9 June 2014

Namibia: Hunting Desert Elephants for Meat Raises a Storm - and Denials


To see the desert-adapted elephants of Namibia's north-eastern Kunene region, you have to travel far over rough roads, be patient and trust your luck. The sight of these gaunt, highly intelligent animals trailing down a dry riverbed is one of the country's great wildlife experiences. But these animals are increasingly under threat: political, environmental, and, of course, from hunting.

A report that hunting permits had been issued for six of these bulls to be killed for meat in exchange for villager votes in favour of the ruling party, SWAPO, was, if true, bound to raise a storm of protest from conservationists worldwide. The country's national elections take place in November and the ruling party is said to have little support from isolated communities in Damaraland and Kaokoland, which receives minimal assistance from the central administration. In an unsigned but widely circulated article, it was alleged that from the six elephants shot, each person in the region would receive about US$1 worth of meat.

According to the article, the meat-for-votes deal was made against the advice of qualified scientists and conservationists working for the protection of the desert elephants. A spokesperson for the Namibian Ministry of Environment and...

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