Conservancies employ a variety of different officials to manage their day-to-day operations. The most critical employee is the manager who is responsible for all running operations. In larger conservancies or those with many activities, there are other Officers that oversee different aspects of the conservancy (e.g. Field Officers oversee game guards, Enterprise Officers oversee conservancy livelihood projects).
Each conservancy has an elected Management Committee, which comprises a Chairperson, Vice- Chairperson, Treasurer, Vice-Treasurer, Secretary and Vice-Secretary, plus other committee members provided for in the constitution. Committee members offer their time and skills to their conservancies to provide oversight to ensure that the staff implement decisions made by conservancy members.
Conservancy officials and committee members from all over Namibia shared some of their thoughts about the work they do, why nature is important and their conservancies’ response to COVID-19. They further welcomed international visitors back to Namibia as soon as travel restrictions are lifted.
Below are some thoughts from conservancy field staff; access the full interviews, and additional interviews, here.
Smith Shikoto (Dzoti, Manager)
"I learn a lot by working with people from different backgrounds and different levels of expertise. I like managing conflict. This is not an easy task but it’s good when the job gets done."
Allan Silubanga (Sobbe, Manager)
"Being a manager for the conservancy is making a difference in my life because I can support my family and I enjoy my work. I am gaining experience and learning how to better manage and protect our natural resources."
Zita Mwanabwe (Balyerwa, Manager)
"Nature is very important to us because we directly and indirectly depend on it for a living. We get meat from wildlife and some income through tourism and employment."
Tania Fisch (Khob !Naub, Vice Treasurer)
"We are part of nature, it is important to us because it gives us the resources that takes care of us, and that is why we should also take good care of it. I love being in nature because it allows me to connect with my inner self. Whenever I feel alone and lost, I go out to reflect to help me focus on brighter things."
Fabian Libanda (Salambala, Acting Manager)
"Nature was created by God and we are custodians of the environment and have to look after it. Without nature there is no wildlife and beautiful trees. We depend on nature for everything. The area is well managed by community members who are well educated about conservation management and the benefits of conservation for future generations."
Isaac Sililo (Sikunga, Field Officer)
"The Conservation Relief, Recovery and Resilience Facility (CRRRF) is very helpful because even though we continued with our work, our salaries were cut, and the Facility funds will be used towards helping with the game guard and staff salaries. If COVID continues this way things will go down so my hope is that we find ways to work around pandemic."
Victoria Thirion (//Gamaseb, Secretary)
"The effect of COVID-19 is not that bad on nature, but it has a huge impact on my job. I am unable to arrange meetings and do activities for the conservancy to move forward. I have a very positive feeling towards the future despite what we are currently going through."