Elephant - Human Conflict
Namibia's desert-dwelling elephants are of high conservation priority, both nationally and internationally. They are one of only 2 populations of elephants in Africa (the other one is in Mali) living in a desert environment. Additionally, they are one of Namibia’s major tourist attractions, generating millions of dollars in revenue
But they face the same problems other elephant populations around the world face with human - elephant conflict, decreasing space to live due to increasing numbers of humans and their livestock settling in their formerly vast range areas, thus more competition for scarce food and water resources. Plus their numbers are increasing as well.
Although elephants used to roam throughout most of western Namibia, they were reduced to fewer than 300 animals by the early 1990s from rampant over-hunting. Since then, protected under Namibia's law and merging conservation organizations, they have expanded their range from the north, where they were safer living among the nomadic Himba people, as far south as the Erongo Region, as well as east onto
On both communal and commercial farms, the elephants may damage the water installations, pulling out pipes, toppling windmills or breaking engines and pumps out of curiosity and mischievousness or due to lack of water. A herd of 10 or more elephants can easily empty a concrete or zinc reservoir of water meant for livestock and family needs. Sometimes they forage in gardens, leaving families without food, or they break fences and scatter cattle, sheep and goats, sometimes injuring or killing one. Damage can also be caused to homesteads.
On occasion, an elephant has killed a person. So even though the rest of the world loves Namibia's elephants, many of the people living with them see them through different eyes. Such actions lead to complaints to the government to remove the elephants, or to shoot those causing problems. Namibia's Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) responds as best they can, investigating complaints, often chasing elephants out of the area, and trying to mitigate the situation.
Raphael, a bull from the Huab who was shot in September 2009 as a 'problem animal'.
Sometimes MET officials declare an elephant as a "problem animal", and issue a hunting permit, which is its death certificate. A hunter pays for the privilege of shooting the elephant, the people receive money to help offset the cost of damages caused by the elephant, as well as its meat. This currently is one of the few ways people benefit from living with elephants in their vicinity.