MET needs more funds to fence-off Etosha

WINDHOEK: The Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) needs more than N.dollars 40 million per year to construct proper boundary fences to keep animals safe in the Etosha National Park.

Environment minister Pohamba Shifeta told members of parliament during the debate on the budget of his ministry in the National Assembly (NA) a week ago that fighting poaching in the park will be fruitless if the elephant and predator-proof fence covering the boundaries of the park is not completed.

He said the ministry has been constructing an elephant and predator-proof fence covering the entire Etosha boundary since the year 2011. Some 97 kilometres (km) of the northern boundary fence has been completed. However, increasing damage to the southern and western fences has been observed in recent years due to activities by both elephants and communities, such that it is now in a very dilapidated state and in need of urgent attention.

“Our efforts to fight poaching in Etosha will be futile unless we upgrade this fence as criminals now have un-fettered access in-and-out of Etosha,” he stated.

Early last month, a total of 31 rhino carcasses with horns and some without horns were discovered in the western parts of the park between 01 and 18 April 2015 by the ministry’s game rangers.

The annual allocation of N.dollars 40 million for this program is not sufficient as it translates into only 20 km of fence construction per year. This means that it will take the ministry more than 10 years to complete the entire 824 km fence, according to Shifeta.

MET requested a total of about N.dollars 167 million for the further construction of the game-proof fence in Etosha during this financial year. In the face of increased poaching of elephant and rhino, Shifeta highlighted that consideration of increased resources to this project is needed.

“I therefore call for the allocation of adequate resources to this critical and pressing matter. I will be making a Cabinet submission in this regard in the coming weeks,” he added.

MET was allocated about N.dollars 643 million from the 2015/2016 National Budget for this financial year.

SOURCE: NAMPA