After the tragic death of Satao, the iconic elephant of Kenya, it is sad that the Namibian government has issued six permits to hunt desert elephants (these elephants live in the deserts of Namibia and are not a different species to the savannah elephants but have slightly larger feet to enable them to walk across the sand). Conservationists offered to buy these permits to prevent the unnecessary death of these elephants but they were rejected. The first desert elephant was devastatingly killed on the 14th of June. ‘Delta’ from the Ugab family was only one of three bulls and was shot by Nick Nolte Hunting Safaris. More shockingly the young bull was shot in Sorris- Sorris, a major tourist area, near to his family group and near to a local school.
It has been reported (not confirmed) that the permits have been given out to trade for meat for villagers in return for their votes for SWAPO. A spokesperson for the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET), Romeo Muyunda, confirmed the permits had been issued, saying: “The local people need to benefit from the elephants in some way or another, or they will begin poaching them,”. Basil Calitz, Tour Operator and Lodge Owner in Uis, approached Nick Nolte Hunting Safaris, with an offer to purchase, but was told the Namibian Government would not allow it. Anton Louw from Live Trophy confirmed that he also approached the government with an offer to buy the permits and replace the elephant meat with beef.
Conservationists and scientists have advised and strongly condemned the sale of these permits and has offered alternatives such as moving the elephants or giving beef to the local people. There are people who say that the number of elephants in Namibia is too high and it needs to be controlled. There are currently 10,000 elephants in Namibia. It has been said that the conservation efforts have been too successful and the population needs to be controlled as there is not enough space for the elephants. There are only two populations of desert dwelling elephants of around 600 in total. Today, there is one less.
What kind of message does this send? How on the one hand can we scream at people to stop poaching yet take money for permits to kill these animals? It is difficult to accept that the elephants have been ‘too successful’ and may cause conflict. There is little point in trying to conserve species if it then decided that they have been too successful and they have to be culled.
Five others face the same fate as Delta.