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Troubled times for Namibian wildlife – conservancy stock dwindling

Troubled times for Namibian wildlife – conservancy stock dwindling

By John Grobler, a veteran investigative environmental journalist based in Windhoek and two-times CNN MultiChoice Africa award winner for his work on organised and environmental crime.

There are worrying signs that Namibia’s legendary wild game numbers may be plummeting. Four years ago the Namibian Professional Hunters Association raised an alarm about the lack of huntable elephant bulls in the Caprivi region, where the number of communal conservancies had grown from one in 1997 to 15 today.

A professional hunter named Stephan Jacobs described a 2015 hunting trip to a conservancy in the eastern Caprivi as “the worst experience in my life” because there was so little game left. He said it was a crime to shoot anything.

How could the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) issue a quota for four hippos when there were only two small cows left in that entire stretch of the river?” he asked. “It’s absolute insanity what is going on there.”

According to MET, however, things are fine. In a letter to a local NGO, acting Executive Director and current Environmental Commissioner Teofilus Nghitila said communal game herds had tripled as a result of the Community-Based Natural Resource Management approach.

Namibia, he said, is an African conservation success story and any suggestion to the contrary is evidence of a racist attitude that put wildlife ahead of Africans who share their living space with dangerous animals such as lions, elephants and crocodiles.

Game sightings appear to contradict this. According to informal reports from several conservationists, hunting and tour guides, lodge owners and former MET employees, wildlife in large numbers is scarcely seen anymore in Namibia.

It is no secret why the game has disappeared, they say. The worst drought in 30 years between 2013 and 2016 caused major die-offs. The hardier plains game initially survived. But the drought collided with the MET’s shoot-and-sell policy which allowed cash-strapped conservancies to harvest their animals, especially plains game, to sell into the bushmeat trade.

Poor controls resulted in the permit system being widely abused and a major public outcry on social media and in the local press ensued. As a result, according to the Director of Parks and Wildlife Management, Colgar Sikopo, the MET suspended quotas of plains game for shoot-and-sell and own use in the conservancies in 2018.

But, according to Izak Smit, a businessman who makes monthly field trips with his photographer wife to keep close track of the last desert lions in northwest Namibia’s Kunene region, it was too late.

He said the loss of game has caused the lions to increasingly attack local farmers’ cattle and donkeys, which has led to widespread lion poisoning, including the five males made famous by the 2015 documentary ‘Vanishing Kings: Lions of the Namib.’ On all their most recent field trips, he said, the only game to be seen were small, isolated herds of zebra and springbok and the occasional pair of oryx.

When we asked an official of the NGO Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation about the sharp decrease in numbers since 2011/12, we were told that they ‘got the 2013/14 game counting formula wrong’ which overstated game numbers and resulted in over-utilisation. The drought, of course, then followed and did the rest.”

He said urgent moratoriums on shoot-and-sell permits and own utilisation “were self-imposed by conservancies ever since, but we have yet to see any change or improvement in the status quo.”

In a written response to questions, the Sikopo acknowledged the reduction in plains game in Kunene, which he attributed mainly to the drought.

He also outlined challenges in Namibia’s Community-Based Natural Resource Management model, including human-wildlife conflict arising from the conservancies’ “good conservation practices” and mismanagement of funds by conservancy managers. But he defended the conservancy model, writing that it “is no doubt a conservation and rural development success story which we are proud of”.

His responses come as no surprise. The ministry’s international reputation and the careers of its top officials were built implementing Community-Based Natural Resource Management. Members of the MET’s new Nature Conservation Board are mainly like-minded champions of hunting.

Neither the Environmental Commissioner Teofilus Nghitila nor the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, could comment as they were in Texas attending the Dallas Safari Club Show 2019, where the current Namibian Professional Hunters Association president, Danene van der Westhuyzen was elected to the club’s new Conservation Advisory Board.

See more at Conservation Action Trust.


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Following reverse listing, public can now acquire shareholding in Paratus Namibia


20 February 2020, Windhoek, Namibia: Paratus Namibia Holdings (PNH) was founded as Nimbus Infrastructure Limited (“Nimbus”), Namibia’s first Capital Pool Company listed on the Namibian Stock Exchange (“NSX”).

Although targeting an initial capital raising of N$300 million, Nimbus nonetheless managed to secure funding to the value of N$98 million through its CPC listing. With a mandate to invest in ICT infrastructure in sub-Sahara Africa, it concluded management agreements with financial partner Cirrus and technology partner, Paratus Telecommunications (Pty) Ltd (“Paratus Namibia”).

Paratus Namibia Managing Director, Andrew Hall

Its first investment was placed in Paratus Namibia, a fully licensed communications operator in Namibia under regulation of the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN). Nimbus has since been able to increase its capital asset base to close to N$500 million over the past two years.

In order to streamline further investment and to avoid duplicating potential ICT projects in the market between Nimbus and Paratus Namibia, it was decided to consolidate the operations.

Publishing various circulars to shareholders, Nimbus took up a 100% shareholding stake in Paratus Namibia in 2019 and proceeded to apply to have its name changed to Paratus Namibia Holdings with a consolidated board structure to ensure streamlined operations between the capital holdings and the operational arm of the business.

This transaction was approved by the Competitions Commission as well as CRAN, following all the relevant regulatory approvals as well as the necessary requirements in terms of corporate governance structures.

Paratus Namibia has evolved as a fully comprehensive communications operator in Namibia and operates as the head office of the Paratus Group in Africa. Paratus has established a pan-African footprint with operations in six African countries, being: Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.

The group has achieved many successes over the years of which more recently includes the building of the Trans-Kalahari Fibre (TKF) project, which connects from the West Africa Cable System (WACS) eastward through Namibia to Botswana and onward to Johannesburg. The TKF also extends northward through Zambia to connect to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, which made Paratus the first operator to connect the west and east coast of Africa under one Autonomous System Number (ASN).

This means that Paratus is now “exporting” internet capacity to landlocked countries such as Zambia, Botswana, the DRC with more countries to be targeted, and through its extensive African network, Paratus is well-positioned to expand the network even further into emerging ICT territories.

PNH as a fully-listed entity on the NSX, is therefore now the 100% shareholder of Paratus Namibia thereby becoming a public company. PNH is ready to invest in the future of the ICT environment in Namibia. The public is therefore invited and welcome to acquire shares in Paratus Namibia Holdings by speaking to a local stockbroker registered with the NSX. The future is bright, and the opportunities are endless.