Bwabwata — The elephant population in Namibia has increased over the years from an estimated 7 000 at independence to about 23 736.
Environment minister Pohamba Shifeta announced this during the launch of the National Elephant Conservation and Management Plan and handover of equipment and material to members of the Anti-Poaching Unit in the Zambezi region last week. Shifeta said elephants have not only increased in numbers, but have also "expanded in range, and are now found in areas from which they went locally extinct for more than 50-70 years".
"Obviously, the conservation efforts have contributed to the increase in numbers and range," he added. Shifeta also launched the Land Use and Development Plan for the Bwabwata National Park and the Wildlife Corridor Strategy for Zambezi.
The minister stated that the development of the new strategy will provide guidance and a framework for elephant conservation and management in Namibia, which was started in 2019.
"All stakeholders such as communal farmers, freehold farmers, traditional authorities, line ministries and other relevant government agencies, civil society organisations, communal area conservancies, farmers associations and many others were consulted to provide input into the development of a national strategy to guide elephant conservation over the next 10 years," he observed.
"Elephant conservation and management - related challenges and opportunities were identified jointly with stakeholders, and management measures and actions were proposed for inclusion in the national elephant conservation and management plan."
While handing over equipment and materials to the anti-poaching unit, Shifeta said his ministry is committed to address challenges faced by the unit so that anti-poaching operations are conducted in an efficient and effective manner.
"We have succeeded in purchasing 500 mattresses and 13 fridges for the anti-poaching units in Bwabwata and surrounding areas, the Etosha National Park and the Palmwag area in the Kunene region.
During the month of November or beginning of December, we will hand over 500 tents, 50 torches, 14 other fridges and fencing material to be used for the protection of anti-poaching camps from predators," he added.