The trampling of a Namibian trophy hunter by an elephant has raised the debate around hunting permits issued for the country’s gravely endangered desert elephants.
As reported in the Namibian newspaper New Era, a Namibian professional hunter sustained multiple injuries when a young elephant bull attacked him in the Uukwaluudhi Conservancy. He is now recovering in hospital.
The victim was assisting a German hunter who owns a hunting safari company. He was given a permit by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) and the professional hunter was helping him to identify the best elephant suitable for hunting.
The bull was subsequently shot by environmental officials and the meat distributed to the local community. It was the second elephant to be killed in the region in recent weeks.
Conservationists have been outraged over the government’s issuing of permits to hunt desert-adapted elephants found in Namibia’s north western reaches.
Namibian environmentalist Garth Owen-Smith, who won a prize in the 1990s for his conservation work against illegal hunting, recently highlighted the dwindling numbers of these unique creatures.
“This population of between 120 and 150 elephants that live most of their lives in the northern Namib are of enormous value to the country and the world,” he said.
According to sources on the ground, of this number only 18 are mature bulls – a fact which has enormous implications for the breeding potential and ultimately survival of the group.
The two trophy kills follow a press release by the MET, in which it stated that only two ‘own-use’ hunting permits had been issued to conservancies in Namibia’s north western region. However, this is allegedly in addition to seven trophy hunting permits that have also been issued.
The two bulls killed were both of breeding age. Following the death of the first, a member of the Namibian Professional Hunter’s Association commented to the Conservation Action Trust: “While I am completely in favour of sustainable hunting, I don’t feel entirely comfortable with the idea of shooting elephants in the Kunene region – particularly if they are of breeding age, as this bull was.”
Suzi Van de Reep, co-owner of the Kunene region’s Huab Lodge said: “I am horrified by what is happening. At the start of the century, we had 13 bulls who used to visit regularly – we could virtually set our clocks by their arrival to dig waterholes in the dry riverbed.
“Then, within a space of three years, we lost every single one of them to the gun – simply and solely because of hunting permits issued by the MET.
“And the tragedy is it’s not stopping. The government has to realise that these elephants are not replaceable.”
And you can spread the word - the MET needs as much heat on them as possible...
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