Significant differences exist between conservancies. There are vast differences in size (the biggest conservancies are more than 200 times as large as the smallest), as well as in the number of residents (ranging from several hundred to more than 30,000). Topography, rainfall and natural habitat, proximity to urban centres, land-use activities and other factors all influence the quantity and quality of natural resources available in a given area.
There are also large differences in the degrees of conservancy development, based on when a conservancy was registered, the level of commitment of the people involved, the availability of transport, electricity and water infrastructure, and the amount of technical support available.
As the number of conservancies has grown, their development potential has also been taken into consideration. The first four conservancies, and most that followed shortly afterwards, had considerable potential for conservation hunting, which yielded immediate income. In scenic areas with growing wildlife populations, tourism joint-ventures began to develop, bringing benefits to rival and even overtake hunting. However, many newer conservancies do not offer a strong wildlife base or scenic attractions, nor have they had time to develop strong management capacity.
Private sector involvement varies significantly from one area to the next, influenced by location, accessibility and tourism or conservation hunting potential. All of these factors result in great differences in the potential to generate cash income and in-kind benefits.
Returns have been rising since 1998, when the first conservancies were formed. However, in the last few years, and particularly in 2016 and 2017, Namibia experienced a surge in tourism. While tourism has provided the greatest cash income to households, consumptive wildlife use, especially conservation hunting, has returned more cash directly to conservancies and provided more in-kind benefits, due to the increased value of game meat.
The table breaks down cash payments to conservancies, cash payments to their residents, and the monetised value of in-kind benefits. It also illustrates trends in benefits generation. More conservancies are generating no income because of reduced opportunities for conservation hunting. However, more conservancies have generated income and benefits over N$500,000 because of the growth in tourism.
|Year||Total cash income to conservancies (N$)||Total cash income to conservancy residents (N$)||Total in-kind benefits to conservancy residents (N$)||Total returns (cash income and in-kind benefits) to conservancy residents (N$)||Number of conservancies (includes Kyaramacan Association)||Number of conservancies generating cash income or in-kind benefits||Average total returns per conservancy generating cash income or in-kind benefits|
Not all conservancies generate cash income, either because they have not yet developed sufficient income generation capacity, or they have little potential to generate income from hunting or tourism. However, their conservation value to Namibia may be significant, providing protected wildlife habitat that very often is spatially linked to other conservancies or conservation landscapes. The provision of management and technical support to these conservancies is an important consideration for the future.