An elephant was shot dead – allegedly for a local chief’s “braaivleis party” – in front of several tourists in the Bwabwata Park in the Caprivi Region last week, causing many of the shocked visitors to cut short their tours.
Andrew Momberg, a private tour guide who often takes clients to northern Namibia, told The Namibian that he had ever seen anything like it before.
He said he took a British tour group to a place called the “Horseshoe Bend” on the Cuando River on August 8.
It is a popular watering hole where tourists can watch elephants playing in the water.
“There must have been about 50 elephants.
“It’s always a highlight for the tourists to see them play gracefully in the water,” he said.
The next moment, two shots rang out and a fatally wounded elephant cow slumped to the ground in front of all the tourists.
“Everyone was shocked and perplexed at what they had just seen in front of their very eyes; and then people began shouting out of dismay,” according to Momberg.
He said officers of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism arrived shortly afterwards, explaining to the tourists that the elephant was a “problem animal” pestering local communities.
He said all the animals fled from the waterhole – and so did all the tourists, “who just wanted to go home”.
The next morning, Momberg and his clients decided to go back into the park for a game drive.
The elephant that had been shot the previous day was “lying on its buckled legs, tusks in the ground, and blood oozing from its trunk and mouth”.
“There were about ten people with two Ministry vehicles around the dead animal, busy chopping and cutting it up.
Our path was going right past the carcass, but the men asked us to make a small detour, which we could not because of very thick sand, so we were forced to drive through and over the blood and guts strewn over the path.
This is not a nice experience for any tourist,” Momberg said.
Coming back later the vehicle once again had to drive through it, he told The Namibian.
“These [foreigners] are sensitive to this sort of stuff,” he said.
“I felt sorry for them.”
Later that afternoon it came to light, according to Momberg, that a hippo also had been shot nearby the previous day, and for the same reason – a “braaivleis party” allegedly held by one of the local chiefs on August 10.
The Namibian contacted a source at one of the lodges in the area and he confirmed the incident, saying that Chief Josef Mayuni of the Mafwe tribe was celebrating his inauguration and the animals were shot as part of the annual hunting quota.
It is not known if the incident is linked to the discovery of hippo meat and an elephant foot in a Police bus at a checkpoint near Rundu on Sunday.
The Namibian was referred to the Deputy Director of Wildlife Management at the Ministry, Colgar Shikopo, for comment but he was in a meeting.