While some nations are piloting new conversation projects and others are lagging behind, one country has become a success story in the way it has implemented its conservation strategy. Namibia is one of a handful of nations that has its conservation strategy as an integral part of its constitution.
Namibia has lead the way in conservation for decades – with its conservation culture tracing back to before it gained independence. For instance, Etosha National Park was one of the first of its kind to be proclaimed in Southern Africa. After independence, the new government introduced a wildlife guard system that put locals at the forefront of protecting the wildlife in their areas.
Inclusive conservation management
Because of this innovative and inclusive management of its wildlife and natural resources, 42% of Namibian land is currently under some form of conservation management. This is an increase from a mere 13% in 1990.
Conservancies fall under the Ministry of Environment and Tourism. Those with tourism potential are allowed to establish tourism enterprises through joint ventures with the private sector. Another source of income for them is trophy hunting, which is regulated by the same ministry. 82 conservancies are registered by the ministry and they cover 19.6% of the country.
Namibia has seen significant improvement in wildlife populations and, because of this, organisations from all over the world are coming to Namibia to learn more about what the country is doing right.
Thriving wildlife populations
Namibia’s has a thriving black rhino population despite the animal’s populations dwindling in some other countries. Organisations like the Cheetah Conservation Fund, the Namibian Dolphin Project, Save The Rhino Trust, the Desert Lion Project and the AfriCat Foundation all meet the Namibian government halfway in safeguarding Namibian wildlife.
One of the biggest challenges that animal conservation faces in Namibia is poaching. The Save the Rhino Trust came up with a solution to the poaching of the endangered black rhino by offering former poachers employment as guards and wildlife trackers. The trust operates on a revenue-sharing system with the local communities – giving locals a sustainable source of employment as opposed to poaching.
Community members end up running some conservancies so well that they do so without donor funding or government assistance.
So the true reason to Namibia’s success in conservation, is its people. It has become clear that the people who are best suited to protect and safeguard wildlife and natural resources are those indigenous to the area.