THE Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism last year spent more than N$4 million on human-wildlife conflict issues under a scheme that covers livestock loss, crop damage and loss of life or injury to humans.
This was revealed in the annual financial report tabled in the National Assembly by environment minister Pohamba Shifeta last week.
Shifeta said human-wildlife conflict was worsened by the severe drought in 2019, and the cumulative effect of previous consecutive droughts and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
He said several people were injured, some fatally, by wildlife during the 2019/20 period.
“Sadly, seven people lost their lives to wildlife during 2019/20, while 37 people were injured,” Shifeta said.
According to the statistics in the report seen by The Namibian, the Zambezi region was the worst-affected with 17 injuries, followed by Kavango East with 12, Omaheke with eight, Erongo with five and Kunene and Etosha with one each.
“Almost 80% of injuries and loss of life were caused by four species – hippopotamus, leopard, crocodile and buffalo,” the report stated.
The minister also detailed that more than 1 000 livestock were lost and thousands of hectares of crop fields destroyed.
“A total of 1 422 livestock were reported to have been killed by predators with the Kunene, Oshikoto and Zambezi regions worst affected.” he said.
In Kunene region, 391 livestock were lost to predators; while 186 were lost in the Oshikoto region and 180 in the Zambezi region.
Lions were mostly responsible, accounting for 29% of all losses.
“It is estimated that more than 1 600 hectares of crop fields were destroyed by various wildlife species, particularly in Kavango West, Kavango East and Zambezi regions. Several reports were also received of property damage, mainly by elephants,” Shifeta said.
Elephants accounted for 93% of all crop damage, most of which occurred in the Kavango West region.
Shiefta said the ministry paid N$4,4 million in 2019 to conservancies and farmers in communal areas through the human-wildlife conflict resilience scheme.
Beyond this, the minister said, they have also introduced a number of mitigation measures in areas where human-wildlife conflict is high.
These measures include predator-proof kraals, protection walls around water infrastructure and mapping of wildlife migratory routes in the affected areas, among others.
One of the ministry’s mitigation and prevention measures for human-wildlife conflict is putting down problem animals.
During the year under review, the ministry put down 84 problem animals, most of them lions and elephants.
Twenty-eight problem lions were killed, while 17 elephants were put down. Furthermore, the ministry put down five crocodiles, four hippopotamuses and leopards, two hyenas, two jackals and one python.
Overall, Shifeta said the ministry has so far achieved a 96% budget execution rate; having used N$430 million out of its N$447million allocation.
Source – https://www.namibian.com.na