Resources are used sustainably

In rural areas people depend upon subsistence farming and natural resources. Conservancy management has facilitated large-scale wildlife recoveries and enables the protection of valuable species and intact wildlife habitats.

Charismatic African wildlife is one of Namibia’s greatest and internationally competitive resources. Healthy populations of wildlife (including the Big Five: elephant, rhino, buffalo, leopard and lion) create a tourism value that is not easily surpassed by other land uses. Other rare and valuable species such as cheetah, wild dog, roan and sable antelope further increase that value. The effective management of this immeasurable resource lies at the heart of community conservation.

Resources are used sustainably
A lion caught in a camera trap in Mashi Conservancy by WWF photographer Will Burrard-Lucas
Harvesting Commiphora wildii in Marienfluss Conservancy
Harvesting Commiphora wildii in Marienfluss Conservancy

Flourishing flora, including forest resources, is an extremely valuable asset for many rural communities. Woodlands in the north and north-east contain a variety of valuable trees such as kiaat and Zambezi teak with commercial timber value, while burkea and ushivi are used for construction. A growing range of veld products includes devil’s claw tubers, used as a homeopathic remedy and omumbiri (Commiphora wildii) resin utilised by the perfume industry.

Harvesting of plant products is regulated through a licensing system and user groups have formed to coordinate harvesting and marketing activities. International corporations are searching the globe for new biological ingredients for their products, an activity called bio-prospecting. While this is likely to open further opportunities within the plant sector, bio-prospecting needs to be carefully controlled.

Resources are used sustainably
Devil’s Claw, named after its sharp hooks. Below the ground is a tuber. Photo: Patrick Bentley
Resources are used sustainably

A wide variety of fish are found in Namibia’s northern rivers, including such sport-angling favourites as tigerfish, catfish and bream. Inland fisheries are an important food resource for communities. Fish productivity in rivers is being improved by creating community fish reserves that facilitate undisturbed breeding

The Event Book allows game guards with low literacy, but strong local knowledge of wildlife and the environment, to gather sophisticated data which is analysed and returned to communities through adaptive management.

The Event Book monitoring system

A review of 2018

Natural resource management at a glance

At the end of 2018 there were...

  • 86 conservancies using the Event Book monitoring tool (figures include 2 unregistered, emerging conservancies & the Kyaramacan Association)
  • 51 conservancies conducting an annual game count
  • 71 conservancies holding quota setting feedback meetings
  • 71 conservancies with own-use harvesting quotas
  • 56 conservancies with conservation hunting concessions
  • 70 conservancies with a game utilisation management plan
  • 50 conservancies with a zonation plan
  • 616 game guards and resource monitors working in conservancies

The biggest challenges were…

  • Drought continued to have a devastating impact on wildlife populations in north-west Namibia
  • Depressed wildlife numbers in the north-west resulted in reduced meat and financial benefits to conservancies
  • Reduced prey has caused predators to attack livestock – eroding support for conservation
  • Wildlife crime prevention is proving successful – but costly – and efforts to counter crime must be continuously upgraded
  • Land invasions by farmers seeking grazing are threatening the existence of areas reserved for wildlife
  • Many conservancies are not fully compliant with MET regulations

The severe and on-going drought continued to have a devastating impact on wildlife populations in north-west Namibia, with mortalities and almost no successful breeding taking place. The depressed wildlife population numbers in the north-west have resulted in wildlife offtake quotas remaining low or at zero, which has in turn reduced meat and financial benefits to conservancies. In addition, the depressed wildlife numbers have caused predators to seek alternative prey, therefore driving up livestock losses. The reduced benefits and increased human-wildlife conflict (HWC) has eroded community (and some political) support for a wildlife-based economy, which is a major concern. It is essential that more support effort be put into mitigating HWC. However, diminished funding to CBNRM support organisations is making it extremely difficult to respond to this challenge in a systematic and sustainable manner.

Severe and on-going drought
The Combatting Wildlife Crime Project has 13 partners and is funded by USAID
The Combatting Wildlife Crime Project has 13 partners and is funded by USAID

As criminal syndicates have penetrated into Namibia from other African countries, wildlife crime remains a significant challenge. On the positive side, rhino poaching in the north-west communal areas has been stopped through community support and increased anti-poaching effort by all partners including law enforcement, NGOs and communities. In north-east Namibia, however, elephant poaching continues. Whilst this is still below the level that would affect the sustainability of the population, it nevertheless remains a challenge. The Combatting Wildlife Crime Project partners have responded to wildlife crime across the country and inroads are starting to be made, but the project partners will need to respond quickly to the ever changing dynamics that are characteristic of international crime.

Land invasions and customary land-right registration in areas zoned for wildlife are threatening those areas and the wildlife found there. Unless this is mitigated, it will negatively impact the benefits from both the sustainable use of wildlife as well as tourism, which will have the potential to undermine wildlife as a land-use option.

Natural resource management standards as set out in MET’s new Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) is a challenge with a number of conservancies now no longer being fully compliant. Bringing these conservancies up to standard will require significant effort from an already overstretched and under-funded CBNRM support team. As an example: of the 70 conservancies that have game utilisation management plans, the new SOP’s indicate that 64 are out of date and 6 are more than five years old, a situation that the MET is working to address.

This page was last updated on: 9th December 2019