KAZA project will tackle human-wildlife conflict

17 May 2021 | Environment

ELLANIE SMIT



WINDHOEK

Tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta says the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) is a hotspot area for human-wildlife conflict in Namibia.

According to him, of the 1 486 incidents of human-wildlife conflict reported to the ministry in the 2020/21 financial year, 585 (or 39.4%) came from the Kavango East, Kavango West and Zambezi regions.

He made these remarks at the launch of the Support to the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area for Sustainable Wildlife Management (ACT- KaZa) project.

Namibia is one of 15 pilot countries included in the Sustainable Wildlife Management programme.

Covering nearly 520 000 square kilometres, the KAZA TFCA is the largest transfrontier conservation area in the world. It comprises more than 20 national parks, 85 forest reserves, 22 conservancies, 11 sanctuaries, 103 wildlife management areas and 11 game management areas.

Prevention and mitigation

Shifeta said the ministry is doing all it can to prevent and mitigate the damage caused by the challenge of human-wildlife conflict.

“We are, therefore, pleased with the corridor element of this project. It is indeed quite unique and innovative, as it seeks to use communal conservancies as strategic building blocks to identify and manage key wildlife corridors so wildlife can freely move between these conservancies, protected areas and our neighbouring countries.”

He said this regional dimension is in line with the KAZA vision, and the project will provide an excellent opportunity to pilot such critical corridor work at multiple scales.

He added that community-level conservation, founded on both the consumptive and non-consumptive use of wildlife, is key to the future development of the KAZA TFCA.

According to him, Zambezi is home to some of Namibia’s oldest communal conservancies and almost a quarter of Namibia’s 86 communal conservancies are found in or adjacent to the KAZA TFCA.

“Managing the existing wildlife in these areas at sustainable levels and for the improvement of food security and livelihood opportunities of the local populations is a key element of this project.”

Sustainably harvested game

The minister said the ministry is particularly pleased by the growing recognition of the importance and value of sustainably harvested game meat, which is evident in this project.

“Game meat has always been symbolically important for traditional festivals and it is relished as a household source of protein.”

He said given the changing climates across the region and the need for improved self-reliance that has been highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic, there is a strong rationale for Namibia to produce more game meat and to add more value to this resource in the future.

According to him, the resultant income and employment benefits will increase the financial viability of communal conservancies and facilitate further investments in communal conservancies.

“The ministry is committed to continue to support communal conservancies to enter into partnerships relating to tourism and hunting products, as this will make wildlife management as a land use more viable and desirable with local communities.”

He further said it is vital that good governance and sound financial management become strengthened in conservancies.

Conservancy managers and ministry staff are already working together to ensure key intervention measures for good governance are implemented. These include that all conservancies must hold annual general meetings according to constitutions and that all conservancies must ensure that conservancy committees are elected according to terms of office and implement conservancy activities accordingly.

Financial management must also be monitored in conservancies and all conservancies should produce financial reports and implement benefit distribution plans and game utilisation plans.

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