Game Hunters Claim Exclusion

A NEWLY-FORMED trophy hunters group claims that the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) is disaantaging them by favouring an old association – the Namibia Professional Hunters Association (Napha).

Although Napha has more than 500 members, only a handful are allegedly previously disaantaged persons.

The members, who have formed the Newly Established Trophy Hunting Operators (Netho), say although they are previously disaantaged, the NTB has refused to recognise them. They further say that the NTB allowed Napha to decide whether Netho was eligible for the market during a meeting held on 6 June this year. Last year, the new group said NTB invited them for a trip to Finland as part of an empowerment scheme, but since then there has not been any communication. Even complaints lodged with the tourism body, they say, have been ignored.

As recent as last week, Netho says, NTB took Napha on a hunting fair trip to the United Arab Emirates to market their businesses, despite the fact that they are already well established.

Netho member Corrie Mensah told The Namibian that NTB had carried out research which acknowledged that trophy hunting farms should have a variety of game.

“NTB said they were in discussion with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism to enable us to obtain more game species from the ministry through the Wildlife Breeding Stock Loan Scheme,” said Mensah.

Mensah also said NTB decided that Napha should visit Netho farms before August this year to aise NTB on their shortcomings.

He said Netho members were angered that NTB was allowing Napha, which is subjected to the same statutory requirements, to carry out an audit after another done by NTB last year.

Mensah further said that Napha’s audit reports would be checked against a list of requirements to determine whether the new game farmers would qualify for assistance from AgriBank and NTB. NTB chief executive officer Digu Naobeb said since his organisation was not an expert in trophy hunting, they sought Napha’s aice to assist the game farmers to mainstream their operations.

“The possibility of receiving game through the scheme is decided by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, and not by NTB. Agribank, not NTB, grants loans to farmers,” Naobeb said. “Funding is a personal commitment, therefore, NTB could neither commit nor provide security on such loans. It is regrettable [that] promises were made to Netho for issues that NTB has no control over, and we hope that we have cleared this for the record,” he said.

Naobeb, however, said NTB will continue supporting the new game farmers by providing aice on how to improve their facilities to meet the regulatory standards.

He said although NTB is committed to supporting Netho, there is no official policy on how to balance the various industries, including tourism and bringing on board those who were previously left out from the mainstream activities.

Naobeb, however, revealed that NTB was planning to take Netho members to hunting fairs in the USA. “But there must be an understanding that one cannot attend hunting fairs without understanding the industry. We need to engage Napha to assist in this regard so that Netho is better prepared to derive full benefits,” he said.

He added that Netho should not view Napha as an obstacle, but rather as a partner and that the visits to their farms is only voluntary and with Netho’s permission. Napha members who went on the trip to the UAE, he explained, each paid US$4 500 to exhibit at the NTB stand.

Dietlinde Mueller, Napha chief executive officer, denied that her association was trying to make it impossible for Netho to penetrate the market. “We have no authority to dictate what is to happen with newly-established trophy hunting operations. We would like to help them in any way we can. If our help is not needed, then we will definitely not push anyone to accept our offer,” she said, adding that her association and NTB have a longstanding commitment.

“Napha pays for its share. Nothing is given for free. Napha, being a membership organisation, obviously spreads the news amongst Napha members. However, the ministry was also asked to participate. If Napha had been approached by Netho we would have included them immediately,” she said.

Attempts to get hold of environment minister Uahekua Herunga proved futile while the ministry’s permanent secretary Simeon Negumbo said he was unaware of Netho’s queries.

Source : The Namibian