Since gaining independence from South Africa in 1990, Namibians have put their minds, their backs and, most importantly, their hearts into conservation. Since entrenching environmental protection into the constitution, conservation has become the business of the people. This system of involving the public, by means of conservancies, tourism, and even hunting, has been an outstanding success, and has been well-documented and much lauded.
This great romance with conservation has had many triumphs, especially in the areas of rhino and elephant conservation. After facing almost certain extinction in 1980, rhino numbers in Namibia have increased to become the highest worldwide. Wild cheetahs are also more numerous in Namibia than anywhere else, and lion, leopard, giraffe and elephant populations continue to grow. The smaller, less well-known species, such as reptiles, birds, insects and plants are also thriving in this seemingly barren country.
Forty six percent of Namibia’s land area is devoted to conservation, and it is all benefiting local communities in some way. One in five rural people are resident in the Namibian conservancies and even more are involved directly and indirectly in the money-spinning tourism sector which is so closely related to conservation in Namibia. With very little in the way of natural resources, the Namibian people put the rest of Africa to shame.
However, ‘times they are a changing’ and conservation policies and efforts are having to up their game in the face of increasing poaching, global warming and economic recession.
One of the latest tactics is the practice of conservation agriculture. By means of judicious education, subsistence farmers are ‘farming with the future in mind’, by practising sustainable methods of growing their crops by maintaining soil condition and conserving water. The initiative has shown some remarkably positive results.
In the reserves, remote-controlled drones have been pressed into service to monitor and track wildlife as well as observe and count wildlife species, greatly reducing the manpower and time required for these vital functions.
Namibia’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) continues to increase their efforts in conjunction with the Namibian Defence Force (NDF), the Judiciary, NamPol, Namibia’s intelligence service, and local inhabitants to keep one step ahead of poachers, and will prosecute offenders to the full extent of the law.
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