and the Environment in Namibia
Tribute to David Graham Ward, Namibia's champion citizen scientist
Namibia bid farewell to one of its leading conservationists this year. While Dave Ward travelled across the country as part of his work in communal conservancies, he kept a sharp eye out for birds and other species of conservation significance. His detailed records of the species he sighted represent a significant contribution to our knowledge of the status and distribution of many bird, reptile, amphibian, butterfly and invasive alien plant species. These records are part of his legacy to conservation, which includes many young Namibians and conservancy employees he trained and mentored for over 20 years.
Inspiring action and creating change among rural Namibian primary school learners and their communities
Children from rural areas in Namibia may live around wildlife, but few get the chance to really learn about the environment and how they can play a role in conservation. The Elephant-Human Relations Aid's new environmental education centre is changing this situation in the Kunene and Erongo Regions where desert-adapted elephants occur. Children visiting the centre learn about all aspects of the environment, while also getting a chance to view elephants safely and explore the natural surroundings along the beautiful Ugab River.
Reintroducing Angolan giraffe into communal conservancies in the remote northwest
Giraffe Conservation Foundation
Translocating giraffes is a tricky process that requires skill and experience to ensure their safe capture, journey and release. The Giraffe Conservation Foundation recently coordinated a translocation of four Angolan giraffes from a private reserve in Namibia to two communal conservancies where they had previously occurred. This operation was used as a learning opportunity for young African veterinarians who come to Namibia to learn how to work with wildlife. It was also a cause for great celebration among community members who welcomed the return of these elegant giants to their conservancies.
The Kavango-Zambezi transfrontier elephant survey
Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism and WWF Namibia
The Kavango-Zambezi (KAZA) Transfrontier Conservation Area hosts an estimated 227,900 African savannah elephants, the largest population in the world. This estimate was calculated after conducting a coordinated aerial survey over relevant parts of the five KAZA countries: Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. While population trends and mortality rates differ among the countries, the population in Namibia's part of KAZA is healthy and growing alongside areas of high human and livestock density. These results will feed into integrated elephant management plans for this globally important conservation area.
Namibia's climate and the need to adapt to an uncertain future
Namibia's highly erratic and unpredictable rainfall is predicted to get worse due to climate change. The 2022/23 rainy season exemplified this trend, as expert predictions for above average rainfall during this season were not realised. Collecting enough data to improve scientific predictions is critical for helping people and governments adapt to the changing climate. This is a key reason for the existence of SASSCAL - the Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management. SASSCAL collects and collates climate data for southern Africa that are made freely available for public use.
Giving plastic pollution a cute face
Ocean Conservation Namibia
Plastic pollution in the ocean is a massive but largely unseen problem. The Cape fur seals off Namibia's coastline are among the many marine animals that get entangled by fishing line, nets and other plastic items floating in the sea. When Naude Dreyer started filming his efforts to rescue seals from entanglements and posting his videos on social media, he found huge public support for his efforts. Seeing an opportunity to fund their rescue mission for many more seals and create much-needed awareness about plastic pollution, Naude and Katja Dreyer started Ocean Conservation Namibia.
Conservation starts on a full stomach: Improving agricultural practices in communal conservancies
Vera Corry and Mareike Voigts
Agriculture and biodiversity conservation are often seen as competing sectors that are difficult to reconcile. The Namibia Nature Foundation’s Sustainable Agriculture Programme in northeastern Namibia seeks to change that by improving local agricultural practices. Working within communal conservancies, this programme trains farmers in organic agriculture, conservation agriculture and agroecology such that they can train and mentor others in their communities. Increasing agricultural productivity using these environmentally friendly methods improves food security and reduces land clearing for new crop fields, thus creating a win-win situation for biodiversity and farming communities.
The Greater Etosha Carnivore Programme
Rhys Medcalfe, James Beasley, Madeline Melton and Stephanie Périquet
The Greater Etosha Landscape includes Namibia's flagship Etosha National Park and the private and communal lands around it. Large carnivores move through this landscape, often traversing the Park boundary and entering farms or private reserves. Conserving these animals requires an extensive research programme that covers the whole landscape and focuses on both the animal ecology and human behaviour sides of the equation. The Greater Etosha Carnivore Programme is a collaborative research effort that has already started to close some of our knowledge gaps and will continue to generate information that can be used to better conserve Etosha’s carnivores.
The story of Namibian bush: Turning problems into opportunities
Ina Wilkie and Mirja Stoldt
Namibia is looking into ways to use encroaching bush species that are a symptom of degraded rangelands to develop an environmentally sustainable and economically valuable sector of the rural economy. Bush biomass can be used for multiple purposes, and the recently established National Dialogue Platform for Bush Resources seeks to explore these opportunities and share ideas on how to grow this sector. Experts who joined the platform discuss some of these options and the role of certification to promote a bush biomass sector that benefits people, the environment and the economy.
Weaving resilience – San women are adapting their livelihoods to climate change
The indigenous Khwe and !Xun San people living in Bwabwata National Park have few sources of income and are reliant on subsistence agriculture, which is highly vulnerable to climate change. Basket weaving is a traditional practice that offers a climate resilient way of generating cash income. WWF Namibia and Omba Arts Trust have therefore partnered with San women living in Bwabwata to weave and sell their baskets on national and international markets. These women are taking the opportunity to improve their livelihoods and support their families with both hands – literally and figuratively.
First-ever systematic lion population survey in northwest Namibia
John Heydinger, Uakendisa Muzuma
The first ever total count of the lion population in the Kunene took nine weeks of dedicated effort by Lion Rangers, the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, and several other partners. High quality photos of each lion's whisker spots serve to individually identify them for life and are used to produce lion ID cards. The final estimate of 57-60 lions is lower than previous estimates, but the population appears to have stabilised and the lions were found to be in good health. This survey provides a baseline for future monitoring and conservation action.
Towards healthy environments and decent livelihoods
Poverty and environmental degradation are interlinked problems that face Namibia and many other developing countries. John Mendelsohn draws on 25 years of research and experience to challenge the status quo of rural development projects and policies that perpetuate poverty and facilitate land degradation. He argues for sustainable urban development, peri-urban farming, land use planning and land tenure systems aimed at reducing pressure on natural resources and the environment. In this way, Namibia can simultaneously alleviate poverty and restore the natural environment for the benefit of all Namibians.
SMART Rangers for the conservation of desert-adapted lions
The Lion Rangers programme in the Kunene Region is one of the key strategies for reducing human-lion conflict by involving affected communities in lion conservation. The Lion Rangers were recently trained to use the SMART mobile application to track their patrols and record lion sightings, which are used for conservation and research purposes. Over the last 18 months, 47 Lion Rangers have patrolled 279,854 km, of which 87,678 km were covered on foot. These monitoring efforts are linked to detailed analyses to identify conflict hotspots and alert response teams to prevent conflict as much as possible.
The Nyae Nyae Pangolin Project: benefitting people and pangolins
The indigenous Ju/'hoansi San people living in Nyae Nyae Conservancy have several traditional beliefs about pangolins that prohibit killing this species, which is under severe threat throughout its global range due to poaching. The Pangolin Conservation and Research Foundation therefore established the Nyae Nyae Pangolin Project to employ local people to find and track the Temmink's ground pangolin occurring in this area. The project has established a permanent research camp and aims to employ one ranger in every village in the conservancy by 2028, while further providing many benefits to the broader community.
NCE Supports: Advocacy for sustainable use and Namibia's wildlife economy
Namibian Chamber of Environment
Namibia's wildlife conservation policies facilitate the legal, sustainable use of many species for the benefit of current and future Namibians. These policies have led to increasing wildlife numbers, in contrast to the failed protectionist approaches taken historically in Namibia and currently in other countries. The Namibian Chamber of Environment is an advocate for evidence-based, effective nature conservation policies and therefore supports the principle of sustainable use. As part of our work in this area, we continue to educate policy makers and the public on the benefits of sustainable hunting, harvesting and trade for biodiversity conservation.