By Ellanie Smit, The Namibian Sun
Environment minister Pohamba Shifeta has made it clear that there is no place in Namibia for unethical hunting, which will damage the country’s reputation.
Shifeta, who was speaking at the annual general meeting of the Namibia Professional Hunting Association (NAPHA) on Tuesday, stressed the significant role of hunting in wildlife conservation.
According to him the Namibian conservation model, which has received international acclaim, is based on the premise that people living with wildlife are the rightful custodians.
He said Namibia’s laws and policies therefore provide for rural communities and private landowners to manage their wildlife populations sustainably and derive financial and other benefits from these natural resources. “Our policy of devolving conditional wildlife ownership rights to our people has produced excellent results for wildlife conservation and rural sustainable development.”
According to him wildlife ownership on private farmland has encouraged the recovery and growth of numerous species. He further pointed out that wildlife contributes to food security, as over 95% of the venison produced on these farms remains in Namibia.
Shifeta said the economic contribution of the wildlife sector has overtaken livestock production and is an important part of Namibia’s future adaptation to climate change.
“The economic competitiveness of wildlife-based land use has driven Namibia’s ‘re-wilding’ success, with huge gains for wildlife, biodiversity conservation, job creation and the national economy.” Shifeta stressed that conservation hunting is therefore an important part of Namibia’s integrated sustainable development and conservation strategy.
He said the most economically valuable and least extractive form of hunting is selective high-value hunting, whereby an international client pays a premium to hunt individual male animals.
According to Shifeta the ministry closely regulates this practice, through registering trained local professional hunters who accompany each client and issues permits based on quotas set by using reliable information on the basis of the application of science.
“Without hunting, large parts of our land would be less productive. Hunting lessens the gravity of the ecological and socio-economic impacts of climate change. To lose hunting would have a significant impact on conservation and would detract from the competitiveness of wildlife as a preferred land-use.”
Shifeta also reminded the professional hunting sector in Namibia that there are calls and continued advocacy to halt conservation hunting.
He said the government through the ministry is ready to defend and stand by conservation hunting, considering its contribution to conservation and to the social economic development of Namibians.
“It is in the interest of the conservation fraternity, in its broadest context, that the hunting sector in Namibia is successful.” Shifeta therefore called upon the sector to ensure that conservation hunting is practiced to the highest levels of professionalism to enable them to defend it against uninformed opinions.
“Any ban on the import of hunting trophies threatens to erode all the progress made in our country since independence.”
He added that the self-regulation of hunting in Namibia by NAPHA directly assists in having Namibia play a leading role in, and set an example to other African countries and the world on responsible sustainable use and conservation.
The minister said the ministry will continue to work in close cooperation with NAPHA in dealing with matters of mutual concern and will also value and respect the role that it plays in the conservation of Namibia’s natural resources.