March 9, 2018
The conflict between humans and wild animals such as lions, leopards and
especially elephants, in the Omatjette communal area, has reached alarming
proportions. The elephants destroy everything in their path, such as
houses, borehole installations, fences and gardens.
Unfortunately, there has so far been no compensation for the loss of lives
and properties. On 4 October 2017, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on
Habitat held consultations with the community, and promised to escalate
this matter to Cabinet, but nothing has happened to date.
A director in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Dr Colgar Sikopo,
was quoted in the media as saying that the N$100,000 that was generated
from the culling of one elephant will be used to build fences around some
of the homesteads that are in the migratory paths of the elephants, as well
as to construct a transformer to provide electricity so that the lights at
night will keep the elephants away.
However, the problem is that the elephants keep changing their migratory
paths depending on the availability of water and the nature of the
obstacles along the way.
They will thus just move to another village that has no fences, assuming
that the fences are effective. So, the question is whether the government
will be able to afford to build fences around all the homesteads in the
entire communal area.
The most permanent solution will be for the government to relocate these
elephants (currently estimated at 70 strong) back to Etosha.
Instead of providing half a solution of fences around some homesteads, the
government can instead use those funds to build a proper fence around
Etosha in order to keep these beasts inside Etosha where they belong.
Alternatively, the government can convert the entire Omatjette communal
area into a habitat for elephants, but then they will have to resettle all
the farmers to another suitable area where they can farm peacefully and
sustainably away from the scourge of elephants.
The current communal area is drought-stricken and is now forced to share
the limited pastures with elephants, which is obviously not sustainable.
If this situation is not resolved on an urgent basis, the Omatjette farmers
shall be left with no option but to approach the head of state.
Unfortunately, if all these efforts fail, then the farmers shall be forced
to take the law into their own hands to deal with the scourge of elephants
by any means necessary.
—Rikondononee Upendura Katjatenja, Spokesperson for No More Elephant Group
This news service is provided by Save the Elephants.