New Horizon for Communal Conservancies

Nine previously disaantaged Namibians are being trained on how to become hunting operators and gain from this highly lucrative business.

Hunting operator outfits in game-endowed communal conservancies across Namibia are mainly the preserve of white Namibians.

But this is set to change after WWF, Namibia Professional Hunting Association (NAPHA) and the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) requested the Eagle Rock Hunting Academy owned by celebrated Namibian professional hunter, Volker Grellmann, to train communal conservancy trophy hunters.

The five-day course at Eagle Rock on the periphery of Windhoek conducted by Grellmann started last Thursday and it is expected to conclude today.

Eagle Rock has provided professional training of trophy hunters for the past 40 years and 284 indigenous Namibians have benefited from its courses since 2001.

The nine course participants, among them three women, are from the communal conservancies of Seisfontein, Puros, Tsiseb and Torra in the northwest region of Kunene.

Grellmann told New Era, “The course is to prepare these people to become hunting operators by themselves in their conservancies. Presently, in these conservancies there are professional hunters with hunting concessions who come from farms and safari outfits outside these areas. We want to indiginise hunting outfits operating in those areas.”

Kai-Uwe Denke, the president of NAPHA, told the participants that the communal conservancy programme initiated by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism is one of the flagships of Namibian conservation. He said “one of the big success stories of this country – the communal conservancies – are located in often the most spectacular parts of this country with its truly spectacular wide open spaces where some of our big game occurs”.

Denke said the local communal conservancy programme, which is about resource beneficiation to the communities resident in these conservancies, has been so successful that Namibia received international recognition.

He referred to the 2012 Markhor Award that was received jointly by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) and the Namibian Association of CBNRM Support Organisations (NACSO) from the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation that recognised Namibia’s outstanding work in communal conservancies.

“The programme is about benefit-deriving as they call it. The benefits from wildlife should go to the people on the ground represented by you. The programme is a huge Namibian success story,” he said.

The course will enable participants to successfully run their own hunting operations based on good business ethics and ensure they operate within the law.

Aspects of the course included rules and regulations regarding hunting in communal conservancies such as the option to hunt so-called problem animals and restrictions on the hunting of collared animals. It also looked at the distribution of trophy meat.

The course also looked at the trophy-hunting season from February to November and that the nature conservation ordinance strictly prohibits hunting at night and hunting from moving vehicles.

Scores of communal conservancies scattered around the country are required by law to elect representative committees (board of directors) to manage natural resources and equitably distribute the income derived from tourism such as photography safaris and from hunting.

Source : New Era