The recent announcement by the Minister of Environment and Tourism that he would take action to ban the posting of photos of hunted trophy animals on social media,
has been put on hold until the industry has been fully consulted on the proposed guidelines for ethical marketing practices for the hunting community.
The Namibia Professional Hunting Association (NAPHA) announced on Wednesday that the proposal for a ban made by the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, has been put on hold after “a very constructive and positive meeting with the minister and his office”.
Speaking at the launch of the revised national policy on human-wildlife conflict management last week, Shifeta, reacting to negative international commentary over social media photos taken of a hunter posing with a dead giraffe shot in South Africa, said that such photos on social media tend to incite uninformed hostile emotions over hunting and misrepresent hunting in Namibia.
“Hunting is permitted by the Namibian Constitution. However, it is morally not correct to post such pictures. People can take those pictures for private use only, but not to post on social media,” the minister said.
Shifeta said his ministry is considering ways to amend the Nature Conservation Ordinance 4 of 1975 to find legal ways to prohibit and punish individuals who post photos of people posing with dead wild animals on social media.
His statement caused an uproar on social media and in other parts of the Namibian community with people arguing that any such ‘ban’ is blatantly unconstitutional, would have ripple effects on advertising in the hunting industry, and attack online freedom of expression.
NAPHA said in a statement that, Wednesday’s meeting was also attended by other stakeholders including NACSO (Namibian Association of Community Based CBNRM Support Organisations), NNF (Namibia Nature Foundation) and WRN (Wildlife Ranching Namibia).
“All stakeholders have agreed to work together and expand on these suggestions. We have also provided the minister with a draft pamphlet with guidelines for social media advertising and posts. We suggested that this pamphlet be distributed at the airport, Air Namibia, NTB, MET and NAPHA offices, and would also accompany all hunting permits issued,” NAPHA said.
Another meeting has been scheduled for Heja Lodge on 27 July 2018, where role players in the hunting industry are expected to make contributions on the way forward.
It was agreed that NAPHA will take the lead in this and will advise the public about the final outcome.
“We hope that everyone involved in hunting will act as ambassadors for our lovely country and abide by the final consensus decision,” NAPHA said.
NAPHA Chief Executive Officer, Tanja Dahl, had earlier told the Windhoek Observer that the association supports the minister’s intention to find a way to stop hunters from posting on social media, pictures of their clients or themselves posing with dead trophy animals. The impact on global impressions about regulated professional hunting in Namibia, can be negatively affected when such photos go viral.
“We support the minister’s vision but there are some few things that needs clarity,” she said.
In an earlier statement, NAPHA said there are many hunters and outfitters that adhere to responsible marketing, however, a number of individuals still do not comply with the sensible use of photos of trophies hunted, even though ample warnings have been communicated.
Before the meeting on Wednesday, Shifeta told the Windhoek Observer that those complaining about the social media photo ban are bored and have nothing to do with their lives.
“Those who are complaining don’t even understand what they are talking about and they have never hunted,” he said.
“This practice has been done in other countries and its working perfectly well. Those who feel that their marketing strategies will be affected are wrong because marketing is not banned; not everything is banned.”