Namibia Invests Millions to Protect its Wildlife
PUBLISHED 8 MAY 2018
Namibia is a country blessed with many assets. With a unique cultural heritage, spectacular landscapes and rich biodiversity, it has a wealth of splendours to entice tourists. But, arguably it biggest and most powerful drawcard is its wildlife. Visitors from all over the world come to see wild game roaming in their pristine natural habitat. Yet, this asset is gradually being decimated by poachers targeting large game such as elephants and rhino.
In 2017, poachers killed 32 rhinos and 22 elephant in Namibia. Although these figures have improved compared to those of 2016, where 62 rhino and 101 elephant were poached, they are still cause for concern.
So much so, that the Ministry of Environment and Tourism has now been allocated a budget of N$178.6 million for 2018/19 to improve the management, protection and conservation of its natural assets and to combat wildlife crime in the country.
Although Namibia has seen a decline in the number of elephant and rhinos being poached, the government will continue to fund efforts aimed at reducing poaching to insignificant levels, said Pohamba Shifeta, Namibia's Minister of Environment and Tourism. Legislation pertaining to wildlife protection and law enforcement has been amended with fines and penalties for those found guilty of poaching and/or being in possession of illegal wildlife products such as elephant tusks and rhino horns, increased, in an effort to act as a stronger deterrent.
According to Shifeta, their primary focus "will be to create long-term sustainability, good governance and proper management of community-based natural resources management programmes for the benefit of all people."
"Wildlife shall be managed in a way that recognises the rights and development needs of people while recognising the need for biodiversity conservation, leading to reduction in human-wildlife conflict incidents," Shifeta noted.
The Ministry of Environment and Tourism has been allocated a total amount of N$402 million for the 2018/19 financial year — $337.8 million for operational costs and N$64.2 million allocated for developmental costs.
N$26.3 million has been allocated for the protection of natural habitat and key species, including improving management and protection of these resources, as well as the sustainable utilisation of wildlife resources and scientific services that strive to improve natural resources for economic development.
The ministry has also budgeted N$21.9 million for tourism development and N$22.7 million for the protection of the environment and natural resources, including environmental assessments, environmental inspections, sustainable land use initiatives that promote biodiversity, waste management and pollution control measures.
N$74.4 million has been budgeted for the development of new infrastructure in protected areas, particularly infrastructure such as water points and fencing that will reduce human-wildlife conflict.
Hopefully these funds will be put to good use to ensure Namibia's natural assets are protected for locals and visitors to continue to enjoy in the future.