Human-wildlife conflict remains a concern – Shifeta
Incidences of human-wildlife conflict (HWC) remain a concern as they seem to overshadow the benefits as well as opportunities created for Namibians, an official highlighted this week.
The Minister of Environment, Forestry, and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta told the National Assembly during an update on the current status of HWC in the country that these incidents mainly involve infrastructure damages, livestock losses, crop damages, in some unfortunate incidences loss of life, and injuries to people,
According to Shifeta, in terms of crop damages since 2019, around 2,637 hectares were destroyed by wild animals, while 270 hectares were destroyed in 2022 and 60 hectares so far in 2023 mainly by elephants.
“Since 2019 a total of 862 livestock were killed by predators mainly crocodiles, hyenas, lions, wild dogs, leopard, and jackals of which 204 was recorded in 2022 and 9 in 2023 to date,” he said, adding that a total of 54 people were injured within the same period, 15 in 2022 and 3 in 2023 to date.
Shifeta said these incidents all affect the livelihoods of the people.
“ To manage and address the impact of HWC, the ministry has developed the National Policy initially implemented in 2009 and revised in 2018,” he said, adding that the policy provides for specific interventions to manage specific conflicts in different areas.
According to Shifeta, the ministry has since 2019 paid offset amounts to losses caused by wild animals amounting to N$24 million.
Consequently, the ministry has paid over N$9 million for livestock losses; N$2.5 million for damages; N$640,000 for injuries sustained by people; N$3.3 million for loss of life from 2019 to date.
“Within the same period since 2029, the Ministry has administered 33 claims for loss of life of which 15 were in 2022 and 4 so far in 2023 with crocodiles, hippos, and elephants being the main culprits,” he said.
Shifeta meanwhile said the ministry together with other stakeholders is involved and implementing problem-causing animals; declarations and putting down of problem-causing animals and wildlife population management.
“The ministry will host a national conference in May, where stakeholders will dissect the issue of human-wildlife conflict and propose a long-lasting solution to address it,” he concluded.