NAMIBIA FACES ECONOMIC LOSSES FROM RESTRICTIONS ON HUNTING

The loss of economic incentives for conservation through trade restrictions or pressure on hunting will lead to significant economic losses and an increase in poverty in Namibia, says Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta.

He expressed these sentiments during the ongoing 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 17) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) being held in in Johannesburg, South Africa.

"I strongly believe that a call to ban sustainable [trophy] conservation hunting or new unreasonable measures that would unduly restrict hunting will reduce the value of game species to their meat value and private landowners will have to reduce their game numbers in order to increase cattle numbers in an attempt to substitute the loss of income," he noted in a media statement issued here.

In 1996, Namibia passed legislation to empower local communities to actively manage and benefit from both the consumptive and non-consumptive sustainable utilisation of wildlife through the formation of community conservancies.

Namibia has 82 community conservancies and the government has not only translocated wild animals to these areas, but also granted local communities rights of ownership over those natural resources.

Trophy hunting and the sustainable use of wildlife in Namibia is done with the aim to encourage wildlife recoveries and environmental restoration in communal areas. Among other initiatives, the controlled trophy hunting in community conservancies has contributed to the growth of the national elephant population from 7 500 in 1995 to around 23 000 in 2016. A large percentage of these elephants are outside formal protected areas.

In 2014, Namibia's Community Based Natural Resources Management Programme contributed about 530 million Namibian dollars (about 38.75 million US dollars) in national income, of which 87 million NAD weregenerated directly for the benefit of rural communities.

Annually, 6,500 to 7,000 jobs are created and maintained through this programme.

The COP 17 meeting, which began Sept 24 and ends on Oct 5, is expected to make decisions on what additional measures are needed to end illicit wildlife trafficking.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK.