By Felix Njini
Namibia won’t withdraw permits granted to hunt desert elephants, a group of the pachyderms that live in the country’s arid northwest, despite protests, the country’s Environment and Tourism minister said.
While decision to allow the hunting of nine elephants, most of them classified as so-called desert elephants, has sparked a Facebook campaign, ‘Stop All Hunting of Rare Desert Elephants,’ the minister said the money raised will be used to aid community conservation efforts.
“There is no withdrawal of the permits we gave for elephant hunting,” Uahekua Herunga, the minister said in an Aug. 12 interview from Windhoek, the capital. “We are applying the the country’s constitutional provisions, which entails that natural resources of the country are managed sustainably.”
The elephants, which live in the Kunene region, are one of only two groups adapted to desert existence with the other being in Mali. They numbered about 750 in 2012, according to the WWF, an environmental group. Most African elephants live in the Savannah regions of southern and eastern Africa while a subspecies lives in the rain forests of west and central Africa.
The elephants, one of which has already been shot, are mostly old animals, he said.
“We fail to understand the opposition to this, the elephants are better protected if communities are benefiting,” he said.