Hunting versus photographic safaris
Hunting in Namibia’s national parks
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(eTN) - There was a report in the media that the Namibia Minister of Environment wants to award hunting concessions in national parks. The parks are Bwabwata National Park, Waterberg Plateau, Daan Viljoen, Von Bach Resort, and Namib-Nauklauft Park. Hunting concessions are also being given in the Kavango region.
Hunting safaris and photographic safaris are two totally separate operations and cannot be mixed. Someone on a photographic safari does not want to bump into a hunter who is bent on killing an elephant caught by the photographer’s lens. Hearing gun shots in the distance is not a comforting feeling for someone hiking through the bush. Also, animals need to know when they are safe. In Zambia we have game management areas (for hunting) next to national parks. The animals know that they are generally safe in the national park. You can watch them cross a road just to move from game management areas into the park when they see a vehicle approaching!
Bwabwata National Park is a multi-use park where people live as well as the animals. It is a large park, and hunting concessions can be in places where photographic safaris do not take place. Hunting has been going on there for some years already. Waterberg Plateau is just over 400 km² (about the same size as Kasanka in Zambia). It is a smallish park with stunning scenery where black and white rhino were introduced along with other animals for their protection. It is to the east of Otjiwarongo.
Daan Viljoen Game Reserve is about 25 km north of Windhoek and is popular for hiking. Again it is a smallish park of around 400 km². The camp has recently been renovated and welcomes visitors in chalets and camping. Von Bach Recreation Resort is a mere 43 km² and attracts visitors for water sports and angling. Namib-Naukluft Park is an enormous park – mostly desert. It is just under 50,000 km² and home to black rhino, gemsbok, Hartmann’s zebra, giraffe, springbok, brown hyena, and leopard. This is where the diamonds and uranium are.
Mangetti National Park was a bit of a research nightmare, because it wasn’t listed on many tourist websites. It is about 400 km² and was proclaimed a park in 2008. It used to be a breeding camp for endangered animals like rhino. From reports on the web, it seems that it is not open to the public as yet. According to the report on hunting concessions in The Namibian: The species to be hunted include elephant, leopard, roan, spotted hyaena, blue wildebeest, duiker, steenbok, buffalo, hippopotamus, crocodile, sable, lechwe, eland, giraffe, Hartman zebra, kudu, impala, eland, warthog, oryx, and klipspringer.
According to the ministry, trophy hunting removes mostly old, post-reproductive animals or single males, which are usually in excess in natural populations. Controlled hunting is thus viewed as sustainable use of wildlife populations.