THE fragmentation of range and rising incidences of human-elephant conflict are challenges that are not unique to Namibia and exist within all member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
The President of Namibia and Chairperson of the SADC, Dr. Hage Geingob undertook a one-day working visit to the Republic of Botswana where he participated in the Kasane Elephant Summit. The Summit took place at a critical time for the African Elephant of which the largest populations are to be found in Southern Africa and was convened under the theme “Towards a Common Vision for the Management of Southern Africa’s Elephant”, and aims to: Raise awareness on the current status of the African Elephant in the Southern African region, the exchange of ideas on human-elephant conflict, illegal and legal trade, a possible agreement on concrete interventions to address the challenges posed to Namibia, Botswana, Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe, countries constituting the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA-TFCA), hosting 75% of the global elephant population, to join forces and develop common positions within the framework of the Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species (CITES), which has banned international trade in ivory.
President Geingob said during his address at the summit that delegates that he welcomes the developed Elephant Management and Planning Framework which will assist Partner States to manage their elephants as one contiguous population through a harmonized approach.
“To that end, Namibia supports the realization of a shared approach towards elephant conservation via the KAZA Agreement, thereby, remaining committed towards a common vision for the management of Southern Africa’s elephants.”
Dr. Geingob attended the summit on the invitation of the President of the Republic of Botswana, Dr. Mokgweetsi E.K Masisi and delivered a speech to delegates.
The full speech reads as follows:
I commend our host, My Brother, President Masisi, for convening this Elephant Summit, with objective of creating a common understanding and shared vision towards the sustainable management of our elephants. I also thank all Heads of State and Government for their presence here today.
Conservation in Namibia has attained major successes. In fact, conservancies manage approximately 19.8% of the total Namibian surface area. By joining large contiguous areas and thereby allowing wildlife to roam freely, environmental restoration has been achieved and healthy wildlife populations sustained.
Namibia’s conservation model has enabled expansion of the elephant population from just over 7,500 in 1995 to 24,000 at present. The biggest potential threat to the Namibian elephant population is the loss of habitat due to cyclical periods of drought. Another problem area is fragmentation of range and rising incidences of human-elephant conflict. We are aware that these challenges are not unique to Namibia and exist within all member states. We therefore welcome the developed Elephant Management and Planning Framework, which will assist Partner States to manage their elephants as one contiguous population through a harmonized approach.
Conservation generates much required economic returns for rural communities. By the end of
2017, community conservation contributed an estimated 7 billion Namibian Dollars to net national income, facilitating job growth within local communities. With this in mind, Namibia affirms the call for communities to be actively involved in the protection and conservation of environment and biodiversity. We further underscore that programmes to promote conservation of biodiversity must positively impact the standard of living of rural communities.
Concerning the trade in elephant specimens,
Namibia has fully complied with requirements from the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and contributed to the development of a rigorous trade control system. As a result, Namibia successfully exported raw ivory between 1999 and 2008, proving that with adequate controls and strict enforcement measures, ivory can be traded legally.
To that end, Namibia has taken note of the ongoing debate and criticism on elephant population management and status for the Republic of Botswana and affirms our support to the new policies and programmes on elephant population management and sustainable use, which have been developed by us all, as KAZA Partner States.
Namibia continues to exercise strict control over ivory stocks, however, stocks continue to accumulate, by an average of 4.5 percent per annum, primarily through natural mortalities. We express concern over the cost and security implications of holding large ivory stocks and reiterate our favourable stance towards legal international trade of ivory, from which proceeds would be utilized to support elephant conservation and rural conservation programmes.
I am further pleased to report that Namibia has nearly completed the projects under Phase I and
II of the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area Agreement (KAZA TFCA) and encourage ratification of the Treaty by all five Partner States. I further use this opportunity to call for renewed commitment to resourcing the
KAZA Fund, so as to enable the full and timely implementation of our shared objectives.
President Ramaphosa concluded the just ended Africa Travel Indaba with the words “Tourism is the new gold”. This is an accurate statement that captures the tremendous potential presented by this sector, which remains largely untapped and brimming with possibilities for accelerated socio7 economic growth and development in our Subregion.
The conservation and sustainable management of our natural resources remain key markets in rekindling economic growth and job creation.
I am on record, having stated that the free movement of people must be facilitated, especially to enable Africans who are travelling within Africa. I therefore reiterate the call for the easing of movement of people across our borders and affirm Namibia’s commitment to implementing the KAZA UNIVISA, which has been successfully piloted in Zambia and Zimbabwe since 2014.
I wish to conclude by stating that the Namibian elephant population is secure. The population recovery over the past several years attests to our management efforts. Changing times call for appropriate management strategies to be developed in order to maintain the historic coexistence between our people and elephants.
To that end, Namibia supports the realization of a shared approach towards elephant conservation via the KAZA Agreement, thereby, remaining committed towards a common vision for the management of Southern Africa’s elephants.