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“These include prevention strategies which endeavour to avoid the conflict occurring in the first place and take action towards addressing its roots causes, protection strategies that are implemented when the conflict is certain to happen or has already occurred, as well as mitigation strategies that attempt to reduce the level of impact and lessen the problem.”
This is according to the Zambezi Wildlife Corridor Strategy report recently released by the environment ministry.
Wildlife corridors are linkages of wildlife habitat with generally native vegetation, which join two or more larger areas of similar wildlife habitat.
These corridors are critical for the maintenance of ecological processes allowing for the movement of animals and the continuation of viable populations, providing landscape connections between larger areas of habitat, enabling migration and interbreeding of plants and animals.
They play an extremely important role in the maintenance of biodiversity, but they can only partly compensate for the overall habitat loss caused by the fragmentation of the natural landscape.
The report says that the location of the Zambezi Region, with protected areas both inside and around the region, means that there will inevitably be wildlife moving through the region.
It says that the Zambezi Region supports the highest densities of elephant, buffalo and economically important antelope species in Namibia.
The maintenance of wildlife corridors allows the animals to move undisturbed between protected areas and areas that are more densely populated and where there are crop fields.
This helps to reduce human-wildlife conflict.
Education Is Vital
According to the report the nature of corridor issues requires a holistic approach at conservancy level, addressing governance, benefits, human-wildlife conflict, and appropriate cropping and range management methods.
The report says to maintain and manage wildlife corridors efficiently and effectively, there is a need to conduct awareness and educate the communities, farmers and the general public on the existence of such wildlife corridors.
It is also necessary to provide information on species movement routes in order to help the public understand how best to avoid encroachment and human-wildlife conflict.
It adds that a forum for traditional authorities on the maintenance and management of wildlife corridors could be established.
Furthermore, all wildlife corridors should be marked and sign boards provided at boundaries and other parts of the corridors.
“Sign boards should give more information to local communities and travellers and the distance to the wildlife corridor should be set, and describe which activities are permissible in the corridor.”
This would help to raise awareness of the people who are already living close to the corridor.