Looking out for the ‘little five’ in the Namib

07 Jun 2015 10:10am
SWAKOPMUND, 07 JUN (NAMPA) – The conservation of life and the environment in the Namib Desert is crucial for sustainability and tourism.
People like conservationist Tommy Collard play a big role in such conservation.
Collard, a tour operator who works just outside Swakopmund in the Erongo Region, says there is a serious need to educate Namibians about the importance of nature conservation.
Speaking to members of the media during a nertworking excursion hosted by the Ohlthaver & List Group of Companies in the Namib Desert on Thursday, the animal lover said he has been in this line of work since 1997.
“I was born a nature fanatic and conservationist. When I was young my mother could not search my pockets because she was scared of coming across a venomous snake,” he said.
During the seven-hour tour of the dunes, Collard made it clear that educating Namibians about conservation is crucial.
“I take it upon myself every day to educate school children about nature conservation here. Through catching and tagging desert animals such as chameleons and snakes, I promote the love for animals in children,” he said.
Collard is a licensed nature conservationist with the right to arrest offenders in his jurisdiction and hand them over to the police.
Armed with an appointment card from the Namibian Police Force (NamPol) and a pair of handcuffs, the tour operator says his work gets tough during December holidays when everyone flocks to the coast and engage in activities such as quad biking and 4x4 drives.
These activities pose a danger to the animals Collard protects, including the “Little Five” - the Dancing White Lady Spider; the Palmato gecko also known as the web-footed gecko; the Sandfish skink known locally as the sand-diving lizard; the Namaqua chameleon and the Sidewinder snake.
There are also brown hyenas, jackals, rats and birds such as the Damara Tern in this area which need protection.
“People do not respect the rules of nature conservation, they do not drive on one track as required. They drive and walk anywhere, even in restricted areas, killing our precious animals and disturbing nature,” he said.
He further noted that although he works with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, more still needs to be done to arrest and punish offenders.
“Sometimes I see people breaking the law but I cannot arrest them because they’re on fast bikes and I work alone. The police do not always respond on time,” said the conservationist.
Despite these setbacks, Collard says he will continue to work on protecting nature as it is his life.