Elephants invade Outjo district (Namibia)


Elllanie Smit, Namibian Sun

Date Published

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Several elephant herds of approximately 100 elephants are causing havoc on farms in the Outjo district, resulting in thousands of dollars in damages.

One of these herds, consisting of about 26 elephants, has since Friday intruded a farm located about 70km from Outjo on the Khorixas road.

According to Johan Steenkamp, owner of the Landeck farm, the herd of elephants has been causing havoc and damage on his farm since Friday.

However, he is not the only one suffering from damage of this herd, he says. Steenkamp says the neighbouring farm has also suffered damage from this herd.

There are also another three herds causing trouble on other farms in the area. These farms include Wildklip, Damara Mopani, and Vasbyt.

In a radius of about 30km there are four herds of about 100 elephants, explains Steenkamp.

Steenkamp further says that he has been to the offices of the environment ministry at Outjo several times to ask for assistance. According to him the officials told him that while they have enough manpower to send out, there are apparently no vehicles available for them to use.

According to Steenkamp the officials told him that there are only two Land Cruisers, but both these vehicles are in for repairs.

“They showed me this white bakkie and told me that they are not allowed to use that vehicle on gravel roads,” he said.

However, Steenkamp said they were quick to preach to him that he is not allowed to shoot these elephants and what the fines could be if he does.

Steenkamp elaborated on some of the damage he incurred thus far saying that the herd has destroyed game fences at four different places, underground water pipes at a dam on the farm have been destroyed, at a water post a water tank was damaged, and furthermore, normal fencing on the farm was also destroyed.

“This started on Friday and it is now Tuesday, and still no officials have been here, so how long must we wait?” he asked.

According to Steenkamp, about two months ago they experienced the same problems and also incurred major damage.

When contacted for comment the spokesperson of the environment ministry, Romeo Muyunda, said that these are “residential elephants” and the farmers should know that by now. Muyunda said although they received reports last week about the elephants in the area there were no reports about any damage made to the ministry.

According to him a team was already deployed in the area last week Thursday and is monitoring the situation.

He also disputed the fact that vehicles are broken saying that there are vehicles available, but said that the ministry admits that they cannot be everywhere due to limited resources and said farmers should be patient.

Muyunda further appealed that farmers should not create a conflict situation with wildlife and work together with the officials in the field.

However, an official from the Outjo ministerial offices yesterday afternoon told Namibian Sun that a team from Khorixas must still be sent to assist the farmers, but he could not confirm when they would arrive at the farm.

When Namibian Sun enquired about the broken vehicles however, he said that is not actually that the vehicles are broken, but that they were unavailable.

According to him the ministry is busy with a game count and this is receiving first priority and therefore there were no vehicles available.