Own-use harvesting of wildlife for meat is vital in reinforcing the importance of wildlife management as a central part of rural life, and is an important in-kind benefit. Apart from its nutritional value, game meat distribution strengthens local support for wildlife and conservancies, assisting people to see the link between wildlife and conservation in the form of a tangible benefit (meat) that is equitably shared, unlike game that is poached and effectively stolen from the community.
Conservation hunting includes harvesting and trophy hunting, and provides employment as well as considerable income to conservancies, needed to finance conservation activities such as anti-poaching patrols.
Live capture operations to sell wildlife to other conservancies or private landowners have been possible due to the past rapid growth in wildlife numbers. In addition to generating income, the translocation of surplus wildlife into areas with low populations assisted wildlife populations on Namibia’s communal land to recover.
‘Shoot-and-sell’, is when game is sold to butcheries or other commercial outlets. However, this brings much lower returns than conservation hunting and live capture, and conservancies have halted this practice due to the drought and subsequent declines in wildlife numbers.
All forms of offtake are managed by quotas, set by the MEFT.
From hunting to tourism
It is important to note that most conservancies (including three of the first four that were registered) would not have been viable without wildlife use through hunting. Tourism operations take several years to set up and become profitable. Once conservancies become financially sustainable, a move to a mix of hunting and tourism may be possible.