4 January 2013

Namibia: Commercial Farmer Shoots 'Troublesome' Elephant

AN emerging 63-year-old farmer in Outjo district, Christof Katjivena, shot and killed an elephant cow after a group of 36 elephants reportedly caused havoc at a commercial farm, Mopane Number 4, last weekend.

According to Katjivena, his wife informed him that a large group of elephants were at the homestead. The commercial farmer, who took out a N$1 million loan from Agribank in 2004, drove back to the homestead from a cattle post around 22h00 with elephants running away after seeing car lights. The elephants were at the water pump.

"After two hours the elephants came back after breaking trees and making a noise," Katjivena said.

The farmer then shone a hunting torch on the group of elephants. He switched off the torch, and in a few seconds after a shot was fired in the air to scare off the elephants from destroying the water pump, the farmer saw one of the elephants approaching.

"The elephant was running towards me and I did not have any other alternative as it was 50 meters away, so I pulled the trigger," Katjivena told The Namibian.

"I had to defend myself against it otherwise I would have been a dead man," added Katjivena.

He then drove towards the elephant cow and went back to his homestead before informing the Ministry of Environment of Environment officials about the incident the next morning.

Katjivena told The Namibian that since 2008, there was a problem with elephants on his farm and other surrounding farms where property was regularly destroyed by elephants.

"I have spent nearly N$1 million on repairing my property which elephants have destroyed since 2008," Katjivena said with a broken voice.

"Elephants have destroyed my fences, uprooted pipes and other infrastructure and I am tired of this," he said.

Katjivena said that on February 29 last year he and DTA president Katutire Kaura visited then Minister of Environment and Tourism, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, to discuss the escalating damage by elephants.

"The minister promised that the elephants would be moved to an area where they belong, but until now nothing has happened; it was an empty promise," Katjivena said.

The farmer blasted the government for failing to protect its people against wildlife.

"To our government wildlife is more important than human life. During apartheid times, Namibians never had a problem with elephants," Katjivena said angrily.

He said he wants to see the President or Prime Minister on the elephant problem.

Khorixas and Outjo officials of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism officials accompanied by the Protected Resource Unit were at Mopane Number 4 on Monday to investigate the matter.

The killing of elephants has divided Namibians into two camps on social network sites such as Facebook. Some people called for the protection of "trouble wildlife" while others defended the actions of the commercial farmer.

A elderly man was killed by an elephant early last year in the Khorixas area, while farmers in the Outjo and Khorixas districts regularly complain of elephants on radio.

Samuel James, principal ranger at the Khorixas office of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism told The Namibian yesterday that numerous complaints have been registered with the office by the Mopane farmer about "trouble elephants"

The elephant cow is believed to have a calf as milk was flowing out of her breast according to sources.

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