How can we ensure healthy wildlife populations despite increasing human pressure?
WILDLIFE IS RAPIDLY DECLINING ACROSS MUCH OF AFRICA AND OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD
Over the last century, lions were actively eradicated as a threat to human safety and to livestock from most land used by people; lions from the remaining populations continue to be killed over livestock losses and safety concerns in communal areas and along the periphery of parks today.
Southern African rhinos were driven to the brink of extinction a century ago, but populations were rebuilt through effective conservation activities; rhinos are now being decimated again by ruthless commercial poaching for their horns.
A century ago, elephants were drastically reduced by the uncontrolled ivory trade, and displaced as a threat to crops and safety; today most of the remaining southern African populations are healthy and growing, but ruthless commercial poaching for ivory is again having an impact.
Many other species are experiencing similar declines, mostly due to land conversion to agriculture and incompatible land uses.
PREVENTING ALL WILDLIFE DEATHS FORCES PEOPLE TO REPLACE WILDLIFE HARVESTING WITH OTHER LAND USES
WILDLIFE WILL ONLY REMAIN ON THE LAND IF LAND STEWARDS BENEFIT FROM IT
Namibia's lion population is healthy and increasing, and is today at its highest since independence in 1990; lion range has expanded significantly, especially in north-western Namibia.
Namibia's populations of both black and white rhinos were partly rebuilt over the last three decades and former ranges were reestablished by providing economic incentives as a basis for their conservation.
Namibia's elephant population has tripled since independence and elephants have re-colonised former ranges, largely facilitated by community conservation and benefits to local communities.
Most other large wildlife species in Namibia have healthier populations today than at any time over the last 150 years.
PROMOTING WILDLIFE USE CREATES INCENTIVES TO KEEP WILDLIFE ON THE LAND AS AN ECONOMIC ASSET
HABITAT LOSS THROUGH HUMAN LAND USES THAT ARE INCOMPATIBLE WITH WILDLIFE is the largest single cause of wildlife declines around the world.
UNCONTROLLED EXPLOITATION AND COMMERCIAL POACHING are causing rapid declines amongst already isolated wildlife populations in many African countries.
HABITAT PROTECTION AND EXPANSION THROUGH COMMUNITY CONSERVATION BASED ON WILDLIFE USE enables large- scale wildlife recoveries, mitigates human impacts and facilitates the health of ecosystems.
All of these uses can and should be combined where possible to maximise returns and provide a variety of benefits to different people in each community.
ACTIVE AND COLLABORATIVE WILDLIFE CRIME PREVENTION limits impacts from commercial poaching by teaming up relevant stakeholders including local communities, tourism and hunting operators, NGOs and government agencies.
STRINGENT CONTROL MECHANISM FOR ALL WILDLIFE USE prevents uncontrolled exploitation and over-harvesting.
Namibia balances conservation priorities and the needs of rural communities:
In Namibia, most communal land (around 37% of the country) and privately-owned or freehold land (around 43% of the country) is used to generate a living for the land holders. Livestock herding, crop production and game management are the main land uses.
Conservation outside national parks therefore depends on giving wildlife a tangible value so that people keep it on the land – rather than eradicating it in favour of livestock, crops or other land uses.
Keeping wildlife on the land also means living with wildlife – wildlife that can be dangerous and destructive. Disney is not reality – in real life...
... lions, crocodiles and other predators eat livestock and sometimes kill people
... elephants raid crops and destroy water installations and also sometimes kill people
... many other wild animals such as hippos, buffaloes and rhinos can also be difficult and dangerous to live with.
Namibia has one of the most intensive wildlife monitoring and utilisation control systems in Africa and the world:
Namibia uses a variety of systems to monitor and manage wildlife populations. The systems differ between national parks, community conservation areas and private farmland and are tailored to meet local needs. Management is by no means perfect in all areas or at all times. Yet the general approach of actively using wildlife outside parks for the benefit of rural communities has proven to be very successful, enabling healthy wildlife populations and strengthening local livelihoods. Namibia's dynamic conservation community ensures that environmental concerns are publicly recognised. While a balance between economic development and conservation in rural Africa is often problematic, most stakeholders strive to address issues. Collaboration between government, local communities, support NGOs and the private sector is a key to Namibia's conservation success.
No single approach or system is perfect. The flexibility to adapt to changing needs and circumstances is more important than any one system or approach.
What exactly is sustainable wildlife harvesting?
Sustainable wildlife harvesting means harvesting a limited percentage of wildlife stocks without compromising the health of the overall population,
in order to generate income for local communities and enable wildlife management as a viable land use. When this is legally-entrenched, well-controlled and based on scientific principles and sound knowledge, it is fully sustainable.
Wildlife harvesting has been a natural factor controlling game populations throughout human evolution, just like the impact of lions and other predators.
Sustainable wildlife harvesting...
Sustainable wildlife harvesting includes these activities:
What exactly is conservation hunting?
Conservation hunting consists of harvesting small numbers of indigenous wildlife as part of a personal wilderness experience based on traditional human survival skills. Conservation fishing harvests indigenous fish according to the same principles. These activities have verifiable prerequisites and outcomes (see opposite page) while focussing on wilderness experiences and participation in natural dynamics through regenerative pursuits. They can be combined under the term wildernessing and promote the protection of free-roaming indigenous species in their natural habitat.
The Namibian conservation hunting fraternity adheres to guidelines for ethical hunting, including:
Ethics may be considered a personal value statement and can differ between individuals and cultures. Hunting ethics should be directly linked to conservation outcomes, primarily to promote the protection of free-roaming indigenous wildlife in its natural habitat.
CONSERVATION HUNTING HAS THE FOLLOWING VERIFIABLE PREREQUISITES AND OUTCOMES:
Through these criteria, conservation hunting creates clear incentives to adopt wildlife management as a land use.
WILDLIFE PRESERVATION WITHOUT HABITAT CONSERVATION IS MEANINGLESS!
Land conversion and resultant habitat loss is mostly overlooked by the public, but is the biggest killer of wildlife!
Wildlife needs large areas of intact habitat to ensure healthy populations:
PEOPLE ONLY MAKE THE EFFORT TO KEEP WILDLIFE HABITATS INTACT IF THEY HAVE A TANGIBLE INCENTIVE TO DO THIS.
POACHING AND UNCONTROLLED EXPLOITATION DECIMATE WILDLIFE!
Poaching and uncontrolled exploitation should never be confused with legal, sustainable wildlife harvesting!
COMMERCIAL POACHING, ESPECIALLY OF RHINOS AND ELEPHANTS, IS A HUGE THREAT TO NAMIBIA'S VALUABLE WILDLIFE AND TO A VARIETY OF INDUSTRIES BASED ON IT.
TROPHY BREEDING AND SHOOTING DISCREDITS ALL SUSTAINABLE WILDLIFE HARVESTING!
Trophy shooting activities motivated only by financial gain should not be confused with conservation hunting!
These and similar practices make no conservation contributions and are not part of conservation hunting:
GAME USE MUST BE ABLE TO PROVE CONSERVATION OUTCOMES TO BE ACCEPTED AS A VIABLE CONSERVATION ACTIVITY
EMOTIONAL ANTI-HUNTING CAMPAIGNS UNDERMINE CONSERVATION!
Anti-hunting campaigns based on emotional opinions should not derail proven conservation approaches!
In a modern world of inter-connectivity, social media and concerned global citizens, well-meaning but at times misguided international opinion and pressure don't always bring positive change – they also have the ability to influence and change legitimate local activities for the worse. Local communities and environments are often the worst affected.
NAMIBIA'S WELL-DOCUMENTED, SUCCESSFUL APPROACH TO CONSERVATION SHOULD NOT BE JEOPARDISED BY OUTSIDERS
What would be lost, if wildlife could not be used to generate income for local communities outside parks?
Hunting bans, which could consist either of Namibia stopping the activity of hunting, or of other countries stopping the import of hunting trophies – thereby closing the market – would have detrimental effects for wildlife outside parks, and for people currently benefitting from that wildlife.
MOST LARGER WILDLIFE SPECIES WOULD BE DISPLACED FROM MUCH OF NAMIBIA IF THEY COULD NOT BE USED TO GENERATE INCOME
Using wildlife ensures its value for land holders and KEEPS IT ON THE LAND!
The economic value of wildlife creates the incentive for land holders to include wildlife as a land use. If wildlife is not used, but preserved only for its own sake, it has little place outside parks, because land outside parks is used to generate rural livelihoods and contribute to the national economy.
THE LEGAL USE OF WILDLIFE ENABLES LAND HOLDERS TO SEE IT AS PART OF THEIR LIVELIHOOD, ENSURING HEALTHY POPULATIONS
A publication of:
NACSO Natural Resources Working Group
Further Information Resources:
Community conservation in Namibia: www.nacso.org.na
(especially the annual Community Conservation Report)
State protected areas in Namibia: www.met.gov.na
International wildlife trade regulations: www.cites.org
International biodiversity conservation: www.iucn.org
The Namibian Association of CBNRM Support Organisations (NACSO)
embraces a variety of NGOs and individual members, who provide a range of technical and funding support to community conservation. Three NACSO working groups, namely the Natural Resources Working Group (NRWG), the Business, Enterprises and Livelihoods Working Group (BELWG) and the Institutional Development Working Group (IDWG), facilitate coordinated service provision to rural communities.