MET hits back at critics

The environment ministry has lashed out at critics following the death of a male desert-adapted lion, saying the country will not be run for the benefit of tourists.

29 June 2018 | Environment

The environment ministry has responded sharply to international and local critics following the social media outcry after the green-light to kill a livestock mauling lion in the Kunene Region was given two weeks ago, by emphasising the need to protect communities from wildlife-induced stock and agriculture losses.

“The lion was shot in response to repeated incursions and following days of attempts to alleviate the situation using non-lethal methods,” Romeo Muyunda, the spokesperson o the ministry, said in an official response this week.

Muyunda said the lion in question was part of a pride that had raided stock at the De Rest farm, killing 27 goats and sheep, plus two donkeys.

“For many international followers this might be nothing, but for households in Namibia, this is a substantial loss.”

The statement noted that the critics, the majority of whom are international individuals and groups, seemed to suggest that the ministry should overlook “our own people's plights at the expense of tourists to the country”.

This, despite many rural communities “sharing their living space with dangerous predators and animals which most of the time destroy their property and other sources of livelihoods. In some instances, human lives are lost.”

Muyunda added that “it is a pity and shameful to see that some international people still think Africans cannot run their own affairs and therefore should be subjected to their ideologies that have no regard for our people.”

While the ministry understands and promotes the importance of tourism as an economic sector, “as a responsible government we will always put the needs of our people first without compromise or fail,” the statement read.

The statement also took aim at local critics, “who are simply unable to get their heads around the big picture of conservation on communal and commercial land, and the vital role that incentives, predator management and social acceptance play in the process.”

The estimated lion population in Namibia is around 700, without 430 residing in Etosha National Park, 120 in the Kunene and Erongo regions, 50 in Khaudum National Park and surrounding areas, and an additional 50 each in the Zambezi Region and on commercial farms.

The ministry also responded to allegations that funds generated through trophy hunting in Namibia are being pocketed by corrupt ministerial officials.

“We want to rubbish this claim by clarifying that funds generated through hunting are reinvested in the conservation of our wildlife through the Game Products Trust Fund and the Community Based Natural Resource Management programme, as well as rural development.”

The ministry underlined its multiple attempts to clarify its conservation methods, which have not stopped individuals and groups “keen on spreading unfounded rumours aimed at tarnishing the image of our country with reference to our wildlife management and utilisation thereof.”

The country's conservation tools are tailor-made to address wildlife and human conflict, which have been tried and tested with “tangible results visible in terms of wildlife population growth and recoveries”.

Namibia's wildlife numbers have tripled in the past two decades which has however resulted in increased human wildlife conflict, with lions, elephants and crocodiles the “main culprits”, as they compete with humans for resources and space.

The ministry said that its national policy on human wildlife conflict management was developed to address the country's conservation needs “while recognising and respecting the rights of the people and tourism development”.

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