A VIDEO in which the Okonjima Reserve claims it may need to sell rhinos to trophy hunters due to the current financial difficulties has been condemned by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, which insists the plea is tantamount to emotional blackmail.
In the video, the reserve further claims that it is seeking to raise funds for rhino conservation.
If no donations are made, it said, a decision to sell the rhinos to trophy hunters would possibly be made.
“The ministry condemns this action by Okonjima Reserve. Furthermore, the video creates an impression that Namibia’s trophy hunting industry is not sustainable. It must be noted that trophy hunting is a wildlife management practice, which is done to enhance the protection of wildlife species rather than eliminating them,” the ministry’s spokesperson, Romeo Muyunda, said.
VIDEO: Okonjima on the verge of selling Rhinos to Trophy Hunters. Video by Okonjima
According to Muyunda, in terms of policies and laws, government will not permit an entire population of rhinos on a property to be hunted as it is against conservation principles.
Describing the video as reckless, Muyunda said it exposes the location of the endangered species to poachers.
Meanwhile, the Okonjima AfriCat Foundation Director Donna Hansen has apologised to the hunting fraternity for the misunderstanding that the video caused.
According to her, Okonjima has been a custodian of the rhinos for several years on behalf of its legal owner, who she says has now gotten permits for them to be hunted by trophy hunters.
“To prevent this, Okonjima negotiated with him that should we be able to match the price per rhino offered by the trophy hunters, he would be willing for us to rather buy them from him than have them hunted, as his source of income, hence the campaign to raise these funds. It was not our intention to link hunters and poachers and for this we apologise,” Hansen said.