Namibia: Impressive Conservation Success Story

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Namibia: Impressive Conservation Success Story

New Era (Windhoek)
Kuvee Kangueehi
Windhoek

A concept by the government for local communities to benefit from their natural resources is starting to bear fruit.

Yesterday, the Kyaramacan Association handed N$1, 2 million to the Game Products Trust Fund (GPTF). The money was mainly sourced from trophy hunting, camp site fees and the sale of locally made crafts and is the 50% contribution of income generated from trophy hunting to the GPTF as required by law.

Deputy Prime Minister Dr Libertina Amathila, who handed over the cheque on behalf of the Kyaramacan Association, said she was delighted that the community from West Caprivi could give such a huge amount because initially she was very shocked by the poverty and rate of unemployment amongst the people living in the area.

Amathila said when she visited the area, she decided that something must be done for the impoverished communities to benefit from their natural resources in the Bwabwate National Park. She explained that in March 2006, with the intervention from her office and assistance from the Legal Assistance Centre, the Kyaramacan Association was formed .

"The aim was for the communities of West Caprivi to benefit from the natural resources that they have been managing for years in the Bwabwate National Park."

Amathila proudly announced that the Kyaramacan Association is made up of 4 800 members from different ethnic groups and its board is made up of eight men and two women who are representative of most of the ethnic groups living in West Caprivi.

"The association employs 26 community game guards at this time as well as 10 community resource monitors who are all women."

She however noted that the association's members still face problems such as human and wildlife conflict, poverty and hunger.

The deputy prime minister thanked the ministry of environment and tourism for awarding the association a hunting concession, which has been its main source of income.

"This will be the first time that the communities of West Caprivi benefit from the natural resources that they have been managing for years, and making a 50% contribution to the government."

The Minister of Environment and Tourism, Willem Konjore, who received the money on behalf of the GPTF said the Caprivi Game Park, which will be the future Bwabwate National Park, is unusual in the sense that it has about 6 000 residents within the park. He said the community game guards have worked with residents since 1992 to create awareness about wildlife and curb poaching, while community resource monitors have worked with women to protect and map natural resources.

Konjore also applauded the response of the residents and said it was overwhelmingly positive to the extent that efforts by his ministry and local NGOs and park residents have resulted in an increase in wildlife in the park and a wider distribution of species within the area.

"Regular game counts conducted since 1997 have shown that species such as elephant and sable antelope have increased significantly, along with giraffe, buffalo, leopard, lion, kudu and zebra."

The occasion was witnessed by representatives of the Integrated Rural Development & Nature Conservation, the Namibia Nature Foundation, the World Wildlife Foundation and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism who also assisted the members of the association.