N$100 000 for wildlife-related human deaths

Compensation for losses coupled with human-wildlife conflict has been vastly increased but, comes with responsibilities on the farmer's side.

03 July 2018 | Environment

Namibia's revised national policy on human-wildlife conflict (HWC) management that was launched yesterday includes a steep increase from N$5 000 to N$100 000 of the funeral and related expenses payout category for accidental deaths of people caused by wild animals.

Minister Pohamba Shifeta at the launch of the new policy yesterday said the increased amount is for funeral expenses and related costs, and forms part of government's moral obligation to assist families who suffer loss by certain species.

Shifeta also said the ministry is investigating a 'Human-Wildlife Conflict Insurance Scheme' and other preventative, protection and mitigation measures to address HWC contained in the policy.

Costs related to loss of human life, livestock or crop losses will be paid through the 'Human-Wildlife Conflict Self Reliance Scheme' and is aimed at financially supporting bereaved families to cover basic funeral costs but is “not in any way intended as compensation for loss of life”, the policy document notes.

The policy objectives of the self-reliance scheme are aimed at offsetting the losses of communities or individual farmers caused to livestock and crops and to “meet the moral obligation of government to support a family who has lost a family member to certain species of wild animal under conditions where the affected person could not reasonably have been expected to defend themselves or avoid the incident.”

Payments under the scheme are made to cover livestock losses at rates which do not cover the full value of the animals concerned but “aim to partially off-set the loss to the farmer,” the document states.

It targets both conservancy and non-conservancy areas on state land and resettlement farms, but not private land. Other payments that will be handled through the HWC self-reliance scheme include N$10 000 for injury with no loss of body part, N$30 000 for injury with loss of body part and N$50 000 for disability as a result of the injury.

Livestock loss payments have also increased under the revised policy, with the payment for cattle increasing from N$1 500 to N$3 000, goats from N$200 to N$500 and sheep from N$250 to N$700.

Payment for a killed horse is going up from N$500 to N$800, for donkeys from N$250 to N$500 and for pigs from N$250 to N$700.

The revised policy document notes that the ministry will further explore possibilities for payment of damages to property, including fences and water points, but that this is “highly dependent on the availability of funds.”

In terms of crops, the revised policy states that damages will be paid only if they are caused by elephants, buffaloes and hippopotamus.

The amount for crop damages for one quarter of a hectare has been slightly increased from N$200 to N$250 dollars, whereas the per-hectare payment has increased to N$1 000, compared to N$800 previously.

Shifeta yesterday underlined that human-wildlife conflict in Namibia has increased as a result of human and wildlife population growth, unplanned agricultural activities and the expansion of agricultural and industrial activities.

Moreover, the drought that has plagued many areas in Namibia for three years has added pressure on humans and wildlife competing for the same resources. “The ministry regards human-wildlife conflict as a serious challenge, that if not addressed appropriately, treated with necessary understanding and respect, and managed effectively, has the potential to harm and destroy conservation efforts and tourism benefits for the country,” Pohamba said yesterday.

He said the revision of the HWC policy was spurred on by the “scale and the urgency of the problem”.

The revised policy contains 12 strategies, that include research and monitoring, duty of care, land use planning and integrated measures to avoid HWC, human capacity and resources, community care and engagement, delegation of decision making authorities, removal of problem causing animals, and appropriate technical solutions.

Moreover, the policy addresses protected disaster management, application of revenues from problem causing animals to avoid future conflicts and how to address the losses of affected persons, areas neighbours and residents, management schemes and public awareness, stakeholder engagement and coordination.

The Human-Wildlife Conflict Insurance Scheme that is being investigated by the ministry would provide payments to affected parties whose family members die or are severely injured as a result of HWC. A livestock insurance scheme is also being investigated.

JANA-MARI SMITH

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