Rainbows over the old farm of Wereldsend.

© Gail Potgieter

 

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News, views and true stories from Namibia

 
 
An overhead view of the Namibian desert showing dozens of fairy circles interspaced with Euphorbia bushes.

Are Namibian Fairy Circles Euphorbia Tombstones?

Namibian Chamber of Environment

A new study brings to light a possible cause for Namibia's fairy circles – large succulent bushes called Euphorbias. These plants produce highly toxic milky white latex that inhibits the germination and growth of other plants, effects that last long after they are dead. The new theory explains many features of fairy circles and even predicted where previously unrecorded ones would be found. Large-scale die-offs of these plants could be linked to past climate change and is therefore a concern for the future.
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An elephant breaking down a fence.
 

The Story Behind the Namibian Elephant Auction

Namibian Chamber of Environment

The recent proposal by the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism to auction 170 elephants has been met with harsh criticism and many unsubstantiated accusations. This article provides the historical and current context required to understand this decision and calls for support to help Namibian farmers coexist with elephants in future.
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Closeup view of a pangolin.
 

Namibian Pangolin Working Group: collaboration for conservation success and World Pangolin Day

Namibian Pangolin Working Group

Pangolins are severely threatened by the illegal trade for their scales and parts, yet their ecological needs are poorly understood. The Namibian Pangolin Working Group was established in early 2020 to coordinate and drive efforts to reduce illegal trade, rehabilitate and release individuals seized from poachers and traffickers, conduct priority conservation research, and create awareness of the pangolin's plight in Namibia.
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The clearly stunted form of a dwarf giraffe - with an almost normal looking body, but very short legs.
 

Living From the Veld in Namibia

Namibian Chamber of Environment

Danene van der Westhuyzen's new book, From the Veld, showcases all-Namibian recipes for food obtained from nature. Danene and her family live off the land by hunting, gathering, milking and picking the ingredients needed for the delicious meals at home and at their two game lodges. We ask her more about life on the farm and the philosophy behind her new book and hunting in Namibia.
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The clearly stunted form of a dwarf giraffe - with an almost normal looking body, but very short legs.
 

Dwarf giraffe - Seriously?!

Giraffe Conservation Fund

Researchers from the Giraffe Conservation Foundation recently recorded not one, but two dwarf giraffes! This is the first time the condition known as skeletal dysplasia has been found in giraffe. Using a technique called photogrammetry, the scientists measured the bone lengths of each giraffe (one in Namibia and one in Uganda), with interesting results.
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The red rocks of the desert mountains of Namibia gleam under the rising sun.
 

An airborne Christmas present for anti-poaching teams

 

The period between and around Christmas day and New Year’s is a time of increased criminal activity, thus requiring a bigger anti-poaching effort to protect Namibia’s free-ranging black rhinos. Dr Conrad Brain, an experienced bush pilot and veterinarian, joined the joint anti-poaching efforts with a Cessna airplane to provide valuable aerial support. He provides insight into why aerial support is necessary and what flying at low altitude in the rocky desert of north-west Namibia is like.
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Five Namibian ladies display their stunningly crafted necklaces.
 

Friends will be friends – even in the midst of a pandemic

Omba Arts Trust

The Covid-19 pandemic and related restrictions on international travel has had a devastating impact on the arts and crafts market in Namibia. Omba Arts Trust, which has empowered Namibian women to hone their craft-making skills and marketed their products to tourists since 2004, experienced a 90% income cut. Yet Director Karin le Roux is determined to find ways to help the local artisans who have partnered with Omba over the years. Find out how you can help.
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Namibian rangeland.
 

The Namib Desert's hairy-footed ecological engineers

Namibia University of Science and Technology

The hairy-footed gerbil may be small, but this new research confirms that it is an important ecological engineer in the Namib Desert ecosystem. Halle Shaanika spent five intense months in the desert to explore the ecological role of these diminutive rodents. He further considers the importance of gerbils for the survival of much larger herbivores in a harsh, hyper-arid environment.
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A group of cattle, and an elephant share a waterhole while a lone herder looks on.
 

Key Questions for Human-Elephant Conflict Research

Namibian Chamber of Environment

Reducing human-elephant conflict is a critical challenge in Namibia, where elephant populations are expanding into farming areas. More research is needed to understand the effectiveness of lethal control and how it fits in with non-lethal methods. Three questions are posed to stimulate research into this challenging topic that will assist long-term elephant management.
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Namibian rangeland.
 

Managing Namibian Rangelands in the Face of Uncertainty

Agri-Ecological Services

Namibia's dry climate with highly variable rainfall makes farming and land management a complicated business that can lead to rangeland degradation. Dr Cornelis van der Waal delivers up-to-date information based on remote sensing data for farmers, conservation managers and conservancies. This information aids adaptive management and our ability to respond to climate change.
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A huge mountain of plastic fills this local tip.
 

Is the plastic bag levy reducing single-use plastic waste in Namibia?

Gobabeb-Namib Research Institute

Little is known about the effectiveness of or public support for the plastic bag levy in Namibia. The Gobabeb - Namib Research Institute asked questions and made observations in five towns regarding plastic bag use and attitudes towards the levy. Much is still to be done to educate the public on the problem of plastic and promote viable alternatives.
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A large elephant approaches a man standing in front of a small wooden shack.
 

From Poacher’s Son to Conservation Leader – Defending Namibia’s Community Conservation Story

Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation

John Kasaona traces his own life story and the history of his people as it relates to conservation in Namibia. Given the success of these grassroots efforts, he expresses his frustration over those who criticise Namibian policies unfairly.
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An infographic showing human impact on nature, and its importance to us.
 

Placing Namibia in a Global Context

 

Several global reports on wildlife conservation have a bearing on Namibia and the broader southern African region. Siphiwe Lutibezi takes a look at the Living Planet Report and other recent global reports and applies some of the lessons learned to the Namibian situation.
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A cartoon depicting an elephant and a terrified villager balancing on a seesaw.
 

The Great Elephant Balancing Act

Namibian Chamber of Environment

Recent research on elephants emphasise the importance of male elephants in their society. This research is used as a club to batter countries in southern Africa into changing their elephant management policies. This article reviews the scientific evidence and calls for a balanced approach that considers both humans and elephants.
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A pride of lions relaxing at sunset.
 

Conserving lions in the heart of KAZA – The Kwando Carnivore Project

Namibian Chamber of Environment

The Zambezi Region is a critical landscape for conservation, but it is also a complex matrix of protected areas and community farmlands. People and lions thus frequently come into conflict here. The Kwando Carnivore Project is providing solutions for human-lion coexistence in collaboration with communal conservancies and other partners.
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Zebra at sunset.
 

Understanding and Conserving the Namibia-Botswana Zebra Migration

 

Results of a recent aerial survey in the Zambezi Region reveal that the migratory zebra population is doing well, and possibly extending their journey further north. This amazingly long migration covering Namibia and Botswana was only discovered in 2012 and researchers still have many unanswered questions.
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A newly released pangolin walks off into the sunset.
 

From Facing Certain Death to Contributing to Science – A Pangolin's Tale

Namibian Pangolin Working Group

A female pangolin was confiscated from wildlife traffickers by the Blue Rhino Task Team following a tip-off from the US Embassy in Namibia. She has now become the first satellite-tracked pangolin in Namibia. Kelsey Prediger of the Namibian Pangolin Working Group tells us her story and what it means for pangolin research and conservation.
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A rain droplet hanging from a tree is illumnated by the moon.
 

Science be Damned?

 

In light of the conspiracy theories swirling around the COVID-19 pandemic, Helge Denker asks why science - from zoonotic diseases to conservation research, amongst others - is often doubted while hoaxes are so easily believed. Are we victims of the Dunning-Kruger effect, treating correlation as causation, or just biased for one reason or another?
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A western barred spitting cobra, also known as a Zebra Snake.
 

Snakes in the City – the Windhoek Experience

Snakes of Namibia

Human-snake encounters can be dangerous for both parties, unless one calls professional snake removers. Francois Theart, the founder of Snakes of Namibia, tells us that his work is about more than just removing snakes from residential areas in Windhoek – he wants to find out what is driving human-snake conflict in the city and how to reduce it in the long-term. He shares the results of the first study of snake removals in the city in collaboration with the NUST Biodiversity Research Centre.
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A group of Namibian children listen to their guide.
 

Children from Communal Conservancies learn how to become Young Defenders of their environment

Namibian Chamber of Environment

Children from two communal conservancies were treated to a free four-day course in conservation and Leave No Trace, made possible through by the Conservation Travel Foundation and Namibian Chamber of Environment. Tracking rhinos, elephants and other wildlife on-foot while learning about caring for their environment.
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A Himba lady working in the bush.
 

Communal Conservancies Cry for Help to Survive Coronavirus Perfect Storm

Namibian Chamber of Environment

The coronavirus has created a perfect storm for communal conservancies in Namibia. Researchers reached out to people in five conservancies to find out what their greatest challenges were during the recent lockdown. Numerous stakeholders have since joined hands to help the conservancies weather the storm.
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A team of reseachers capturing a giraffe.
 

Namibia's Biodiversity Research Centre - Using Applied Research to Support Conservation Decision-making

Namibia University of Science and Technology

Prof. Morgan Hauptfleisch tells us about the NUST Biodiversity Research Centre that produces quality trans-disciplinary research to support data-driven decision-making for wildlife management and conservation through their postgraduate research programme.
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Map of the SCIONA project area.
 

Conserving the Skeleton Coast and Iona Trans-frontier Conservation Area

Namibia University of Science and Technology

Namibia and Angola have created a Trans-frontier Conservation Area linking the Skeleton Coast and Iona National Parks. A team from Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) are working with their Angolan counterparts to better understand this ecosystem and pave the way for future conservation initiatives that include local communities as key stakeholders.
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Two elephants spar with each-other.
 

The Battle for the Soul of Conservation - And what it means for Namibia

Namibian Chamber of Environment

Two groups of conservation scientists are doing battle over the soul of conservation. Should we manage wildlife based on our feelings about animals or the need for pragmatic solutions to real-world problems? Answering this question has ramifications for conservation practice globally and in Namibia.
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Namibian succulents.
 

Succulent Bio-Economy Project

NUST Biodiversity Research Centre

Researchers are investigating the agricultural production potential of succulent plants as part of a future Namibian bio-economy that will diversify farming activities and prepare for the effects of climate change.
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Three Namibian game rangers standing facing the camera.
 

The Coronavirus and Namibian Conservation

Namibian Chamber of Environment

Conservation efforts in Namibia has carried on despite the coronavirus epidemic, but the conservation partners face a stern test in the coming months and years due to reduced income from international tourism. Here is what you can do to help.
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Two vultures at a waterhole.
 

What you can do to help vulture research

Namibian Chamber of Environment

A new study on Lappet-faced Vultures in Namibia uses camera traps and sighting records from the public to show a high survival rate for a vulture population in the Namib-Naukluft.
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A conservancy game guard patrols on horseback.
 

Introducing Community Conservation Namibia.com

Namibian Chamber of Environment

Information about communal conservancies in Namibia is now more accessible than ever. Gail Thomson takes a brief tour of the new community conservation website to whet your appetite for exploring the site for yourself.
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A Namibian black rhino.
 

Opinion



By Chris Brown

15th November 2019

Using Namibia’s Wildlife to Drive a Green Economy

Namibian Chamber of Environment

The Namibian wildlife economy has grown due to conservation policies that devolve ownership rights of wildlife to the people living on the land. There nonetheless remains room for further growth in the sector that will benefit both people and wildlife.
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