Niël Terblanché
Voortrekker, an iconic desert adapted elephant bull and also one of the oldest known elephant bulls in Namibia was killed earlier this week by a hunter after special permit to get rid of a problem animal was issued by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism a while ago.
Romeo Muyunda, spokesperson of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, confirmed that the animal was killed by a hunter who paid a mere N$120 000 dollars for the kill.
Muyunda said Voortrekker was declared as a problem animal after cattle farmers in the Ohungu Conservancy area near Omatjete reported that they were being threatened by elephants and that they suffered damage to fences and water tanks. According to one of the farmers the elephants allegedly also killed one cow.

“The hunt generated N$120 000 of which N$20 000 was diverted to the Game Product Trust Fund of the Ministry. The largest part of the money went to the community who was allegedly terrorised by the local community.”

Muyunda said that the Ministry was left with no other alternative but to issue the special hunting licence to put an end the human wildlife conflict that resulted in the damage suffered by the cattle farmers in the wildlife conservation area.

Pictures of the damage shows a the damage as nominal and that the N$100 000 would be enough to pay for the community’s suffering caused by elephants.
Muyunda added that another elephant, a cow died as a result of so-called capture stress during a collaring effort by officials from the MET.

The day before the iconic bull elephant was killed the management committees of other conservancies neighbouring the troubled Ohungu conservancy asked the MET Deputy Director of the North Western Regions, Christoph Munwela, for an urgent meeting to prevent the killing.

In the letter the Otjimboyo, Sorris Sorris and Tsiseb conservancies neighbouring the Ohungu Conservancy said that they would rather have the animal roam freely because it generates a sustainable income from visiting tourists and because Voortrekker is one of only three adult bulls left among the 120 desert adapted elephants. Of the three bulls only two are still capable of procreating. The neighbouring conservancies stated that no new calves were added to the herd of 26 animals in their area since 2014.
Muyunda said in his statement that it should be noted that the MET is not there for a popularity contest.

“We make decisions based on what is good for our conservation based on the existing principles, policies and legislation. It’s unfortunate that the elephant was put down but we were left with no other alternative after this specific animal continued to cause damages to property in the area.”

Muyunda did not say in his statement whether the concerns of the neighbouring conservancies were addressed before Voortrekker was killed by the hunter.