Namibia to auction off elephants, giraffes in response to crippling drought

Namibia will sell some of its game as the country grapples with severe drought.

PRETORIA, South Africa -- Drought-stricken Namibia will auction off at least 1,000 animals from its national parks -- including elephants and giraffes -- to mitigate the lack of grazing land as the country faces its deadliest drought in years.

The auction is being advertised in local newspapers and the intended buyers are game farmers who have the facilities to maintain the animals which include 600 disease-free buffaloes, 150 Springbok, 65 oryx, 60 giraffes, 35 Eland, 28 elephants 20 Impala and 16 kudus - all from national parks.

The Namibian government declared a national disaster last month, while the country’s meteorological services estimate that some parts of the country faced the deadliest drought in as many as 90 years.

In April, an agriculture ministry report said 63,700 animals died in 2018 because of deteriorating grazing conditions brought on by dry weather.

"Given that this year is a drought year, the ministry would like to sell various type of game species from various protected areas to protect grazing and at the same time to also generate much-needed funding for parks and wildlife management," environment ministry spokesman Romeo Muyunda told the French news service AFP.

"The grazing condition in most of our parks is extremely poor and if we do not reduce the number of animals, this will lead to loss of animals due to starvation," Muyunda said.

The Namibia Professional Hunting Association (NAPHA) has welcomed the move, saying it is the most responsible and sustainable approach during very difficult times.

“Trying times call for appropriate management practices to assure that core breeding herds stand a chance of survival; sustainable management includes reducing herd size," NAPHA CEO Tanja Dahl told ABC News. "Our Ministry of Wildlife and Tourism (MET) as custodian of parks and wildlife, intends selling selected animals to gather income and reduce the pressure on habitat for the remaining wildlife.”

It’s estimated that the sale of the animals would raise $1.1 million, that would go towards a state-owned Game Products Trust Fund for wildlife conservation and parks management.

"Our thinking needs to evolve around best practices based on drought conditions and this would also include looking at the viability of livestock as opposed to game management," Dahl said. "Protection of habitat should be the main concern, as nothing can thrive without appropriate habitat.”

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