Namibia’s Environment and Tourism Minister Pohamba Shifeta has kicked off a social media storm when he accused conservationists against hunting, i.e. consumptive wildlife use, as accomplices of poachers.
He reportedly made the statement during a workshop on wildlife crime held last week in the capital Windhoek, where he had to admit his government’s failure to do more to stem the poaching tide in Namibia.
Namibia’s and other Southern African countries’ proposals to allow wildlife trade in blood ivory were shot down in flames at the recent CITES GOP18 meeting in Geneva, turning several of the delegations into an almost angry mob, some of them even threatening to quit CITES – which would however not help them trade their ivory stocks due to global prohibition.
Other officials at the workshop showed greater restraint, calling poaching what it is, an economic crime, but the Minister clearly overshot his boundaries when equating conservationists against hunting as accomplices to poachers.
He apparently also continued to talk about Namibia’s possible withdrawal from CITES, clearly not understanding that such an act, while putting the country into the global shame corner, would not accomplish their goal to sell ivory or otherwise trade in wildlife products or wildlife listed on the protected appendixes of the convention.