By ELLANIE SMIT

While international organizations and activists are calling for a total ban of all trophy hunting the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, said that would have a devastating impact on the Namibian economy.

“Banning trophy hunting will be the end of conservation in Namibia,” Shifeta said. Shifeta yesterday stressed the important role that trophy hunting plays not only for the economy of Namibia, but also for communities and conservancies.

With the recent shooting of Cecil the Zimbabwean lion by an American dentist, global outrage against trophy hunting flared up once again.

It has also resulted in American airline Delta Airlines to ban the transport of hunting trophies. Delta Airlines, which is said to be the main transporter of hunting trophies from South Africa to the US, announced that it would no longer transport lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo trophies.

In May, the world’s largest airline, Emirates, also banned hunting trophies. Shifeta yesterday said that would have serious impacts on the hunting industry of Namibia, as overseas hunters have to make use of South Africa to transport their hunting trophies back to their home countries.

He expressed the hope that Air Namibia would not follow suit, adding that it is a public airline and that Namibia’s law on nature conservation is clear to use its natural resources sustainably. “The campaign is very serious and it is significantly impacting the Namibian economy.” Shifeta also referred to the controversial black rhino hunt that was auctioned to Texas hunter Corey Knowlton, who killed an endangered black rhino in Namibia earlier this year – to raise funds for rhino conservation in the country. The rhino hunt was sold for $350 000. Shifeta said although this money had been paid to Namibia there is currently a lawsuit pending against the import of the trophy into the US and therefore the ministry cannot use these funds. Several animal-rights groups joined in the legal battle to fight the import of the black rhino hunt into the US and although Knowlton was allowed to take the trophy back it seems that the battle is still ongoing.

Shifeta said due to this international campaign against trophy hunting Namibia stands to lose millions which could have been used for conservation efforts.

“If people are campaigning against trophy hunting and it is banned it will have a serious [and] devastating [effect] for the country and communities that protect the wildlife. This money helps conservancies and conservation work in the country.

“If we stop giving people incentives from the money we get through this trophy hunts they will abandon conservation work, because what benefits are they getting from protecting the wildlife?”

The trophy-hunting industry is estimated to be worth approximately N$500 million per year. Trophy hunting in 2013 generated N$20 million just from conservancies in Namibia. This translated into N$6 million worth of meat from trophy hunting while another N$4 million worth of meat was derived from wildlife killed by conservancy members.