Addressing the leadership of all 86 of Namibia’s community conservancies, Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, raised some of the main issues that could drive the Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) Programme forward.

The main issues raised were: Benefits to communities; communal conservancies becoming financially sustainable; ethical and sustainable hunting; drought relief and managing human-wildlife conflict.

“Benefits to communities must be at the heart of this programme and we need to do everything in our collective powers to ensure that benefits to our communities are generated and directed to interventions that make a positive impact on the livelihoods of communities.”

This comes after a number of complaints from community members citing lack of benefits from tourism concessions and hunting activities at the expense of few individuals in such communities.

To address this issue, Shifeta issued a directive last year “that at least 50% of the total annual income from tourism concessions and hunting activities or any income generated by the conservancies or community tourism concessions must be allocated toward the implementation of community development projects.”

Some of the projects seen in conservancies include rural electrification, building of classrooms, supply learning materials to schools, payment of school fees, scholarships, transport for school-going children, drilling of boreholes to supply water to communities, and many more.

“Hunting or what we call conservation hunting is at the heart of the success of communal conservancies… if well managed and regulated, it provides livelihoods for communities, encourages the protection of wildlife populations and maintains the health and functioning of ecosystems.” 

However, “reckless and irresponsible” acts of hunting can be highly damaging and the reaction to evidence of such acts is often severe and damaging to the image of a country. “In the age of social media, these acts can be disseminated around the world at the touch of a button, resulting in negative impressions for the industry and our country,” he says.

The ministry has been developing a set of social media guidelines with the Namibian Professional Hunting Association (NAPHA). “Let us work together to ensure hunting plays the part it can in eradicating poverty and furthering conservation in this country,” concluded the minister.

Minister Shifeta also addressed the severe drought the country is currently facing and its effects on human-wildlife conflict. The ministry will be implementing a Drought Response Plan for National Parks and other conservation areas, and ensuring that the Revised National Policy on Human Wildlife Conflict Management of 2018 is also fully implemented.