Environment ministry makes progress on human wildlife conflict policy - Shifeta

The environment minister Pohamba Shifeta has said that the ministry has made progress towards human wildlife conflicts policy management to settle losses encountered by famers. 

The loss settlement amounts have been increased following complaints by farmers who have encountered losses, saying that the settlements are not enough.

“The ministry has managed to increase funds paid out for losses encountered and this is one of the greatest milestone the ministry has ever achieved. In the past the state was not able to pay the real worth of losses farmers have encountered but due to consultations and endless meetings we have finally managed to raise the amount paid for losses,” he said.

He added that a human life cannot be compensated in anyway but what the ministry is doing is to see to it that family members are left with money once a person has passed on due to animal attacks or when farmers have lost livestock due to wildlife attacks. 

Shifeta explained, N$100 000 will be dispensed for a loss of human life due to wild animal attacks.

While, when wild animals attack livestock, detailed investigations will be done and loss payment will be made according to the weight, size and worth of livestock unlike in the past when only a fixed amount was given to owners that have lost livestock due to animal attacks. 

“We have had cases where farmers would claim for livestock but what they have lost is not even what they claimed. For example, farmers come to the offices if a calf has been attacked by wildlife and would say it was a full grown bull, and this created chaos and was unfairness towards honest farmers. When our teams come to investigate they notice by the size of the skeleton and would come to a conclusion that the claims were false,” he said. 

Adding that farmers need to understand that wild animals only attack livestock when food is scares and this is because humans are hunting in the territories of carnivores.

The ministry still faces a challenge to educate people living in conservancies areas on the human-wildlife conflict management policy, on not to hunt without the consent of the ministry. 

“We are busy educating farmers on the policy and what needs to be done in conservancy areas. We expect to see changes very soon. One thing the people who are living in conservancy areas need to understand is that these areas belong to the wildlife and if they are hunting animals which carnivores are feeding on then these animals go from their territories to go hunt elsewhere even in kraals,” Shifeta said. 

He added that some of the major challenges the ministry faces include hunting of protected species on private land.

 The ministry has made efforts to educate people living on communal land to take care of protected species as they create income for them as well when tourist visits these areas. 

Shifeta said that the illegal killings of Rhinos were recorded only on private farms and not on communal farms. 

“By next year we will engage private farm owners on these issues and we will have to educate them on how to look after the country’s protected species. We have made very good progress in educating communal farmers who in the past recorded the highest numbers of illegal hunting of protected species,” he said.