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Environment minister Pohamba Shifeta has reiterated that earnings of N$4,4 million accrued from auctioning 37 elephants was not the priority of the sale.
This comes after reports of the private buyers of the elephants making off with N$50 million after selling the elephants on the international market. Shifeta responded to criticism levelled at him what critics describe as the ‘cheap prices’ of the elephants.
Speaking to Desert Radio 95.3FM yesterday, Shifeta said the government decided to sell the elephants because of human-wildlife conflict in over 100 marked areas around the country, where the animals disrupt human activity and cause destruction to crops.
“The idea is not to get money, the idea is to get rid of the problem,” he said.
Shifeta said critics must understand that the focus of selling the elephants was to make life safer and more convenient for residents of areas where elephants are likely to live.
“Those who have not been in a community where elephants come all the time, they can talk as much as they want. They don’t understand that these people are suffering,” he said.
Shifeta also informed Desert Radio 95.3FM that there are still 113 elephants that have not been auctioned. He said that critics should ask themselves why this is the case.
“If people had money, why do we still have elephants that were not auctioned? If people have money, let them come. If you have your millions, come and experience,” he said.
The minister added that another concern is the proper maintenance and storage of the elephants. “We even said whoever wants these elephants in Namibia should come and get them. We do not have many facilities to keep these elephants. Every month it costs you N$30,000 to maintain one elephant, imagine 10,” Shifeta noted.
He said many people don’t want to purchase the elephants because they are ‘problematic’.
In total, the ministry plans to sell 170 elephants.
According to the ministry, a total of N$3,3 million was generated from the sale of 22 elephants exported to the United Arab Emirates recently.
The ministry was not only criticised for selling the elephants at cheap prices, but for not considering other alternatives to deal with human-elephant conflict.
President and co-founder of Global March for Elephants and Rhinos Rosemary Alles told The Namibian recently that the government should have considered speaking to communities about the issue, while taking the interests of humans and animals into account.