Environment and Tourism Minister Pohamba Shifeta has quelled international pressure on trophy hunting bans following a record of hyperactivity in illegal hunting syndicates in Namibia in order to secure 1 300 jobs.
This is because 50% of employment opportunities will be lost on joint cattle and trophy huntingoperated farms, while 100% of employment opportunities will be lost on exclusive huntingoperated farm. If trophy hunting is banned, it will result in at least a revenue loss of N$350 million for private farmers.
In 2014, trophy hunting contributed 39.9% of the total direct income to communities. Speaking in parliament last week, Shifeta said if income from trophy hunting is taken away, the operations of conservancies cannot be sustained at all.
The ban of all trophy hunting activities was imposed by a largely urban-oriented international community which, in many ways, represents a return to colonial-type external restrictions imposed on Africans. Shifeta further said the Community-Based Natural Resources’ Management (CBNRM) programme will collapse, and Namibia will fail dismally in conservation.
“The importance of trophy hunting in conservation is not only applicable to communal areas. About 80% of the numbers of the larger plains’ game species are found on private farmlands. Trophy hunting on privately- owned farmland has resulted in an increase in the value of game. With the increase in value which land owners realize from game, the conservation of game resulted in an increase in game numbers. A combination of cattle and trophy hunting operations employ double the number of permanent employees than cattle farms,” he explained.
In 2014, the CBNRM programme contributed about N$ 530 million in national income, of which N$ 87 million was generated directly for the benefit of rural communities. Annually, 6500 to 7000 jobs are created through this programme, and trophy hunting also contributes to the availability of protein supply in that meat of the trophy- hunted animals is distributed to rural communities.
“Therefore, a ban on trophy hunting will reduce the values of game species to their meat value, and private landowners will have to reduce their game numbers in order to increase cattle numbers in an attempt to substitute the loss of income,” Shifeta noted.
The minister emphasised that trophy hunting plays a vital role in the management and operation of conservancies by generating tangible returns after the conservancy is formed. The owners of cattle farms will also experience pressure on cashflow and profitability, and will need to source income from other sources. They may furthermore be forced to seek additional employment and farm with cattle on a part-time basis.
“It is also important to note that investments on farms are currently largely driven by the trophy hunting industry. This includes investments in game fences and other infrastructure. A reduction in infrastructural development on farms will negatively affect the suppliers of fencing and building materials, to mention just a few,” he said.
In 1996, a piece of legislation was passed to empower local communities to actively manage and benefit from both the consumptive and nonconsumptive sustainable utilization of wildlife through the formation of conservancies. This was done with the aim to encourage wildlife recoveries and environmental restoration in communal areas.
Shifeta said amongst other initiatives, this programme has contributed to the growth of the national elephant population from 7500 animals in 1995 to more than 20 000 currently.
“A large percentage of these elephants occur outside formal protected areas. Thanks to this programme, our national populations of giraffe, leopard, crocodile and cheetah are also very healthy today. Some of the local [nearly] extinct species have been restored in their former home ranges within communal areas, and this has expanded the range,” he noted.