Namibia Restock Wildlife

More than 6 700 wildlife have been reintroduced to conservancies since 1999.Game reintroductions to communal area conservancies have increased populations of species - especially those that were removed from areas where there is an oversupply of animals.

Since 1999 until 2007, 15 different species were translocated to 27 conservancies. Most of the game re-introduced to these areas were springbok, gemsbok, hartebeest, kudu and eland, including locally extinct species such as black faced impala, giraffe, black rhino, sable and Burchell's zebra.

Jo Tagg, coordinator of the Integrated Community-based Management (ICEMA) project said recently the re-introductions cost more than N$10 million. This amount, according to a publication, Namibia's communal conservancies a review of progress and challenges in 2007, excludes black rhino.

He said the re introductions have not only helped restore the range of wildlife species, but also boosted the natural increments and migration of species, increased biodiversity in communal lands and also enabled conservancies to earn valuable income through tourism and trophy hunting.

The desire to reestablish species in the former range, minimal threat to wildlife (poaching) and competing forms of land use, commitment shown by local communities and their management efficiency and the availability of suitable habitat and access to water are the criteria used to select recipient conservancies.

In 2008 alone, 880 springbok, 535 gemsbok, 282 red hartebeest, 373 kudu, 325 eland, 200 common impala, 300 Hartmann's zebra, 16 black faced impala, 100 Burchell's zebra, 50 giraffe and six black rhinoceros were translocated.

In Nyae Nyae conservancy for instance, the reintroduction of about 2 114 animals between 1999 and 2004 helped the recovery of wildlife populations.

Before 1996, rural communities on communal land had no right over wildlife because all wildlife was state property and was generally poorly managed. While this was the case, local communities suffered extensive losses as a result of wildlife.

"Hunting and poaching were rife and wildlife populations were declining. In contrast commercial farmers were entitled to utilise wildlife on their farms and thereby benefited from 1975," said Tagg.

In the 1980s, there was a serious decrease in wildlife because of the droughts and heavy poaching in communal areas especially in Kunene and Caprivi regions.

The main reasons for poaching, according to Tagg, were that local communities bore the cost of living alongside wildlife, yet they had no benefits.

However, in 1996, the Nature Conservation Amendment Act of 1996 was promulgated, which gave communal area dwellers exclusive rights of ownership over wildlife, rights to revenues from the sale of game or game products and rights to tourism.

Conservancies have grown from four in 1998 to 53 in 2008, covering 14.4 percent of Namibia's surface.
Article Wildlife Restocked in Thousands - by Wezi Tjaronda, WINDHOEK