Communities encouraged to avoid wildlife conflict

16 November 2020 | Environment

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK



Environment minister Pohamba Shifeta has encouraged communities to take steps to prevent losses because of human-wildlife conflict.

He was speaking at the inauguration of water infrastructure last week, which has been upgraded at Okonjota village in the Kunene Region to help reduce human-wildlife conflict and improve living standards.

The project was carried out by the environment ministry in collaboration with the German government, through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

Shifeta said the ministry recognises that living with wildlife comes at a cost as larger wildlife populations and expanded home ranges into communal and freehold farming areas result in human-wildlife conflict.

“These conflicts are mostly caused by elephants and predators in many areas. This has resulted in livestock and crop losses, damage to infrastructure and loss of human lives.”

He stressed that supporting preventive measures in all affected areas remains a priority for the ministry.

The Kunene project consisted of the rehabilitation and upgrading of 18 boreholes, costing a total of N$7 million.

“The boreholes have been upgraded and rehabilitated for both communities and wildlife (mainly elephants) in order to mitigate the impacts of human-wildlife conflict and improve community livelihoods,” Shifeta said.

The water infrastructure will be handed over to the local communities, with support from the agriculture ministry.

The 18 boreholes have been fitted with new solar pumping systems, elephant protection walls and elephant dams.

Additionally, livestock drinking troughs were built and pipelines were extended to provide water to the communities. All these interventions were done to mitigate human-wildlife conflict and contribute to social development of communities. “I would like to remind the conservancies that the human-wildlife self-reliance scheme needs to be maintained with funding generated from wildlife utilisation. This is important to ensure sustainability and continuous mitigation of human-wildlife conflict,” Shifeta added.

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