“We are capturing young animals so we can choose which ones to dart and catch,” veterinarian Mark Jago was quoted as saying by local media.
The translocation scheme, dubbed ‘Noah’s Ark II’, was signed with Cuba last week and will see 23 species, including endangered black and white rhinos, cheetahs, leopards and lions, flown to Cuba starting October.
The animals will be taken to the national zoological park in Cuba, starting in October.
Animal rights groups in neighbouring South Africa are angry.
“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 National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Namibia’s government last week defended the deal.
“These animals are a donation to Cuba and the Namibian taxpayers are footing the bill,” Namibia’s Environment and Tourism Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah told reporters at the signing ceremony with Cuba’s zoological park director Miguel Luis Abud Soto last week.
She said the project was in line with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
According to the ministry, the total value of the wild animals is 7.5 million Namibia dollars ($900,000, 740,000 euros).
Namibia budgeted some 25 million Namibia dollars ($2.3 million, 2.5 million euros) for the capture and transport of the first consignment of animals to Cuba by air.