Nature conservation meeting kicks off in Otjiwarongo

Nearly 200 nature conservationists operating in communal areas countrywide are gathered in a two-day annual general meeting at Otjiwarongo to discus matters of conservancy funds, human wildlife conflicts, poaching and trophy hunting.

The Minister of Environment and Tourism, PohambaShifeta on Wednesday officially opened their meeting, saying there is a total of 86 communal conservancies now in the whole country.

Chairpersons and managers of these conservancies are also attending the meeting here, Shifeta said.

The minster said conservancies in a year generate millions of money through the trophy hunting programmes and other tourism income generating activities.

He said the generated funds are supposed to benefit communities at large, compared to a situation now that some conservancies are largely benefiting a few well connected individuals with ties to the traditional authorities.

Shifeta told the members of these communal nature conservations to make sure they discuss in their meeting how they intend to start distributing this money generated from the conservancies.

He however, reminded management strictures of the conservancies of a directive from his office that says that more than half of the money generated should benefit the communities.

The minister said the Namibia's community based natural resource management programme is entirely aimed at uplifting community members out of poverty.

He said the nature conservation programme allows communities to manage and conserve these natural resources and also benefit from it through employment creation, cash incomes and in kind.

It is through these nature conservations also the wildlife population is expected to increase and create a healthy ecosystem through improved conservation practices, he said.

Shifeta wants to see management structures in conservancies start electrifying rural areas, building classrooms for village schools, supply learners with learning materials, payment of school contribution fees, scholarships, transporting school children to and from schools and drilling boreholes that would supply water to people.

Shifeta said his office will demand from now onwards to see detailed financial reports of conservancies with a deadline set for November each year.

Shifeta furthermore instructed the conversationists to start becoming financially sustainable and operate the conservancies like businesses.

The minister warned members stop borrowing money from these conservancy funds, saying it is illegal and unlawful.

He also called on conservancies to introduce mechanisms that would reduce levels of human wildlife conflicts in their areas now as the drought facing the country starts to worsen and might increase cases of human wildlife conflict due to competition between wild animals, human beings and livestock for resources such water and grazing will be experienced.

The meeting which started on Wednesday ends on Thursday.

Source: Namibia Press Agency