The Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta, last week addressed the European Union (EU) Parliament on Namibia’s wildlife conservation and the benefits that conservancies have created for communities.
Shifeta delivered the presentation to the EU Parliament in Brussels, Belgium and said Namibia conducts the largest annual road game count in the world which is validated periodically by aerial counts.
“We devised an Event Book monitoring system which is used in our conservancies and parks and has been copied in several countries in Africa and Asia.”
According to him, remarkable wildlife recoveries have occurred across Namibia in communal areas, on freehold land and in State protected areas.
A total of 10 023 head of game has been moved to conservancies since 1999.
Shifeta said this includes rare and valuable species such as Sable antelope, giraffe, and black rhinos.
“From near extinction in the 1960s, Namibia now has the largest free-range population of black rhinos in the world.”
Shifeta added that Namibia also has the largest cheetah population in the world, while the elephant population has more than doubled from 7 500 in 1995 to over 20 000 in 2014.
According to Shifeta, Namibia has an increasing free-roaming lion population outside the national parks.
Shifeta further said Namibia has established a legal framework that empowers communities and creates incentives for sustainable development and co-existence with wildlife through the Community Based Natural Resource Management Programme (CBNRM).
Shifeta told the delegates that Namibia’s CBNRM Programme has three pillars which are Natural Resource Management; Institutional Development and Governance and Business, Enterprises and Livelihoods.
He added that conservancies can create many and widespread benefits for communities.
This includes job creation and currently Namibia’s conservancies employ 1 544 fulltime people and another 6 000 on part-time employment contracts. Shifeta said conservancies can also improve local schools and clinics in the surrounding areas as well as rural water supplies.
Furthermore, through the creation of conservancies the provision of transport for the injured or ill can be established while it can also bring support to home gardens, improve nutrition for communities and mitigate human and wildlife conflict.
Shifeta said through the establishment of conservancies, there are also improved natural resource management and the opportunity to have a voice for rural people.According to the minister, joint-venture tourism is making the biggest contribution among communities in Namibia and currently the country has 40 joint-ventures in place.
“We have protected Namibia’s entire coastline and created the largest national park in Africa. This story makes me a proud Namibian, and I urge all of us to jealously guard against those that want to jeopardise our efforts in conserving the precious wildlife of this country,” said Shifeta.