WINDHOEK, March 10 (Reuters) – Namibia has seen a surge in incidents of human-wildlife conflicts involving elephants, buffaloes and other species, mainly in the north and northeastern parts of the country, the environment minister told parliament on Wednesday.
Like several other African nations, Namibia is trying to strike a balance between protecting high-value species like elephants and rhinos, while managing the danger they pose when they encroach on areas of human habitation.
The country has resorted to auctioning off some of its elephants while relocating others to national parks. In some cases, government would “destroy” problem-causing animals, the minister said.
The plans have riled some conservationists, with several online petitions from animal rights groups.
Minister Pohamba Shifeta told lawmakers that elephants had caused the most damage to crops, water infrastructure and property in nine of the country’s 14 regions.
Buffaloes were reported to be destroying crops in the Zambezi Region neighbouring Botswana and Zambia, while lions attacked livestock, Shifeta said.
That has added to stress from the current drought situation in regions near the border with Angola.
Namibia has experienced heavy rainfall and flooding in most parts of the country this year, but the northern areas of the country have received little showers.
Small-scale farmers living close to the Bwabwata National Park in northeastern Namibia say marauding elephants invading their fields and eating their near-mature crops are a threat to food security.
Wild dogs are also causing conflict in the Salambala Conservancy in the Zambezi Region as well as areas in the Kavango East and Otjozondjupa Regions.
(Reporting by Nyasha Nyaungwa; Editing by Mfuneko Toyana and Lisa Shumaker)
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