Minister makes case for trophy hunting
The Minister of Environment and Tourism, Hon. Pohamba Shifeta this week pleaded earnestly with environmental lobby groups against hunting, to put an end to what he explained would be detrimental to the conservation of rhinos and elephants.
He made the plea in response to a lawsuit filed by the American lobby group Friends of Animals to set aside the importation of black rhino horns in April 2015. A recent court ruling in the District Court of Columbia, Washington DC, dismissed an application by a consortium of US-based non-governmental organisations, on the grounds that no impact was found on the conversation of black rhinos, Shifeta explained.
Said Shifeta, “the NGOs jointly applied to ban the importation of black rhino products. A first attempt was dismissed, not on merit but on legal standing.”
Making a case for hunting, Shifeta argued, “our programmes are known to be good projects. Our species of both black and white rhino are on an increase and there is nothing to worry about. Our conservation efforts are clearly known. We have ethical hunting programmes.”
He added, “conservation programmes will be harmed if hunting stops,” explaining that hunting supports 82 conservancies and accounted for 60% of income. “Imagine if you take that away.”
“It is not fair to use a shotgun approach, each country should be treated on its ‘morals’,” Shifeta pleaded.
“In accordance with our legislation and policies, the proceeds generated by means of trophy hunting should be reinvested into the conservation of that species. This fund pays for black rhino conservation projects approved by the Fund’s board, such as law enforcement and anti poaching units, community benefits and surveys.”
A recent visit by the Economist to the Zambezi Region confirmed Shifeta’s claim, with conservancies heading their own anti-poaching units while generating sizeable incomes from the proceeds of trophy hunting.
Said Shifeta “our story has been hailed across the globe as it also seeks to empower Namibian citizens, particularly those in rural areas through employment creation and income generating activities.
Delivering the judgement this week, Judge Amy Berman Jackson said the conservation lobby application was dismissed because the permits were issued by the Namibian Government after considering the possible impacts on conservation.
“The court recognises the plaintiffs’ sincere commitment to the preservation of endangered animals, and this ruling does not suggest that there is no relationship between the importation of trophies of endangered animals and protecting these species.
“But the relationship between the particular permits challenged here, which authorise the import of spoils of hunts that were entirely within Namibia’s control, and plaintiffs’ feared diminished enjoyment of black rhinoceros in Namibia in the future is too attenuated to confer standing on plaintiffs,” Jackson added.