Communal conservancies vital for community development

16 Jan 2018 14:20pm
GOBABIS, 16 JAN (NAMPA) – Communal conservancies need to do more to attract the interest and trust of the communities they serve, a local tourism entrepreneur has said.
Namibia is one of a few countries in the world to specifically address habitat conservation and protection of natural resources in its constitution.
Government in 1996 therefore introduced legislation, giving communities the power to create their own conservancies to benefit from wildlife on communal land and to work with private companies to manage their own tourism markets.
Peter-Hain Kazapua, who owns and runs a tourist information centre and guesthouse in Gobabis, told Nampa on Tuesday many communities are yet to warm to the notion behind the creation of communal conservancies.
He said while this may be largely due to a lack of marketing and promotion of the work of conservancies, such structures are also to blame as they often do not give back to the community.
Kazapua, who was amongst those who spearheaded efforts to establish the Otjombinde Conservancy close to a decade ago, said the inactiveness of conservancies has often led to a culture of mistrust by their respective communities.
The Otjombinde Conservancy is the oldest conservancy in the Omaheke Region, and was formed to harmonise the relationship between villagers and wildlife in the area so as to ensure the sustainability of both species.
Kazapua noted that the often sour relationship between conservancies and livestock farmers within conservancy areas is owing to a lack of understanding on the practices and operation of such structures.
“Farmers often do not understand why it is important to preserve wildlife, especially if such wildlife encroach onto their economic wellbeing by preying on their livestock,” he noted.
He said for farmers, the economic benefits they derive from their farming activities far outweigh what they are expected to reap from having conservancies in their areas.
“Unfortunately, many of our farmers rely on subsistence farming for a living and it is therefore understandable that they would value a cow more than they would the presence of a leopard or lion in their midst,” he said.
The tourism entrepreneur urged farmers to approach those heading conservancies to learn more on how such structures can benefit them.
“Conservancies are supposed to serve the community through various means such as the donation of meat and by assisting communities to deal with troublesome predators,” said Kazapua.