Members of Parliament from the Namibian Conservation Parliamentary Caucus (NACOPAC), with The ICCF Group and NACSO, convened wildlife management stakeholders in Windhoek on November 10th, 2016 to discuss Namibia’s wildlife conservation and governance strategies. The workshop produced a set of Action Items for the NACOPAC, with support from ICCF and NACSO, to collaborate with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) and other key stakeholders on strengthening wildlife governance in both national policy reviews and implementation of regional programs.
The workshop focused on Namibia’s Community–based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) and conservancies programs, as well as combating the growing threat of poaching and wildlife trafficking. MET and representatives from several community conservancies reviewed the benefits and challenges of Namibia’s wildlife management and tourism programs. MET officials also discussed the current review of wildlife policies and legislation, and opportunities for stakeholder input in those processes.
Namibia first instituted the CBNRM program in 1996, and has seen tremendous success in not only restoring wildlife populations, but also allowing communities to benefit economically from wildlife tourism. Ms. Josephine Lipinge, Chief Control Warden for MET coordinating CBNRM activities, says specifically that elephant and rhino populations have increased in communal areas, and that jobs and income benefits from wildlife utilization and tourism activities have been generated for communities.
Both consumptive (trophy hunting) and non-consumptive (photographic) tourism generate significant income for community-managed conservancies in Namibia. Ms. Lipinge noted, however, that without trophy hunting the economies of 70% of Namibia’s conservancies would suffer. In the Zambezi region conservancies, trophy hunting alone generates about $6.5 million. According to John Mwilima of the Bamunu conservancy, this income has helped to feed and employ community members within the conservancy. In the Uibasen conservancy, tourism contributes to about 85% of community jobs. Nearly half of that revenue goes directly back into the community while another 15 percent is put into savings for the community, says Joglinde Touros, a representative of the conservancy.
Despite income from tourism, these communities face significant challenges. Poaching, human-wildlife conflict, drought, and financial management challenges still pose significant hurdles for a number of conservancies. In Zambezi, Mwilima says, there have been 1,154 instances of livestock loss and 8,485 incidents of crop damage due to wildlife since 2010. Mr. Touros’ Kunene region has suffered from drought, which exacerbates tensions between wildlife and livestock as they compete for scarce water resources. Communities are required under the 2009 National Policy on Human-Wildlife Conflict to develop plans designating areas for settlement and farming activities. Touros complains, however, that although farmers are edged closer to wildlife protected areas due to drought, the Namibian policy does not allow them to be compensated for wildlife-related livestock loss.
Namibia’s National Parks and Wildlife Director, Colgar Sikopo, noted that the Ministry is currently developing a new Human-Wildlife Conflict Policy, and reviewing key legislation, including the 2008 Wildlife Product and Trade Act. Namibian authorities are considering revisions to better implement requirements of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and more effectively penalize wildlife poachers and traffickers to deter organized illegal wildlife trade.