No easy answers to tackling human-wildlife conflict (Namibia)


Aron Mushaukwa, New Era

Date Published

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Katima Mulilo-Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism Tommy Nambahu has given assurances that the environment ministry (MET) is working towards finding ways to resolve the human-wildlife conflict that has affected communities located near some of the wildlife parks.

Recently months have seen an increase in human-wildlife conflicts attributed to the loss of habitat by wild animals, but Nambahu is certain a concrete solution will soon be found. “We are going to come up with strategies on how to resolve the human-wildlife conflict. Currently it is not there, but we are working on it,” he said.

He was speaking at the official opening of the Northeast Conservancy Regional Chairperson Forum in Zambezi Region, which brought together representatives from various conservancies from the two Kavango regions and Zambezi, who together constitute the Northeast Conservancy Forum.

Nambahu stressed that human-wildlife conflict remains a daunting challenge that the MET is faced with. He added that addressing it “requires striking a balance between conservation priorities and the needs of people living with wildlife”.

“As conservancies you need to have mechanisms in place to reduce the level of human-wildlife conflict to ensure that benefits of conservation management far outweigh the costs and to build on the significant successes in managing human-wildlife conflict,” Nambahu advised.

He also addressed the issue of poaching, incidents of which continue to rise at an alarming level. Nambahu said this needs to be brought to a “complete stop” and that conservancies have a bigger role to play in the fight against poaching of elephant, rhino and other game animals.

“You are on the ground and you can, therefore, see what is happening and possibly prevent that. It is the responsibility of all of us to fight wildlife crime, as long as that is done in a coordinated manner through the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and in accordance with policies and legislation of the country,” he said.

He further emphasised that conservancies are not meant to replace existing land use or livelihood activities in communal areas, as perceived by some, but have been set up to provide additional economic opportunities to the local communities.

This is evident from the fact that during the previous financial year about N$2.7 million was spent on cash benefits for conservancies from the northeastern regions, while about N$557,000 went to traditional authorities in the same region.

“We should continue to develop our conservancies as a suitable conservation and tourism development programme, from which our rural communities can derive equitable social and economic benefits,” Nambahu stressed.

The forum, which will conclude today, provides an annual platform aimed at providing an opportunity to conservancies and stakeholders to reflect and deliberate on issues pertaining to the management of communal conservancies in the country. Currently there are about 82 conservancies countrywide.