6 October 2017

Namibia: Govt to Intervene in Elephant-Troubled Omatjete

GOVERNMENT is deliberating on permanent interventions to stop the loss of human lives and property caused by elephants in the Omatjete area of the Erongo region.

Director of parks and wildlife management in the environment ministry, Colgar Sikopo, gave this assurance on Wednesday in answer to sentiments expressed by Zeraeua Traditional Authority spokesperson Fabianus Uaseuapuani.

In a telephonic interview with Nampa, Uaseuapuani said the community was still traumatised because elephants continue to destroy their houses.

"We are very upset because our petition has not been responded to so far. We feel ignored. We do not know why the ministry is quiet because this is a serious matter."

He said the community does not need any other interventions such as putting down troublesome animals, but they need them out of the area.

The National Council's standing committee on habitat held community meetings at Omatjete and Uis on Monday and Tuesday to garner views regarding the elephants. Parliamentarians will compile a report with recommendations for submission to Cabinet.

This year, the Omatjete community experienced the death of a community member and the destruction of houses, boreholes, gardens and fences from elephants.

About two months ago, they wrote a petition to the ministry, demanding that the elephants be driven away from the area permanently

The animal which killed the man was put down, and rangers were deployed to the area to monitor elephants and ensure the safety of the community.

In reply, Sikopo said the community has not been ignored.

He claimed that officials will be sent to Omatjete to respond to the petition, while a formal letter of reply to the petition would also be drafted.

Sikopo, however, emphasised that the "idea of driving the elephants out of the area is not practical."

He said the ministry understood very well how serious the situation is, hence its plans to rectify it.

The ministry is looking at reducing the number of animals through trophy hunting, and fencing off houses which are in the migratory path of elephants.

"Another action we are deliberating is to get a transformer and provide electricity to the most affected villages so that the lights can keep the elephants away."

Sikopo added that the animal which was put down generated about N$100 000. This money can help in buying the transformer, or barbed wire for fencing.

"By next week, we should be able to finalise some of these plans, and decide which ones will be implemented."

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