By: Garth Owen-Smith, Co-director of IRDNC Namibia

Over the past years the escalating media frenzy, sensational headlines and misinformation over the Ministry of Environment and Tourism’s issuing of trophy elephant hunting permits in Namibia has been incredible. Having worked as an agricultural official in the then Kaokoveld (1968-70), I was in charge of the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s field operations in Kaokoland and Damaraland (1982-1990), and since then been co-director with Dr Margaret Jacobsohn of the Namibian NGO Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation, which works with 25 conservancies in the Kunene Region, I would like to give my perspective on the issue.

Let me start with the situation in the late sixties. At the time I estimated the number of elephants in the Kaokoveld (north of Sesfontein) to be between 600 and 800, of which about 200 were permanently, or semi-permanently resident west of the escarpment, in the pre-Namib but which also moved down the larger riverbeds into the true Namib Desert. The only other elephants inhabiting such an arid habitat were in the Gourme Reserve, on the border between Chad and Mali.

When I returned to the region in 1982 the situation was very different. On the highlands of Kaokoland commercial poaching had wiped out all but about 50 elephants along the border with Owambo and the Etosha National Park. An accurate figure was impossible to get because most of this area was then a war zone. Based on Dr PJ Viljoen’s research (1975 to 1983) and an aerial census in 1982, west of the escarpment only six elephants survived on the lower Kunene River and 30 along the lower Hoanib River.

The situation in Damaraland was a little better, with 185 elephants in the Ombonde, Uniab and Huab river catchments, of which between 30 and 40 were in the pre-Namib along the Uniab and its tributaries. There were then no elephants in the lower Huab or in the Uchab catchment. However, as over 80 elephant carcasses were also counted, it was clear that large-scale ivory poaching was now taking place here. [read more…]

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  1. Rosa Borisova at 5:05 pm

    I could NEVER understand why anyone with it's right mind would want to "hunt" when he/she is not even a hunter!? The ONLY hunters on this planet are the carnivore animals and they have only one goal to survive and keep the environment clean. They are NOT killing for profits, "fun",enjoy weird bloodthirsty "sports" or/and just collect "trophies"to empower their coldhearted broken egos! Just because you can it doesn't mean you should nor, that is the right thing to do either! No special skills,no diploma, no dignity,no brains,no tactics and no bravery required to murder clueless,defenceless, vulnerable and helpless living being. So you tell me ..what is the big deal? I want to see you without the man-made tools and weapons "hunting"…and be there to lough, take pictures and share them on the internet for every one to see how foolish you are. Besides, disregarding another living beings as vegetables when are vital for the already fragile echo system is PURE EVIL. Thanks to selfish,arrogant, misguided and ignorant humans like you these great souls are loosing their precious lives. Much more important than yours obviously. They too have the right to live well, be protected,defended and respected as much as humans…may be even more. The animals have nothing to do with our :needs",personal problems and issues! Murdering them will not solve anything. Seeing a shrink will. Allowing your selves to just shoot at these sentient living souls is just as criminal as if murdering a human beings. You can be angry at me all you want… I will understand…the truth hurts. Other than that be grateful to people like me who chose not to murder anyone but protect,defend and appreciate others. Even if they don't look sexy, are not rich,nor famous… I know better to leave them alone and respect them just as they respect me. Can you imagine if all of us start shooting at everything that moves? There is not much left thanks to only few of you but there would have not be able to survive up to now at all. Why not become a hero and start for once in your lives do something good and be useful and really proud? I don't care how you look, how much money you have,what car you drive and how strong or famous are but,I care about what you do and what you say. A man without dignity, morals, compassion and respect for others is worthless…00000 points. Thank you for thanking the time and giving me the opportunity to share with you my thoughts about the self proclaimed "hunters" …man of greed and evil.

  2. African Elephant at 1:12 pm

    […] of elephants that the environment has the capacity to support, so elephant hunting safaris are an important conservation tool. Unfortunately, we are losing this battle in the courts. Anti-hunting organizations are slowly but […]

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