balance.

“Unfortunately, this goal does not seem to be achievable. The habitat of other species is being impacted and the commercial agricultural sector is feeling the punch.”

It pointed out that 72% of Namibia's population directly or indirectly depends on agriculture. In addition to mining, agriculture is the largest earner of foreign exchange and the largest employer in a country with an unemployment rate of 48%.

The union said that the Livestock Producers' Organisation (LPO) and other role players has for many years been doing their utmost doing their utmost to be part of a solution.

However, the union says that visits to policymakers in government and numerous written proposals are being ignored and bringing them nowhere closer to a solution.

“Officials apparently do not realise the damage caused by these animals in the commercial areas. Elephants have the potential to bring the national agricultural sector to its knees.

“A solution to the problem may be an electrified cordon fence,” the union said

The NAU continues to address this matter and tries to find amicable solutions to solve these challenges, it added.

Statistics

Namibian Sun reported last year that Namibia's elephant population is estimated to be between 23 663 and 24 091, with an estimated rate of population increase of 5.36%. It is based on these figures that it is estimated that the elephant population can now be above 30 000.

The environment ministry has said that the official numbers for the elephant population remains as is, however Namibia is the current chair of the Kavango–Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) and will participate and lead in the aerial elephant survey to be conducted in 2022.

The ministry also plans to conduct another national elephant aerial survey this year as the KAZA survey will only concentrate on the Namibian component of KAZA.