The hunter who was named as the contact person in an advertisement for a trophy hunt on two elephants in the Omitara and Hochfeld areas has denied he was the author of the ad or linked to its existence in any way.
In response to the ad, several Namibians expressed their concern yesterday that a trophy hunt is being advertised although no permits have been issued for this particular hunt and neither have the two elephants in question been declared as problem animals.
The two elephants have been roaming around the Hochfeld and Omitara areas for several weeks, and have generally received a warm welcome by those in the area. Several farmers have shared snaps of the surprising visitors with the media.
Yesterday, an MET spokesperson said so far the elephants have caused only "minimal damage". The spokesperson furthermore said that hunting permits would not be issued at the moment.
Jofie Lamprecht, the professional hunter, who was named as the contact person in the advertisement for the trophy hunt, yesterday denied that he was scouting around for buyers for the permits or that he was involved in the alleged ad. He said he had no knowledge of the advertisement nor could he explain why his name was linked to it.
"There are no permits. They have not been declared as problem animals. There are people interested in hunting those animals, but nothing can be done before a permit is issued," he said.
Lamprecht told The Namibian that while there is discussions in the local hunting community around the fact that these elephants could possibly "at some stage be hunted", no one would put the permit wheels in motion until after the animals were declared as a problem animal.
As to why his name was attached to the advertisement, Lamprecht said he had no idea. "I sent no such email. I really don't know". He said it might be because he is a well-known big game hunter, and the unidentified author knew that should the elephants be declared as problem animals, he could facilitate such a hunt.
The Namibia Professional Hunters Association (Napha) in a statement requested "members to try to avoid shooting these elephants".
Napha stated that while they hope the animals make their way back "peacefully to their last stretches of intact habitat in the north-east", wild elephants could pose a danger to humans and should be kept at a respectful distance at all times.
One of the Hochfeld farmers said that many farmers in the area were shocked and concerned when reports of the advertisement began circulating.
"We are in a farming area and we would like to have all these wild animals back in the area. And why shoot an animal who is clearly so gentle and not doing any harm. Why should it be shot?" the woman asked.
She added that while she would understand that measures would have to be taken if they caused severe damage, the farmers hoped that the MET would instead transport the animals back to a safer area instead of proclaiming them as problem animals.
As to the reports that already many hunters are oiling their guns in anticipation of a possible trophy hunt on the two elephants, she said, "It's all about money. I think these people just want to make more and more money. They are not concerned about our environment and animals".
The ministry has continually said that the elephants were causing only minor damage, not enough to warrant them being declared as problem animals.
Colgar Sikopo, head of the Directorate of Regional Services and Parks Management at MET, told the media yesterday that he was not aware of any hunting permits having been released. Sikopo said the elephants must be monitored closely with the hope that they return to the northeast, where their interaction with humans is limited. The second option, according to Sikopo, is to capture the elephants.
If those two options do not work, only then would the ministry declare them as problem animals and have them hunted.