Namibia: Legal Vacuum Escalates Illegal Hunting

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    Namibia: Legal Vacuum Escalates Illegal Hunting
    Clemencia Jacobs

    The increase in illegal and unethical hunting has become a serious threat to Namibia's trophy hunting sector, says Marina Lamprecht, of the Namibian Professional Hunters Association (NAPHA).

    "The situation is made worse by the lack of law enforcement to effectively punish those who hunt unethically and/or illegally. Namibian trophy hunters are frustrated that we have now waited over 12 years for the Wildlife Bill - as such, we are operating in a legal vacuum which lacks definitions and preventative measures to discourage canned leopard hunting," she said.

    Lamprecht urged the Ministry of Environment and Tourism to put effective measures in place to ensure that trophy hunting is carried out according to the law.

    "Let us join forces against foreigners, mostly South Africans, operating illegally in our country by posing as Namibian professional hunters or trophy hunting operators, as well as our own country men who break our hunting laws, by adopting an attitude of zero tolerance towards those who hunt unethically. They threaten the future of our industry and more importantly, make a mockery of our well regulated trophy hunting legislation which, if applied effectively, has the potential to be our greatest conservation success," she stressed.

    According to Lamprecht, foreigners who offer illegal hunts have no long term interest in the international status of Namibia as a trophy hunting destination.

    "These people hunt here, bribe locals to sign their permits, and yet they are not registered in Namibia, do not have work permits and do not pay taxes. Those of us [who are] closely involved in the industry have some of the names and details [of the culprits]- one culprit admits to have been doing it for the past 18 years and like so many others, continues to treat the system with contempt and make a mockery of the Namibian trophy hunting industry and all we stand for."

    Other threats to the country's trophy hunting sector include the global economic conditions as well as the gradual decrease in the number of sport hunters in much of Europe and the US.

    "While Namibia has developed its own programmes, policies and legislation to try to sustain high-quality trophy hunting, we rely on organisations within the nations from which we draw our clients to create their own programmes to sustain hunters as an ecological force," Lamprecht said.

    In 2007, the trophy hunting industry contributed 2.3% to GDP through generating revenues of N$316 million. This figure does not include secondary goods and services such as airfares, accommodation and meals and game park fees.

    However, revenue generated from trophy hunting has decreased significantly since then; decreasing by 7.7% in 2008 and by 40% in 2009, according to statistics provided by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.
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    Despite the existing challenges, Namibia has become one of the most popular trophy hunting destinations in southern Africa.

    "This is due in part to its political stability and diversity, a well-developed infrastructure, the ease with which hunting rifles may be temporarily imported into the country, and the friendliness and warm hospitality of the people. The key component, however, is Namibia's land-use and game-management policies, which have created great and healthy populations of game. It is also important to note that Namibian hunting professionals are recognised as among the best-trained in the world," Lamprecht said.

    He concluded by urging the environment ministry to take strong action against foreign operators who offer illegal hunts and to take the licenses of Namibian hunters who break the law.


    Source: Namibia Economist
     

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