Etosha fence upgrade ongoing

Environment spokesperson Romeo Muyunda said maintenance of the infrastructure is a continuous undertaking.

07 September 2021 | Environment

ELLANIE SMIT







WINDHOEK

Approximately 118km of the predator- and elephant-proof fence on the northern boundary of the Etosha National Park has been upgraded during the 2020/2021 financial year.

According to the environment ministry spokesperson Romeo Muyunda, of this, 48km of the fence has been electrified and is functioning effectively.

“However, the remaining sections were upgraded and electrified, but the fence was damaged by elephants and will be repaired and electrified during the 2021/2022 financial year.”

He added that maintenance of infrastructure is a continuous undertaking.

Muyunda said a total of 27km on the south-western boundary fence was also upgraded, but has not been electrified. The electrification will be done in the current financial year.

According to him, staff members have been focusing on rehabilitating and maintaining the fence.

This includes grading service roads along the boundary fence necessary for electric fence maintenance and patrol purposes, removing rusted conductors, installing new conductors, setting up energising stations as well as testing, verifying and commissioning equipment.

Elephant hotspots secured

To date, a total area of 50km of the fence has been electrified, which includes 28km in elephant hotspots, Muyunda said.

He said the ministry is currently busy with the electrification of an additional 16km, which is expected to be completed by mid-September.

The ministry’s staff have also completed 70km of debushing.

He added that an agreement was signed with the National Youth Service to use their students to help in the construction of the fence. This project is expected to start this month.

Meanwhile, at the end of 2018, the ministry said it had reviewed the current design of the predator- and elephant-proof fence at Etosha to reduce the cost of construction.

Projections indicated that the “simplified fence” might cost approximately N$172.8 million for the remaining 720km to be completed.

That was down from the previous estimate of N$1.8 billion.

The ministry at that time said the cost might have contributed to the delay in completing the fence.

Over-designed

It explained that the fence it had been working on for more than 10 years was “over-designed” and therefore the cost of construction was too high.

The ministry therefore decided to reduce the fencing specifications on the current design, of which only 120km of the 842km was completed.

It was therefore decided to embark on a benchmarking process to find an alternative design that is affordable without compromising on the quality and effectiveness of the fence.

Projections at that time indicated that the simplified fence may cost approximately N$240 000 per kilometer or even less, depending on the terrain.

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