FINAL preparations are being made to successfully carry out 'Operation Noah’s Ark II'.
Environment and Tourism Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah told The Namibian that all international requirements governing the movement of animals from Africa to Cuba have to be taken into account before the translocation of the first group of the 146 wild animals will leave Namibia.
“We are busy with the last veterinary tests on the animals which is in line with the CITES requirements to move the animals to Cuba.”
The Namibian government donated the wild animals, valued at N$7,5 million, to Cuba.
The first group was supposed to leave for Cuba last month but according to the minister that was not possible as all tests were not conducted.
“We are through with the capturing and if some of the animals are not translocated due to the veterinary tests the number will decrease, since we are not going to capture any more animals,u” said Nandi-Ndaitwah.
According to her the larger animals such as elephants, rhinos, lions, buffaloes, leopards and cheetahs will only be translocated by early next year.
“We want this operation to be completed before the end of this financial year and only then we would be in a position to inform the public about the funds that were spent on this issue.”
According to Nandi-Ndaitwah the first group of animals might leave Namibia this week, but that would depend on the tests that have to be carried out.
The 23 species of animals are currently accommodated in bomas at the Waterberg Plateau Park.
It was decided, for veterinary reasons, that warthog, waterbuck, wildebeest and zebra will not be exported to Cuba.
The animals to be translocated to Cuba are roan antelope, common impala, greater kudu, Cape eland, white and black rhino, gemsbok, springbok, hartebeest, elephant, buffalo, spotted hyaena, brown hyaena, lion, porcupine, leopard, black-backed jackal, cheetah, caracal, honey badger, bat-eared fox, ostrich and white-backed vulture.
The National Zoo of Cuba is ready to receive the donation from Namibia, said Miguel Abud Soto, the director of that institution, when speaking to the Prensa Latina news agency.
According to Soto it is important for Cuba that the project, called Noahu’s Ark II, is a success, adding that the species will be located in the National Zoological Park which hosts 850 animals and covers 342 hectares.
“The park was renovated, partially reconstructed and extensive maintenance was conducted,” said Abud Soto this past July in response to criticism from animal rights groups on the island.