Namibia threatens to exit CITES amid calls for ban on trophy hunting

Namibia has threatened to exit the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) if global states ban trophy hunting.

This comes as several African countries have expressed dissatisfaction with CITES, a multilateral treaty to protect endangered plants and animals from the threats of international trade, over its stance on ivory and trophy hunting.

"We have made our stand clear including other African countries that banning trophy hunting will have far reaching consequences on our people, wildlife and the country's economy. If though they [CITES] understand our plight and resolutely, if it remains to be influenced, we shall exit and be on our own. We shall trade among ourselves as Africans and those international countries that we are willing, therefore they should listen," Environment, Forestry and Tourism minister, Pohamba Shifeta said on Thursday, adding,” it will serve no purpose being affiliated to the body while its people and wildlife suffer.” 

He said banning imports and exports of trophy and ivory will be a catastrophe to the nation economically, food wise as well as impact conservation sustainability.

“When pushed we shall act to protect our interest. Ironically with these countries who are apparently caring, when we donate animals, they are quiet and very cooperative, but when we sell then comes a problem. That is why we have put conditions that those who are willing to buy our wildlife will have to sign an agreement that they are in support of us. We have the best conservation model which is acclaimed worldwide,” he said.

He added that the wildlife population has grown tremendously over the last century, but instead of being applauded some 'jealous countries are threatening to punish us for doing good."

"Should the countries I have mentioned ban import and export of hunting trophies, that will erode all the progress made in our country since independence, particularly if other more European countries follow suit. European hunters account for over half of the total hunting revenue to Namibia," he pleaded, further saying, without a suitable alternative that fully replaces the income, employment and protein provided by conservation hunting in Namibia, both people and wildlife will suffer.

"We therefore appeal to them not to opt for the route of any bans but rather continue to apply current controls based on internationally agreed rules. While we understand that trophy hunting might not always contribute to rural development and conservation in all countries as it does in Namibia, any ban on trophy import and export, whether selective or not, would effectively undermine the Namibian people and our successful conservation model.”

"The same countries that are writing letters to us requesting for our wild animals, are on the other hand advocating against us, that should certainly tell you that they are jealous of our resources. Instead, they want us to keep the animals for their pleasure to watch, while turning a blind eye on our problems, where domestic animals are killed including humans, destruction to crops and properties," stressed Shifeta.

"Our national parks are full, and animals are roaming everywhere now. However, when we practice trophy conservation (trophy hunting) we are seen as harvesting animals, but this is the only sustainable way to do it. By doing so, you generate an income for the conservancies in which people who live and look after these wild animals are, including providing employment."

The minister explained that there is no way trophy hunting can be construed as harvesting, "because this form of hunting removes just under 1% of the national wildlife population each year, against typical wildlife population growth of about 25 to 35% per year. In the case of slower breeding species such as elephants, typically breeding is at 3 to 5% per year, the offtake is far lower, at about 0.2%. High value hunting by clients from Europe and elsewhere is therefore an important contributor to the sustainable wildlife economy and to Namibia’s growing “rewilding” conservation programme."

Local communities generated 7.7 million Euros ( N$130 647 435) from trophy hunting, while private farmers made an income of 13.3 million Euros (N$225 663 751).

About 5000 people are directly employed at all 86 conservancies, and more than 6000 at private farms. 

8459 trophy hunters visited Namibia between 2019 and 2021, mainly from Germany, USA, Austria, Hungary, France, Sweden, Spain, Denmark, Russia, Australia, Czech Republic, South Africa, Romania and Switzerland.

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Last modified on Thursday, 11 August 2022 18:14

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