NAPHA defends hunt of problem lion

Windhoek-The Namibia Professional Hunters Association (NAPHA) has explained the rationale behind the recent killing of a problem lion at Sesfontein Conservancy that was authorised by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET).

In a statement issued on Tuesday NAPHA expressed disappointment with what it terms an ill-informed public outcry towards a NAPHA member and outfitter regarding the marketing of a trophy lion, as per letter issued to Sesfontein Conservancy by the MET for a human-wildlife conflict lion.

This last resort effort was made by the MET in order to manage human-wildlife conflict and in part reimburse those affected by this conflict. This seems to strike at the heart of the general misunderstanding about the role of conservancies, as well as protected areas and a general ignorance of landscape ecology overall.

It seems that the public thinks of these areas as something akin to large zoos, offering absolute protection to every single individual animal, rather than conserving populations and balancing land-use for all Namibians, said NAPHA president Danene van der Westhuyzen.

Due to these ill-informed and unfounded facts being distributed widely through various social and media platforms, blame is being placed on all the wrong parties, van der Westhuyzen further stated.

NAPHA holds a very good relationship with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, justifiably by being an organisation which stands on firm principles and beliefs and by actively participating in strategic planning and mitigation.

The Ministry of Environment has justly followed its mandate and instructions, as per our national Constitution in trying to manage human-wildlife conflict in a way that recognizes the rights and development needs of local communities, recognises the need to promote biodiversity conservation, as well as self-reliance and ensuring that decision-making is quick, efficient and based on the best available information, he said.

The MET and NAPHA also recognize that it will never be possible to eradicate all human-wildlife conflict, but that conflict has to be managed in the most effective and efficient way possible.

It should also be recognized that people and wildlife live in an interconnected and dynamic environment, that land-use patterns are changing and that wildlife distribution patterns equally are changing, as animal populations recover and recolonise former parts of their distribution areas, he stated.

The claims that this specific male lion is the 'last male desert lion', is factually not correct. Furthermore, various communities have been threatening to poison or shoot the remaining lions in the affected areas, should actions not be taken to interrupt this problem.

As stipulated in the letter issued to the conservancy, all possible measures were taken to prevent conflict. MET was, however, requested to deliberate again regarding this matter and will revert to NAPHA shortly.

It is rather a shame that the Namibian public, by choice, would preferably support one animal instead of its national policy in encouraging balanced land-use for all Namibians.

It is in nobody's interest to eradicate any species in Namibia and ultimately we all have the same goal at heart � conserving our valuable wildlife through sustainable use, he concluded.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia