By: Justicia Shipena
Environment and tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta says banning trophy hunting will have a catastrophic effect on the Namibian people and its wildlife.
Shifeta said this at a press conference in Windhoek earlier this week following reports that the United Kingdom, Belgium and Finland are to ban the import of hunting trophies.
“We are nonetheless concerned that this action may have unintended negative consequences for Namibian people and wildlife if an option to ban the import and export of trophies are taken,” said Shifeta.
This follows after a joint position paper, 136 conservation and animal protection organisations worldwide, including 45 NGOs from African countries, speak out against trophy hunting and urge policy-makers to ban imports.
According to him, as of 2018, an estimated 230 000 communal area residents, 9 per cent of Namibia’s total population, were members of communal conservancies, which have created jobs for nearly 5 000 people.
“These conservancies are responsible for managing wildlife on 169 756 square kilometres of land, 21 per cent of Namibia and over two-thirds the size of the UK. Communities generated approximately Euro 7.7 million in cash and other benefits from this land during 2020 alone,” he said.
He said about 30 per cent of the returns were derived from conservation hunting, which includes what is commonly known as trophy hunting, while the remainder was from photographic tourism and other nature-based enterprises.
“On private farmlands, wildlife ownership has encouraged the recovery and growth of numerous species. Collectively, they host about 82 per cent of Namibia’s wildlife population, generate Euro 13.6 million in annual hunting revenues and employ over 6,000 people in rural areas,” he said.
Shifeta defends that the activity also contributes to food security, as over 95 per cent of the venison produced on these lands remains within Namibia.
“The economic contribution of the wildlife sector has overtaken livestock production and is an important part of our future adaptation to climate change in our semi-arid country.”
He further said this form of hunting removes under one person of the national wildlife population each year.
“In the case of slower breeding species such as elephant, typically breeding at 3 to 5 per cent per year, the offtake is far lower, at about 0.2 per cent. Therefore high-value hunting by clients from Europe and elsewhere is an important contributor to the sustainable wildlife economy in Namibia,” he said.
Surveys in the EU, Switzerland and the U.S. confirm that between 75 and 96 per cent of respondents oppose trophy hunting and support import bans for trophies.
This week, the South African public and international tourists no longer appreciate trophy hunting. At least 84 per cent want the South African government to ban this tourist practice, which decimates wildlife. This is the result of a survey published on 10 August 2022, World Lion Day.
In 2019, 5 001 trophy hunters visited Namibia for hunting. Of these numbers, German tourists or hunters were the highest, totalling 1 792.
“USA followed this with 934, Austria 378, Hungary 210, France 196, Sweden 189, Spain 155, Denmark 103, Russia, Australia 70. Other countries were to a combined number of 888 hunters,” said Shifeta.
Due to Covid-19, the number went down in 2020 to 871 trophy hunters. German hunters also topped the list during that period, and the USA remained second.
“In 2021, a total of 2 587 trophy hunters were recorded. German hunters were again the highest with 824 hunters, followed by the USA with 775 and Hungary with 146.”
He concluded that Namibia could demonstrate that trophy hunting positively contributes to wildlife conservation and the rural economy.
“We encourage all countries that import trophies from Namibia to adopt a targeted and measured approach.”
Reports show that between 2014 and 2018, almost 125 000 trophies of cites protected species were imported globally, with the US and the EU as the biggest importers.