Community Conservation In Namibia Requires Balance And Understanding

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Source: https://news.mongabay.com/2019/05/c...equires-balance-and-understanding-commentary/


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Commentary by Gail Potgieter on 29 May 2019

  • In a recent article, John Grobler recounted his experiences from a one-week visit to Nyae Nyae Conservancy in Namibia. Mr. Grobler’s report, based on brief experiences in Nyae Nyae and a cursory study of the Namibian conservancy system, leaves much to be desired.
  • Grobler implies that the Namibian conservancy program has been less successful in terms of conserving wildlife and providing benefits to local people than the government and supporting NGOs claim. In order to judge the Namibian conservancies, one needs to first place them within the broader African conservation context.
  • This context allows us to examine a more central question about conservancies, one that has been incorrectly answered by many. What exactly are Namibian conservancies, and what is their purpose?
  • This post is a commentary. The views expressed are those of the author, not necessarily Mongabay.
This commentary is a response to an article by John Grobler published by Mongabay on February 26, 2019: “It pays, but does it stay? Hunting in Namibia’s community conservation system.”

In a recent article, John Grobler recounted his experiences from a one-week visit to Nyae Nyae Conservancy in Namibia. Mr. Grobler’s report, based on brief experiences in Nyae Nyae and a cursory study of the Namibian conservancy system, leaves much to be desired.

As with many things in life, the more you know about an issue the more you come to realize that it is much more complicated than it first appears. In all fairness, it would be unrealistic to expect anyone wishing to write about a subject to become an expert before they put pen to paper, and that is especially true of Namibia’s conservancy program. That would mean that reporting on the status of any given conservancy would require at least a year of being immersed in the local culture, studying the historical and ecological context, and attending conservancy meetings. Alternatively, you can talk to the experts – the people who have spent most of their careers working with individual conservancies or supporting the conservancy program at a national level.

I was privileged to work with five conservancies in Namibia’s Kunene Region for two years. Working with conservancy committees and employees, along with attending community meetings, gave me insights into the conservancy system that I could not have obtained just by reading about it. During this time, I made a point of spending time with some of the experts on the conservancy system. These include people who were involved with the conservancy system from the very beginning and those who have carried the torch since then.


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