Namibia Wildlife Conservation
Namibia is a country in southern Africa which borders the Atlantic Ocean, just north of the nation of South Africa. The nation was a German Imperial protectorate from 1884 to the end of World War I, when the League of Nations gave South Africa the ruling authority. After a long struggle, Namibia achieved independence 1990. This is a typical story for many south African nations, but what sets Namibia apart is its outstanding wildlife conservation programs. Using a community-based system, it has maintained a healthy native ecosystem which has seen sharp increases in its key wildlife populations.
The nation's conservancies are run by ordinary people in the local communities. They record human-wildlife interactions, list rare or endangered species, and calculate their own annual budget. Currently, there are 64 community-based conservancies which cover about 17 percent of the land area. This is more land than is held in Namibia’s state-run parks.
The community run areas are not exactly parks, because people live there and raise their livestock. However, they set aside a portion of their land exclusively for wildlife. Their goal is to create value through hunting and tourism. The national Ministry of Environment and Tourism has recognized this value and even translocates endangered species to these conservancies for protection.
The reason this community-based system works so well in Namibia and not other African nations is because Namibia has only six people per square mile. Other large nations like South Africa which has 94 people per square mile and Kenya with 158 per square mile have more difficulty mixing human and wildlife populations. Having such a low population density, Namibia was able to transfer ownership of wildlife conservation to the people. This is similar to the US Fish and Wildlife Service the duty of gray wolf protection to Montana cattle ranchers.
Community ownership seems like a radical idea, but it went along with the nation's liberation movement in the 1990's. Now these conservancies make an overall $5.3 million and generated $40 million for the Namibian economy. This is serious money for a country where people live on a dollar a day. Trophy hunting is a big revenue generator followed by equipment rentals and wildlife tours.
Namibian communities know that there are incentives to protecting their wildlife. They take pride in watching over "their" animals. The radical idea of community-based ownership is now spoken about being implemented in other parts of the globe. For example, Nepal wants to use it to protect its rhinos and tigers, and Mongolia to protect its argali sheep.