THE donation of 146 wild animals valued at N$7 million to the Cuban government could cost the Namibian government an estimated N$100 million by the time the translocation of the last game to the Caribbean Island is finalised by end of this year.
At the same time, Namibia’s income-generating wildlife environment has been dealt a double blow with a request that cabinet cancel the biggest biannual wildlife catalogue auction scheduled for this year. Quarantine facilities will only be available by June this year, when the last process for the remaining animals donated to Cuba will start. Also cited is the finalisation of new regulations under the Animal Health Act of 2011 by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry before the next auction in 2014.
The ministry budgeted N$25 million for the 2011/2012 financial year for the translocation of antelopes (roan, impala, kudu, eland, gemsbok, springbok and hartebeest), jackals (black-backed and bat-eared fox), white and black rhinos, elephant, buffalo, lion, ostrich, spotted and brown hyenas, porcupine, leopard, cheetah, caracal, honey badger and white-backed vulture. The donated wildlife species to Cuba, valued at more than N$7 million dollars, has already cost the government about N$50 million.
The remaining animals to be translocated (5 elephants, 5 black rhinos and 5 white rhinos) has resulted in the unavailability of quarantine facilities, forcing the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) to cancel the 2012/2013 auctioning of excess rare and high-value wildlife species from national parks and forfeiting an income of an estimated N$40 million from the auction.
In contradiction, the first translocation of 123 animals to Cuba is said to have depleted most of the N$84 million, effectively crippling the internal wildlife translocation budget, which is part of the Natural Resource Management.
The Animal Health Act prohibits the keeping of buffaloes south of the veterinary cordon fence, except at the Waterberg Plateau Park, to protect the export of beef to the European Union. In future auctions, buffaloes will only be sold exclusively for export, but the decision was challenged by a farmer who wanted to keep the beasts on his farm south of the Red Line.
“The cost of managing natural resources and maintaining infrastructure within protected areas remains extremely high, and current budget allocations are insufficient. It is therefore necessary to ensure that maximum benefits are derived from wildlife, which is a productive renewable resource,” said environment minister Uahekua Herunga.
Since the government has denied that the donation of wild animals to Cuba was to pay back for the island’s military role in Namibia’s liberation struggle, it has so far not publicly announced the reasons for the donation