Noah’s Ark II is name for the Namibian government’s plan to donate 148 wild animals to Cuba. This promise was made by Namibia to the Cuban president, Raul Castro, during his visit to the country in 2009.
According to a report from the Mail and Guardian, The NSPCA (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) was disgusted to hear that the plan is to capture lion, leopard, cheetah and rhino (to name a few) and fly them off to the Carribbean island where they’ll form part of Cuba’s National Zoological Park.
The park is situated on the outskirts of Havana and covers only 342 hectares of land. This area already holds 850 animals in captivity.
A recent report in The Namibian states that “the Namibian and Cuban governments have agreed on the translocation of 146 wild animals, valued at N$7,5 million, as a donation to Cuba. The first consignment of the 23 species, including the ‘big five’, will leave for Cuba early in October, while the last animals will be flown to Cuba next year.”
The article further stated that “a group of Cuban scientists are currently in Namibia and will stay for the next two weeks to observe the capturing of the animals together with their Namibian counterparts”.
The animals will be captured in the Waterberg Plateau Park and then kept in temporary holding enclosures until the bomas are completed in Cuba. Namibia’s Environment and Tourism Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah said that “this exercise is being done in accordance with the CITES requirements and we have to ensure that all animals are suitable to stay in Cuba.”
The director of the National Zoological Park in Cuba, Miguel Luis Abud Soto, had the following to say: “Our government has set aside some millions for this project and the park underwent construction, remodelling and maintenance work and the animals will be kept under quarantine before moving to their final destination where they will be able to move around semi-freely.”
The full list of animals that will be donated to Cuba includes roan antelope, common impala, greater kudu, Cape eland, white and black rhino, gemsbok, springbok, hartebeest, elephant, buffalo, spotted hyaena, brown hyaena, lion, porcupine, leopard, black-backed jackal, cheetah, caracal, honey badger, bat-eared fox, ostrich and white-backed vulture.
Where will the funding come from?
“The Namibian taxpayers are footing the bill for the capturing and transportation of the animals to Cuba and we will only know the exact expenditure once the project has been completed,” Nandi-Ndaitwah told the media.
The Ministry budgeted N$25 million for the 2011/2012 financial year for the translocation of these animals, while funds were also made available for the project for this year.
Animal rights protests
According to the Mail and Guardian, the NSPCA has shown great concern regarding the transportation and capturing of the animals. The organisation questioned whether the conditions in Cuba will be satisfactory and are worried that the long flight will cause too much stress for the animals.
“It is saddening to note that these animals will be taken out of their natural habitat and sent to a strange land where they will be deprived of freedom and be totally dependent on humans for their daily needs,” said the NSPCA.
They stated further: “Considering the inhumane culling of seals taking place [off] Namibia at the moment and the worldwide outcry, this latest action by the Namibian government and its ministry of environment and tourism raises serious concerns regarding this country’s stance on animal welfare. Perhaps something for animal lovers to consider when considering Namibia as a holiday destination.”
A report in The Namibian from October 2011 stated that some regard this donation as political payback to Cuba for their assistance to Namibia’s liberation movement, Swapo, during the struggle years.