Focusing on sustainable wildlife Management

Photo by Wiebke Schmidt

Focusing on sustainable wildlife Management

Community conservancies selected for new project in northern Namibia

28 June 2021 | Tourism

A new community conservancy project is being introduced in parts of northern Namibia, which form part of the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, focusing especially on achieving a balance between wildlife conservation and food security for the communities that depend on these resources.

By Steffi Balzar, Windhoek

The Sustainable Wildlife Management (SWM) programme launched the “Support to the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area for Sustainable Wildlife Management Project (ACT-KAZA)” in Windhoek in mid-May which aims to strengthen innovative, community-led efforts to reconcile the conservation of wild species with food security, while at the same time improving local livelihoods. According to the representative of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations in Namibia (FAO), Farayi Zimudzi, the SWM programme is already being implemented in 15 countries with the aim of providing sustainable wildlife management as well as improving food security for rural populations living in close contact with wildlife.

“The new component of the SWM programme is based on an innovative approach to support a network of community conservancies to improve ecological connectivity in Namibia and Botswana,“ says Zimudzi. The scope of activities, which are already being implemented in other SWM sites in Zambia and Zimbabwe, will therefore now be extended to the entire KAZA area (Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, KAZA TFCA). “By doing this, we want to contribute to the protection of transboundary wildlife corridors while promoting peaceful coexistence between people and wildlife in this region.” According to Zimudzi the preselected sites are located within important transboundary wildlife corridors in the KAZA landscape that support the free movement of wildlife populations between the five countries of Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Angola.

In Namibia the project involves 13 community-based organisations including twelve community conservancies in the Zambezi, Kavango East and Otjozondjupa regions, as well as the Kyaramacan Association in the Bwabwata National Park. These sites are located in areas under communal tenure in the Miombo ecoregion where semi-arid habitats, poor soils and high frequencies of human-wildlife conflict are common challenges limiting the development of the communitiy livelihoods. “Given the healthy wildlife populations, the need for local communities to draw benefits, incomes and protein from wildlife has therefore been identified as a high priority”, explains the SWM programme. This should be achieved by making use of an improved, participatory management of wildlife through the adoption of a Community-Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM) approach, a field in which Namibia has collected valuable experience already over the past years.

According to the WWF Namibia Country Director, Dr. Juliane Zeidler, the main objectives of the project are the improvement of the legal framework for the sustainable use of meat from wild species that are resilient to hunting and fishing as well as the improvement of the management of these species. The project also aims to improve and multiply the supply of alternative proteins for rural and urban populations and wants to make the consumption of game meat more sustainable. The Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, said during the launch, “We are really excited about the components of this project as it fits very well with the government's priorities for sustainable use of wildlife for the benefit of our local communities and to prevent and mitigate human-wildlife conflict.“ Community level conservation, founded on both the consumptive and non-consumptive use of wildlife is key to the future development of the KAZA TFCA, says the minister.

The project will be managed by the FAO in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism for the next four years, while implementation on the ground will be mainly undertaken by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). “The project will benefit over 212 000 people in Namibia alone,“ the FAO representative in Namibia explained. The project is funded by the French Development Agency (AFD) with co-funding from the European Union (EU) through the SWM programme.

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