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His remarks follow yet another killing on Tuesday of an elephant at Musese Green Scheme Project, where a herd was reportedly causing damage to crops. The elephant is the third to be gunned down in two years at Musese, without roping in the environmental ministry officials who are mandated to manage human-wildlife conflict.
Last year two elephants were reportedly shot down by Pereira, the Musese lease-owner of the project. The farm is situated some 70 km east of Nkurenkuru in Kavango West.
Both subsistence and commercial farmers in both Kavango East and West have on several occasions complained that marauding elephants are impoverishing them, as the animals devour and destroy farmers’ fields on a daily basis.
“The investigations are ongoing to determine whether it is just a normal human-wildlife conflict, or whether the person concerned has really taken other measures. I’m told this is not the first time it’s happening,” Shifeta said.
He also noted that the entire irrigation project has not been issued with an environmental management clearance certificate from the ministry, which is in direct violation of the law.“I went into the issue deeper and found out this year that there is no environmental clearance certificate at all,” Shifeta said.
“If there was an environmental clearance certificate we could have helped them to draw up what we call an environmental management plan, where we could deal with the issue of elephants. They know very well that they are [located] in a habitat of elephants. It’s a migration [route] for elephants, so there is no way you can retaliate against the elephants.”
Further, Shifeta said the project’s management failed to submit relevant documentation to devise an environmental management plan and yet went ahead with the project. He warned people not to undermine the law when it comes to activities sanctioned and prihibited by the Environmental Act, especially activities which are listed and should not be undertaken without an environmental clearance certificate.
“People must be careful. This ministry will not tolerate any entity, person – whether it’s a natural person or a juristic person – to just carry out any activity listed in the law without a clearance certificate. We’re going to close down all those activities,” he said.
“We will close these projects – whether they are big economic projects or not – because they are not complying. We did not want to jeopardise their activities, but if we’re not enforcing the law I will be the one to blame at the end of the day.”
He said had the project management approached the ministry for guidance, they would have been advised to erect an elephant-proof fence on one side where the jumbos migrate past.