Tuesday 18 May 2021
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Shifeta shares Namibia’s conservation success story

Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta says good conservation and wildlife management efforts are key when it comes to the sustainable use of natural resources.
He said this earlier this week in the United States of America while speaking at the US Fish and Wildlife Conservation Council Meeting on Sustainable Wildlife Management for the Benefit of People and Species where he shared some of the concepts and efforts on sustainable wildlife Management for the benefit of people and species adopted by Namibia.
Namibia is one of the few countries with an impressive network of Protected Areas (PAs) whereby the 20 state-run Protected Areas cover about 17 per cent of the country’s land surface.
“The country has recognized that the country’s protected areas are not truly representative of regional biodiversity with many indigenous and endemic species occurring outside of the protected area network.
To complement this shortfall, the country has put in place policies and a legislative framework for freehold farms, communal conservancies and community forests to acquire rights over wildlife, trees and non-timber products and tourism. To date, 44% of Namibia’s land area is under conservation management,” Shifeta told the gathering.
He said Namibia is committed to the sustainable use of wildlife resources, as is indeed provided for in our national constitution. “Sustainable use is the result of good conservation and good wildlife management, and it is our collective interest to ensure that we use this resource sustainably for livelihood security and biodiversity conservation.”
Namibia, said the minister, has made tremendous efforts and enjoys the benefit of  significant success stories in biodiversity conservation. “Our success conservation effort story and sustainable wildlife management comes from our programme for community based conservation of wildlife. Our Community Based Natural Resource Management Programme has helped us to set the scene for a conservation strategy in an independent Namibia.
Conservancies are now being established as local community based institutions for managing natural resources. Through legislation, communities that form conservancies gain management rights over wildlife and tourism. They are able to use these management rights to develop economic opportunities such as eco-tourism and conservation hunting,” he said.
Shifeta emphasized that conservancies are not areas for wildlife and tourism only, adding that they bring additional opportunities for rural people to manage wildlife and tourism alongside their normal activities of livestock management and crop growing.
“We have restored the link between conservation and rural development by enabling communal areas farmers to derive a direct income from the sustainable use of wildlife and tourism activities.”
To maintain sound conservation efforts, Shifeta underscored the need for an enabling policy and legal framework aimed at the restoration of rights over wildlife and natural resources as well as the use of the economic value of wildlife as an incentive for conservation.
Shifeta also noted that building on the enthusiasm amongst rural people and an inherently positive disposition towards wildlife as part of their natural heritage, and a strong sense of ownership of the wildlife resource.
He said there is a strong need for regulatory and monitoring framework for the use of wildlife resources, whether for own use, trade or conservation hunting.
Despite the success stories in nature conservation, Shifeta conceded that there are still many challenges and opportunities, this includes market access for Namibia’s wildlife producers.
“Human wildlife conflict is another. The Namibian Government recognizes that living with wildlife often caries a cost, with increased wildlife populations and expanded ranges into communal and freehold farming areas resulting in more frequent conflicts between people and wild animals, particularly elephants and predators in many areas. This has resulted in livestock and crop losses, damage to water installations and in some instances, loss of human lives,” Shifeta said regrettably.
He singled out illegal hunting of elephants and rhinos as one of the biggest challenges facing Namibia. “The protection of wildlife should essentially involve preventing crime. The focus should be on preventing animals being killed illegally and not just on following up after they have been killed.
Perhaps the most effective component of wildlife crime prevention is that of establishing and maintaining a law enforcement or security presence on the ground. For wildlife protection this requires dedicated, well trained and well equipped field staff. However, in the face of high valued products such as rhino horn and ivory, and the involvement of external criminal syndicates, this is seldom sufficient and additional components and more funds are required,” said a concerned Shifeta.
He said there is a need find ways to stop illegal activities “on our biodiversity”.

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