Namibia ivory stockpile worth N$1 billion

11 March 2021 | Environment

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK

Environment minister Pohamba Shifeta says Namibia currently has an ivory stockpile of over N$1 billion, which in his view poses a serious security threat to the country.

He said in other countries there have been break-ins where the stockpiles are stored, but he assured that Namibia’s stockpile is safe and being guarded by the police and private security companies.

Shifeta revealed this yesterday in the National Assembly while responding to questions from the leader of the Popular Democratic Movement, McHenry Venaani.

He reiterated that Namibia would not burn its stockpile to please pressure groups, adding that if they want to burn it, they should come and buy it and burn it themselves.

The minister said the value that Namibia can derive from the trade in ivory is one of the most important, incentives for people to coexist with elephants.

Shifeta said a number of human-wildlife conflict incidents involving elephants, buffaloes and predators are reported daily in some parts of the country.

Reports of elephants causing damage to crops, water infrastructure and property in several regions of the country are the reason why the ministry is intensifying efforts to manage the conflict, he said.

Selling

He said that specific mitigation and preventive measures are being put in place to manage the conflict, which include driving away elephants to areas where they will not cause problems.

“The process of selling some of the elephants is currently at a stage of discussion and negotiation of contracts and the elephant population in specific hotspot areas will be reduced to minimise the conflict as we sell the elephants.”

Namibia last year advertised the sale of 170 elephants and received five bids. The ministry aims to raise N$13 million from the sale.

He said certain animals will be relocated and moved to national parks or areas where they cannot cause problems.

“Early warning systems by collaring specific elephants in different herds to monitor their movements and alert communities and farmers will also be conducted and has already been done in some areas.”

According to Shifeta, alternative waterpoints have been created for elephants at a distance from homesteads or villages in the Omatjete area of the Erongo Region, and Ehirovipuka in the Kunene Region.

With the support of the Game Product Trust Fund, the ministry plans to support communities and farmers in replacing their water tanks being damaged by elephants, said Shifeta.

At the 18th meeting of CITES held in Switzerland 2019, Namibia together with Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe proposed that they should be allowed to sell their stockpiled ivory, with sales proceeds going towards wildlife management and community programmes.

The proposal was rejected.

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