Durban - Dogged by allegations of bribery and unethical operators, a dodgy permit system, and the contentious hunting of so-called “problem animals”, Namibia’s hunting community has now been forced into silence by its own government.

The country’s ministry of environment and tourism has released a memorandum that prohibits the posting of hunted dead animals on social media.

The memorandum calls the practice of taking pictures of hunters posing with trophies, not of hunting itself, “unethical”, raising concerns as to what exactly the Namibian government is trying to hide.

“To deprive a hunter of bragging rights will simply turn him elsewhere,” said Izak Smit of Desert Lions Human Relations Aid. “Instead, the ministry should ensure proper regulation and control of hunting and cleanse the industry of unethical operators that target high-value iconic rare species such as desert elephants and lions.”

Despite the Namibian Professional Hunting Association (Napha) publicly supporting the policy and calling on members to do the same, the requirement has not gone down well with parties on either side.

Professional hunters have defended their right to market hunts on social media, saying that the statement bows down to anti-hunters, while others say that this just allows the ministry to conduct a barbaric slaughter of lions and wildlife in secrecy. According to Napha, “Namibia cannot afford any opposition to hunting.”

The memorandum specifically prohibits hunters with valid permits from posting or sending photographs on public platforms by making this a permit condition, but for now this memorandum appears unenforceable.

“We believe this is the right thing to do and we’re optimistic that hunters and safaris will adhere to this moral issue in the absence of a legal backing. We’re counting on everyone’s goodwill,” said the ministry.

It tried to pass a similar motion in 2017 which would enforce permit conditions that prohibited all marketing of trophy hunting on the internet. However, this was shot down by Napha as they said that “advertising is critical for such businesses”.

The recent killing of the lion Gretzky caused a social media call to boycott Namibia as a tourism destination.

The Mercury