MINISTER of environment, forestry and tourism Pohamba Shifeta says the government is not obliged to compensate farmers who lose livestock or whose crop fields and property are damaged to due to human-wildlife conflict.
This is because the government does not have a policy to compensate farmers for wildlife-related losses, he told the National Assembly last week.
This leaves farmers in communal areas bordering national parks and conservancies vulnerable to unaccounted losses resulting from attacks by wild animals such as lions, cheetahs and elephants.
The ministry reported that about 1 350 livestock, including cattle, sheep, goats, donkeys and horses were killed by predators last year alone.
These incidents took place at various conservancies, communal lands and resettlement farms.
Shifeta acknowledged the need “to find other means to offset losses caused by wildlife and at the same time build self-reliance by farmers”.
He said the current method of compensating farmers, which has been previously implemented in some areas, was problematic and has been open to abuse.
It was also cumbersome in terms of administration, he said.
Shifeta was responding to questions by United Democratic Front parliamentarian Dudu Murorua, on what the government plans to do with the proceeds from the sale of elephants earmarked for auctioning.
The minister said it would be expensive to pursue a policy of direct compensation to individual farmers, because of the estimated cost of damage caused by wildlife across the country.
Despite the absence of a compensation policy, the ministry currently only assists farmers to offset losses from wildlife through the Human-Wildlife Conflict self-reliance scheme, which is “not a compensation policy”.
Under this scheme, which was reviewed in 2018, farmers who lose cattle to predators are paid N$3 000 per head of cattle.
For small stock farmers are paid N$500 and N$700 for the loss of goats and sheep, respectively.
The loss of other livestock such as horses, pigs and donkeys are compensated with financial contributions of N$800, N$700 and N$500 each.
These rates are especially low given the fact that the market price for cattle and goats has tremendously increased over the years.
Currently, cattle cost around N$9 000 per head on the market, while sheep and goats cost a minimum of N$1 200 each.
Mururoa said the compensation offered by the ministry leaves farmers unable to restock and sustain their livelihoods.
The current policy, which does not deal with direct compensation, also includes a scheme through which the government can pay families and individuals for human death or injuries sustained as a result of human-wildlife conflict.
Shifeta said for loss of human life, the ministry pays N$100 000 to the bereaved family to cover funeral and related expenses.
The ministry also covers the cost of treating injuries caused by wildlife.
Shifeta said the government, although not obliged to, still assists farmers, who suffer damages to property such as water infrastructure and fences, with the necessary relief in replacing and rehabilitating damaged infrastructure.
The ministry will also continue providing new infrastructure such as water tanks, constructing protection walls, drilling and equipping new boreholes, and providing grain-storage facilities to mitigate human-wildlife conflict, he said.
Shifeta said this is only possible depending on the availability of funds.