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‘Auctioning off 40 crocodiles a joke’

The Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism’s decision to auction off 40 crocodiles to the highest bidder in the Kavango West, Kavango East and Zambezi regions in a bid to curb human-wildlife conflict is a joke.

This is according to Rundu Rural constituency councillor Paulus Mbangu.
He says the crocodile population in Namibia’s north-eastern rivers is estimated to be 11 000.

‘’That’s a joke, because there would be no impact. The crocodile attacks would continue unabated. I prefer that the ministry auction off 6 000 crocodiles,” Mbangu says.

This comes after ministry spokesperson Romeo Muyunda last week announced that the ministry has approved the sale of 40 crocodiles to minimise incidents and reduce the impact of crocodile attacks on communities, particularly in the north-eastern regions.

“This is in line with the recommendation made at the recently concluded conference on human-wildlife conflict management, where the ministry was advised to reduce the number of crocodiles in the affected regions,’’ he said.

Mbangu, however, says the ministry should sell at least half of the crocodile population, because the high number of crocodiles is also depleting the fish resource in the river.

He says the ministry, in collaboration with the regional leadership, should sponsor crocodile ranches, where people can practise crocodile farming to generate an income and create employment for people living alongside the river.

Mukwe constituency councillor and chairperson of the Kavango East Regional Council Damian Maghambayi says he appreciates the ministry’s decision.

He says he is happy that the ministry has started taking action against conflict involving crocodiles.

“They have started with 40, and we are hoping that number would increase in the future,” he says.

The councillor says this is the only way human-wildlife conflict involving crocodiles can be addressed.

Interested buyers are required to submit written financial offers in sealed envelopes to the ministry by 16h30 on 17 July.

Muyunda said buyers intending to export crocodiles must provide official approval from the conservation authorities in the importing country.

The capture of the crocodiles will be supervised by the ministry and the cost will be carried by the buyer.

“All related activities, including disease testing and any necessary after-capture care, are at the expense of the buyers. Buyers must demonstrate that they have suitable habitats for crocodiles,’’ Muyunda said.

He said the ministry has suffered significant financial losses, paying over N$2,3 million since 2019 to compensate for losses caused by crocodile attacks.

NamWater chief executive officer Abraham Nehemia recently said the water utility will construct a water treatment plant to connect communities living alongside the river to drinking water as a way of preventing human-wildlife conflict.

“Although you can’t stop it completely, because some houses are 50 metre from the river and waterpoints are 500 metre away. It’s extreme.
“Residents can opt for the nearest water source or consider boiling water, for instance. But it would help mitigate the incidents,” he said.
Nehemia said the plant would involve connecting pipelines from Grootfontein to the Mururani gate, another pipeline towards Katwitwi in Kavango West region and a third along the road leading to Divundu in the Kavango East region.

To enable the full economic potential of crocodiles in Namibia, the Ministry of Environment Species Management Plan on the Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) released in 2014 recommends developing crocodile ranching based on wild egg harvest as per the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flore (Cites) guidelines.

This restricts sport hunting to 25 specimen, and encourages non-consumptive tourism, as well as research and development.