Conservancy Members Are Caretakers, Not Dependants

17 Dec 2014 16:00pm
By Pearl Coetzee
KAMANJAB, 17 DEC (NAMPA) – While the conservancy movement has achieved local success and international recognition, many Namibians are of the opinion that communities abuse the power of the community conservation programme.
Conservancy members are in actual fact the caretakers of the country’s natural resources and deserve to benefit from such reserves, the chairperson of the ≠Khoadi-//Hôas Conservancy, Asser Ndjitezeua feels.
He said during a media trip to the Kunene Region last week that it is not true that conservancies abuse the programme, or only depend on hand-outs.
“It has been too long that communities are denied the rights and privileges to benefit from Namibia’s own resources.
It does not come on a silver platter in exchange for these benefits - people are working hard to manage these natural resources. They are doing a great job, and they deserve to benefit,” he noted.
Namibia has 82 registered conservancies, with 20 more to be registered with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) during 2015.
During the year 2013, conservancy members pocketed about N.dollars 20 million from trophy-hunting alone. Conservancies generated about N.dollars 72.2 million in returns for local communities.
About 6 472 jobs were also created during the same year.
Wildlife is central to generating returns for conservancies, as well as trophy-hunting and tourism.
Ndjitezeua said resources can only be used sustainably if effective management structures exist to guide their use.
He suggested that further integration of the management of natural resources can also continue to strengthen community conservation, while additional natural resources’ returns can be unlocked through innovative approaches and effective marketing.
However, human-wildlife-conflict (HWC) is a problem in the ≠Khoadi-//Hôas area.
Martha Shikongo, a conservancy member who has lived on Farm Estorff since 1997, said livestock losses to predators causes them sleepless nights.
This 70-year-old grandmother lives with only her grandchildren on that farm which, with seven other farms, form part of the ≠Khoadi-//Hôas Conservancy.
Estorff is located between Kamanjab and Khorixas.
Last week, she lost a goat to either a hyena, cheetah or jackal.
“Life is tough here. Predators are a problem in the area – they kill our lambs and goats, as well as our cattle,” she lamented.
To make matters worse, elephants destroy her crop fields, and she has thus not planted any fruit or vegetables for many years.
She is also afraid that the farm will become a desert soon.
Ndjitezeua, however, said no HWC cases were reported in the conservancy during this year.
An Ecologist Scientist at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Greg Stuart-Hill said here that rural people were given responsibilities and rights over natural resources.
“By forming legally-recognised community conservation organisations such as conservancies, people in communal areas can now actively manage and generate benefits from natural resources in their area.
This includes wildlife recoveries and environmental restoration,” he added.
The ≠Khoadi-//Hôas Conservancy was established in 1998.
Others launched in that same year are the Nyae Nyae Conservancy in the Otjozondjupa Region; Salambala Conservancy (Zambezi); and Torra Conservancy (Kunene).
The 2013 State of Community Conservation in Namibia report issued by the Namibia Association of Community-Based Natural Resources’ Management (CBNRM) Support Organisations (NACSO) stated that since 1990, the conservancy programme has had an economic internal rate of return of 23 per cent, and earned an economic net to the value of N.dollars 669 million.
There are great differences in the potential of conservancies to generate cash income, influenced by location, diversity and abundance of resources as well as other factors.