THE owners of Erindi Private Game Reserve are positive that the Ministry of Environment and Tourism will permit it to import 200 elephants from South Africa in the next two weeks.
According to the game reserve’s owner, Gert Joubert, he can see no further reason for the ministry to deny an application to import 200 elephants from the overpopulated elephant herds of a South African game reserve in order to boost elephant numbers at Erindi.
“I cannot think of one thing they could use as an excuse,” he said on Friday. Permanent Secretary Dr Kalumbi Shangula said yesterday that the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) will not appeal the court’s decision. He said that the Environment Minister will “look at the application and consider it on merit” within the next three weeks.
Joubert’s comments come a week after the High Court in Windhoek ruled as null and void the ban on the importation of various species of wildlife, which Environment Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah had imposed in April 2009.
The ban came shortly after Joubert had requested to import the elephants to his 65 000-hectare private game reserve, situated between Okahandja and Otjiwarongo.
Joubert said the original application is still at the ministry, and that he is waiting to get the ball rolling as soon as the permit is approved. The court ordered that the minister had to make a decision on the application for a permit within three weeks of the judgement.
Joubert said the ministry’s original decision to deny the import or sale of 200 elephants was a “tragedy and pathetic”. He said Erindi has invested millions to boost tourism in the country through the game reserve and has provided jobs to more than 200 people.
He said the ministry is doing “everything in its power” to make it difficult for private entities such as Erindi to invest in the country. He said the ministry is “neglecting the private sector”.
Joubert said as soon as the permit is approved, he would engage with South Africa again who have agreed to hand over the elephants “for free”.
He said the South African game reserves are “falling over their feet to offer us the elephants for free to support our conservation of animals on Erindi”.
Joubert claimed that by selling elephants from the national herd, the ministry has a chance to “get rid of the overpopulation without it costing a cent”, as Joubert was willing to finance the translocation.
“It’s illogical and I cannot understand it. It’s a national asset which is becoming a national burden.”