The wildlife reported to have died from unknown causes in Bwabwata National Park last week is worth close to N$10million, Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta informed The Villager.
120 hippos and 25 buffaloes fell to their death in their numbers this month, and those numbers are still expected to rise as the search of dead animals continues, although the cause of death is yet to be determined.
“We are not saying it is anthrax that killed these animals. We are just suspecting anthrax as the cause of the mortality. So we are waiting to hear from the laboratory whether it is anthrax so this is not yet confirmed as reported in some of the media. We are working hard and fast to get to the bottom of this,” he said.
He added that his ministry is collaborating with the agriculture ministry’s veterinary offices on the ground to work on the outbreak of this unknown disease.
The inhabitants living in those areas have also been informed not to touch or eat the meat of the dead animals.
“These animals are very expensive, so it is one of the highest mortality rate instances of wild animals ever recorded. These are animals that tourist come to see an annual basis and tourism is one of the strongest backbones of Namibia’s economy,” he said.
He further added that Namibia’s national parks are few of the parks in the world that have succeeded in protecting these animals and the state will guarantee that disease control programmes are put in place to avoid such high numbers of mortalities in future.
The official count of wildlife in the Bwabwata national park that was conducted last year has recorded more than 500 Hippos.
"I would like to inform the public in the area to bear with us as we await the results from the labs.
"As soon as we get the results of the test then we will know what exactly we are dealing with and we will inform them the way forward in term of what needs to be done as far as the communities living in that areas are concerned,” Shifeta said.
He added that other wildlife such as crocodiles and vultures are expected to be added to the death numbers they might eat the meat of these animals.