According to an article recently published in The Namibian a bull elephant has been making its way across commercial and game farms in the Hochfeld and Omitara areas of Namibia and has been the subject of concern.
While some farmers in the area were thrilled at the sight of the elephant on their land, several people have pointed out that the elephant’s life could be in danger as a result of human-animal conflict. The concern rises from the fact that the elephant will probably cause some type of damage to farm infrastructure such as fences or water installations, and as a result, farmers and government could deem it a ‘problem animal’, with fatal consequences.
However, Colgar Sikopo, head of the Directorate of Regional Services and Parks Management, said that ministry officials are closely monitoring the movement of the elephant, and that thus far, he has caused minimal damage and there is no reason to interfere with his passage.
Sikopo admitted that last week a farmer in the area lodged a complaint, claiming that the elephant had damaged his boundary fence. A team was dispatched and reported back that the elephant had caused only “minor damage”, Sikopo said. Sikopo said that as far as the ministry is concerned, the elephant is moving in its natural habitat and there is no reason for anyone to be concerned about its well being or right to be there.
“The elephant is in the bush, although it is on a farm. This animal is in the wild. We just have to closely monitor it”, he said. Sikopo said the ministry does not see the elephant as a problem “unless there is really serious damages”.
Christiane Thiessen, whose farm Otjimbuku, the elephant visited, said she and her team on the farm were overjoyed with the sighting. Thiessen described him as non-aggressive and calm around humans and said his behaviour indicated that he was careful not to damage any infrastructure, such as the low fences, on her farm during his visit. “At arrival at the fence he lifted his legs and without doing any harm to the fence climbed over it. He was not bothered with us at all”.
The origin of the elephant remains unclear. An Erindi Game Reserve staff member on Friday said that they had driven out to view the elephant, and it did not match photographic records of any Erindi elephant residents.
Later, the Namibian published another article, addressing the situation where a hunter had put out an advertisement for a trophy hunt on two elephants in the Omitara and Hochfeld areas. The hunter in question has denied he was the author of the ad or linked to its existence in any way. In response to the ad, several Namibians expressed their concern yesterday that a trophy hunt is being advertised although no permits have been issued for this particular hunt and neither have the two elephants in question been declared as problem animals.
Jofie Lamprecht, the professional hunter, who was named as the contact person in the advertisement for the trophy hunt, denied that he was scouting around for buyers for the permits or that he was involved in the alleged ad. He said he had no knowledge of the advertisement nor could he explain why his name was linked to it. “There are no permits. They have not been declared as problem animals. There are people interested in hunting those animals, but nothing can be done before a permit is issued.” he said.
Lamprecht told The Namibian that while there is discussions in the local hunting community around the fact that these elephants could possibly “at some stage be hunted”, no one would put the permit wheels in motion until after the animals were declared as a problem animal.
One of the Hochfeld farmers said that many farmers in the area were shocked and concerned when reports of the advertisement began circulating. “We are in a farming area and we would like to have all these wild animals back in the area. And why shoot an animal who is clearly so gentle and not doing any harm. Why should it be shot?” the woman asked. She added that while she would understand that measures would have to be taken if they caused severe damage, the farmers hoped that they would instead transport the animals back to a safer area instead of proclaiming them as problem animals.
As to the reports that already many hunters are oiling their guns in anticipation of a possible trophy hunt on the two elephants, she said, “It’s all about money. I think these people just want to make more and more money. They are not concerned about our environment and animals”.
Sikopo said that he was not aware of any hunting permits having been released. Sikopo said the elephants must be monitored closely with the hope that they return to the northeast, where their interaction with humans is limited. The second option, according to Sikopo, is to capture the elephants. If those two options do not work, only then would the ministry declare them as problem animals and have them hunted.
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Posted by Pat Dewil