New Conservancies Approved in Zambezi

The Ministry of Environment and Tourism has approved that the areas of Lusese and Nakabolelwa along the Zambezi and Chobe rivers be turned into conservancies, bringing to 81 the number of registered conservancies in the country.

The Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, revealed the plans on Thursday at the Conservancy Chairperson Forum.

Trophy hunting, lodge developments, game for shooting and sale, live game sales, game for own use and other game utilisation activities continue to be the main source of income for conservancies.

Shifeta said the ministry approved the two areas located in the Kabbe North and South constituencies of the Zambezi Region early this month and they are expected to be gazetted by early August. Currently there are 79 registered conservancies in the country.

Conservancies benefit thousands of rural communities through employment, cash income, social projects and in-kind benefits.

Speaking to New Era in a telephonic interview, the Zambezi Regional Governor Lawrence Sampofu welcomed the move, saying it would create much-needed jobs for the communities in the region.

“The ministry of environment is doing a commendable job. These conservancies will bring a lot of benefits. The communities will receive tourists coming to watch animals and they will pay and bring in money. Trophy hunters will pay huge amounts for each hunted animal. For example, it costs around N$120 000 to hunt an elephant,” he said.

Sampofu said hunting quotas would generate millions of dollars.

Shifeta said the conservancy programme makes a positive impact on the improvement of the livelihoods of rural communities.

He said since Namibia’s independence in 1990, conservancies have proven again and again to be important instruments for the government to meet its goals with respect to conservation and sustainable development.

“Conservancies are not meant to replace existing land use or livelihood activities in communal areas. They are meant to provide additional economic opportunities and local communities can decide the extent to which they integrate wildlife, forestry, tourism, fisheries, water and other natural resources into their livelihood activities provided they are guided by policy directives of the government,” Shifeta explained.

But of late there has been criticism of conservation practices and the utilisation of natural resources, in particular the hunting of elephants in some conservancies in the Kunene and Erongo regions.

Shifeta rubbished the claims saying the current status of elephants in the country is more than satisfactory. He added that their numbers already exceed what many would consider desirable for the available habitats.

“They have been identified as a possible threat to other rare and valuable species which Namibia is trying to conserve. There are no limiting factors preventing an increase in elephant numbers. The elephants in Kunene and Erongo regions are referred to as desert elephants because of their adaptation to desert conditions and as a tourist attraction. But they are the same species of elephants which occur elsewhere in the country and commonly known as African elephant,” he noted.

Source : New Era