Rainbows over the old farm of Wereldsend.

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News, views and true stories from Namibia

 
 
A road and pylons cut through a mountainous and desert environment.
 

Promoting transparency, public participation and understanding of the Environmental Impact Assessment process in Namibia

Namibian Chamber of Environment

Public trust in Namibia's Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process seems to be at an all-time low, with many complaints and protests occurring after development projects have been given the green light. The new EIA Tracker website will increase transparency and public engagement with development projects during and after the EIA process in order to minimise environmental and social impacts. In particular, high risk development projects require careful public scrutiny to ensure sustainable development.
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A man holds a small shark in his hands.
 

The Surprising Impact of Sharks on Namibia's Marine ecosystem health and Climate Change

Namibian Chamber of Environment

Sharks are well-known for their fearsome reputation, but did you know that they have an important role to play in the ecosystem? As the apex predators of the ocean, they even help mitigate climate change! Namibia boasts 52 shark species, many of which are under-studied. The new Namibia's Rays and Sharks project was established to discover more about sharks in our waters and create awareness about the threats they face and their role in the marine ecosystem.
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A group of seven elephants is clearly visible from the air.
 

Namibia's elephant numbers confirmed by regional aerial survey

Namibian Chamber of Environment

An elephant survey covering 60% of the massive 519,912 square kilometre Kavango-Zambezi Trans-frontier Conservation Area was completed in late 2022 and the results released in 2023. This survey includes the northeastern part of Namibia and parts of four neighbouring countries. These results confirm that the Namibian elephant population is healthy and stable, while the areas surveyed also host numerous other wildlife species in protected areas and communal conservancies. 
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A lone elephant walks through a woodland area close to a mountain range.
 

How climate change threatens the coexistence between communities and the Kunene highland elephants

Namibian Chamber of Environment

A small sub-population of elephants living in the Kunene highlands have adapted remarkably well to traversing rocky, mountainous terrain where few other elephants would tread. The people of Orupupa Conservancy have managed to coexist with elephants until the recent drought increased human-elephant conflict, which is a harbinger of worse droughts to come due to climate change. The community game guards and a new funding partner provide hope for a future of coexistence despite the changing climate.
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Trees in the background with a ploughed field and assorted crops in the foreground.
 

Can conservation and agriculture work together for inclusive regional development in the Zambezi Region?

University of Cologne/London School of Economic and Political Science

Wildlife conservation and agriculture are ordinarily seen as opposing sectors, since wildlife can damage crops and livestock, while conservation zones usually exclude farming. The impact of COVID-19 caused conservancies in the Zambezi Region to re-examine their relationship with the agricultural sector and has opened some doors for future collaboration between these sectors. Carolin Hulke researched the needs of farming conservancy members and how their conservancies can assist them to create a broader base of beneficiaries from community-based natural resource management.
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A white 4x4 is parked in the foreground with an elephant in the background.
 

How to increase the contribution of community conservation to rural development in Namibia

University of Cologne

Dr Linus Kalvelage uses insights from his research on tourism in communal conservancies in the Zambezi Region to suggest ways to improve the current state of community-based natural resource management in Namibia. He explores options for increasing income from wildlife products and using current tourism revenue to invest in other economic sectors, thus creating a more resilient regional economy.
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A close up of a green sea turtle on a beach.
 

Getting to know Namibia's new marine visitor: Eight things you didn't know about Green Sea Turtles

Namibian Chamber of Environment

Did you know that a green turtle was found nesting on Namibia's shores for the first time ever in 2020? This is exciting news since this endangered species is threatened in many of its nesting sites elsewhere on the west coast of Africa. The Kunene River Mouth where this turtle was found is protected and remote, thus reducing the chance of humans disturbing turtle nests. Here are eight things you should know about this species of sea turtle.
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A white 4x4 is parked in the foreground with an elephant in the background.
 

Conservancies in Namibia need to look beyond tourism to drive rural development

University of Cologne

Communal conservancies in Namibia rely heavily on photographic and hunting tourism income to fund their activities and generate benefits for their members. However, this income is not enough to provide substantial returns for all rural households living in conservancies. In this first of two articles, Dr Linus Kalvelage shares insights from his research in the Zambezi Region on how much money from tourism remains in the region and where it goes.
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A lioness wearing a satellite collar walks through the desert sand.
 

Fishing with lions: How Namibian anglers and desert-adapted lions share the Skeleton Coast

Namibian Chamber of Environment

The desert-adapted lions in north-west Namibia have rediscovered the marine food resources along the Skeleton Coast, which is great news for their long-term survival. Their coastal movements created conditions for a different kind of human-lion conflict, however, as sea fishermen use the same area during the fishing season. Constant monitoring and awareness campaigns during the 2022/23 fishing season kept both lions and fishermen safe.
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A pride of lions walks across open grassland with a single tree behind them and the Etosha pan in the background.
 

Solving the fairy circle mystery using scientific evidence

 

The Fairy Circles of the Namib Desert are an excellent subject for scientific research. Scientists have posed several theories about what causes these bare patches of sand and maintains them over time. Dr Stephan Getzin weighs in on the subject based on many years of field research, data collection and analysis. Unconvinced of the sand termite and Euphorbia hypotheses, he argues for plant self-organisation.
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A pride of lions walks across open grassland with a single tree behind them and the Etosha pan in the background.
 

The Lions of Etosha: A Brief History

Namibian Chamber of Environment

Etosha National Park has a long history that includes changing boundaries, building a fence and establishing permanent water holes. Etosha's lions have adapted to the changing conditions and survived in the face of prey declines and persecution due to human-wildlife conflict. This article unpacks the history of lions in Etosha drawing from a scientific paper in the Namibian Journal of Environment.
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A lone herder walks with a large number of goats as the sun rises in the background.
 

What drives human-wildlife conflict in communal conservancies?

 

Human-wildlife conflict poses a major challenge to Namibian community conservation efforts. As part of her PhD research, Marina Tavolaro collected data on livestock losses, crop raiding, infrastructure damages and human attacks across 79 conservancies in Namibia during 2001-2019. She established which species cause the most damages in which parts of Namibia, which seasons are the worst for conflict with different species and what other environmental factors were linked with high levels of human-wildlife conflict.
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Tourists escorted by guides on a walking safari through //Huab Conservancy.
 

//Huab Conservancy prepares to take Minister Pohamba Shifeta to court

 

Mining activities in the //Huab Conservancy are threatening endangered black rhinos and have caused the only lodge in their area to shut down. The Environmental Impact Assessment was incomplete and ignored the impacts of mining on rhino-based tourism. Despite repeated attempts to stop the mining project and appeals to the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT) to intervene, nothing has happened. The conservancy is therefore preparing to take MEFT to court to fight for their livelihoods and the rhinos that are part of the MEFT custodian programme.
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Two elephants tussle in the foreground of a larger group.
 

Investigating human-wildlife conflict beyond conservancies

 

Most of the research on human-wildlife conflict in Namibia has been done on communal conservancies. Herman Aindongo's research into conflict on non-conservancy land therefore helps to fill some of the gaps in our knowledge. He found that farmers outside conservancies experience significant levels of conflict and are therefore in need of assistance.
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A view looking down and across a valley, with mountains in the background.
 

Investigating a little-known biodiversity hotspot

Enviro Science

South of the small town of Warmbad in Southern Namibia lies a little-known biodiversity hotspot located where the Succulent Karoo and Nama Karoo biomes meet. Antje Burke reports on her plant survey in this hotspot within the Orange River-Karoo Conservation Area, which comprises several private farms that are managing the land for conservation purposes. What she found exceeded even her most optimistic expectations - high plant diversity and several key populations of rare and protected plant species.
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One of the trainees watches as a giraffe runs into the distance.
 

Namibian Teachers become pioneers of Education for Sustainable Development

Namib Desert Environmental Education Trust

Education for Sustainable Development is crucial to conservation. Children need to understand the importance of the environment and find out what they can do in their daily lives to reduce their impact and improve the state of the natural world. The most effective way to reach children is through passionate, inspired and empowered teachers. Find out how the Namib Desert Environmental Education Trust is creating a network of such teachers across Namibia.
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Two game rangers walk across a grassy plain. Ahead the sun is just visible above a mountain range.
 

Announcing the Winners of Namibia's First GOSCARS

 

The inaugural GOSCARs (Grass-Roots Owen-Smith Community Rangers Awards) event was held on the 7th of April to recognise the commitment and hard work of four conservancy field workers. This event is held in honour of the late Garth Owen-Smith, who was among the early pioneers of community conservation in Namibia. This year's winners include two rhino rangers, a lion ranger and a Field Officer who continue are dedicated to carrying out their duties and mentoring others in the field.
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A long line fishing boat at sea.
 

Have We Learned Anything from Fishrot?

 

The fishrot scandal revealed major flaws in the way Namibian marine fisheries are governed, particularly relating to the allocation of fishing quotas. The subsequent overfishing has left key economically and ecologically important fish stocks severely depleted, with severe consequences for livelihoods and marine conservation. The management of fisheries must change fundamentally if Namibia is to prevent future scandals of this nature and restore the marine ecosystem on its shores. Dr Chris Brown proposes a way forward for improved fisheries management.
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The rocky desert of north-western Namibia.
 

The Role of Rolling Zebras in the Desert Ecosystem

 

Did you know that a rolling zebra makes a measurable impact on the desert environment? Hartmann's mountain zebras are near endemic to Namibia, where they occur widely on the western escarpment. Their habit of rolling in the dust creates important microhabitats for plants and animals. A new scientific study reveals how this works.
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The rocky desert of north-western Namibia.
 

Evaluating the Results of Namibia's Elephant Auction

 

Namibia's Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism has auctioned 37 elephants, 22 of which were exported to captivity in the United Arab Emirates. This article provides the basic facts of the matter and evaluates the consequences of this decision as it relates to elephant conservation, welfare and legality.
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The rocky desert of north-western Namibia.
 

It's about time, not distance – flying for rhino and elephant conservation

 

Flying in a light aircraft over the spectacular desert landscape of the Kunene Region can be hazardous. Nonetheless, pilot Conrad Brain spent several weeks making regular flights over the Christmas period on the lookout for potential rhino poachers and elephants. He describes the flying experience and his part of this joint operation to protect Namibia's special desert-adapted species.
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Two fishng vessels moored at a quay.
 

Why the Namibian moratorium on sardine fishing must continue

 

The sardine fish stock off Namibia's coastline collapsed by 99.5% between the 1960s and 2015, prompting the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR) to impose a three-year moratorium on sardine fishing in 2018. It is now time to review the moratorium, but it is clear that this fish stock has not recovered sufficiently to sustain any level of commercial fishing. Three seabird species provide ideal indicator species for sardine stocks, and none of these have recovered. Keeping the moratorium in place until the ecosystem recovers is therefore essential.
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A rocky mountain slope.

Climate Change in Namibia Part 4: Local Actions

Namibian Chamber of Environment

In the final article of our series on climate change in Namibia, we consider a few of the ways that rural Namibians can adapt to projected climate conditions. These include the sustainable harvest of bush, agricultural diversification and conservation agriculture. Developing a strong wildlife economy and markets for valuable non-timber forest products will also have positive impacts on rural livelihoods and biodiversity.
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A rocky mountain slope.

Climate Change in Namibia Part 3: National Actions

Namibian Chamber of Environment

World leaders, including Namibia's President Dr Hage Geingob, are currently attending the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties. In this third article on climate change, we outline a plan that the government can implement to both mitigate and adapt to climate change. Adapting to climate change is particularly important to reduce the vulnerability of our rural communities.
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A graph showing changes in temperature with time.

Climate Change in Namibia Part 2: Current and Projected Changes

Namibian Chamber of Environment

Namibia is among the most vulnerable countries in the world to the effects of climate change. Climate projections reveal that Namibia will become hotter faster than most other countries, with subsequent increasing frequency of drought conditions. Climate change will intersect with how the land is used and managed to determine Namibia's future.
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A bar chart showing rising temperatures.

Climate Change in Namibia Part 1: Defining the Terms

Namibian Chamber of Environment

The science and politics of climate change are complex and could be overwhelming for the interested layperson. In this first article in the lead up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference of Parties in Glasgow this year, we unpack some of the most common terms used in this field.
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A game guard kneels in the shade of a tree while he fills out his event book. The ground is parched and dry.

Understanding the Kunene Wildlife Numbers

Namibian Association of CBNRM Support Associations (NACSO)

Community conservation in the Kunene Region has been criticised due to recent wildlife declines reported by the Namibian Association of CBNRM Organisations (NACSO). In response to the critics, NACSO explains how the data are collected and outline possible reasons for the decline. They put these numbers into context and reveal why the CBNRM programme remains resilient despite the drought and COVID-19.
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A Vulture and a jackal fight over a carcass
 

How do you like your meat? Unleaded, please!

 

Lead is a toxic substance to humans and all other biological organisms, yet it is still used in bullets and fishing sinkers. Lead bullets fragment into hundreds of tiny pieces upon impact. These fragments pose a threat to game meat consumers, including people and scavenging species like vultures. Namibian stakeholders are working together to switch to lead-free bullets as a matter of urgency for the sake of human health and the environment.
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A lion chews on the corner of a canvas tent, while camp chairs sit in disarray behind him.
 

Can we take the Angolan giraffe back to Angola?

 

Despite their name, the Angolan giraffe no longer occurs in Angola, as it was eradicated during the 40-year conflict in that country. Hope remains, however, as Namibia's population of Angolan giraffe is thriving. Jackson Hamutenya investigated whether or not Iona National Park in Angola will be suitable for a giraffe introduction from Namibia. Read all about his findings here.
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A lion chews on the corner of a canvas tent, while camp chairs sit in disarray behind him.
 

Recognising community rangers in honour of Garth Owen-Smith

 

In the early 1980s Garth Owen-Smith joined forces with traditional leaders and rural communities in Namibia to stop poaching. Together they did something unthinkable at the time - employ people from within rural communities to look after wildlife on behalf of their people. Community rangers thus sit at the heart of Namibia's community-based conservation success story. A new annual awards event for community rangers is thus a fitting memorial to this conservation giant.
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A lion chews on the corner of a canvas tent, while camp chairs sit in disarray behind him.
 

The plot thickens – Euphorbia bushes do not cause fairy circles

 

Following the recent revival of the theory that Euphorbia bushes cause fairy circles in the Namib Desert, a team of researchers revisit dead Euphorbia bushes after 40 years to show that this is not the case. Based on this and other evidence, they suggest that neither Euphorbias nor termites explain the phenomenon of fairy circles.
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A lion chews on the corner of a canvas tent, while camp chairs sit in disarray behind him.
 

Brandberg Lion Attack – a minor drama in a complex conservation landscape

 

When a desert-adapted lion attacks Helge Denker in his tent near Brandberg, it sets him thinking about the complex situation these lions find themselves in today. Lions are coming ever closer to human settlements after the recent drought followed by scattered rainfall that dispersed their few remaining prey. Communal conservancies bear the brunt of the resulting conflict, but is there a way to create real benefits from these lions? Managing the situation will be difficult, but today we have better knowledge and systems in place to handle it.
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An overhead view of the Namibian desert showing dozens of fairy circles interspaced with Euphorbia bushes.
 

It's not too good to be true – Elephants are thriving in Namibia

Namibian Chamber of Environment

African savannah elephants are declining in many countries, but not in Namibia, where their numbers are increasing. This good news has been met with some scepticism and questions have been raised about how elephants are counted in the country. Here, the methods used for counting elephants using aerial surveys are described and the oddly controversial issues surrounding these counts are addressed.
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An overhead view of the Namibian desert showing dozens of fairy circles interspaced with Euphorbia bushes.

Spotty cats, solid data – Namibia's first national cheetah survey

Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research of Berlin

The Namibian cheetah population is critical to the long-term survival of this species. This nation-wide survey based on thorough understanding of cheetah movement ecology is therefore a highly welcome development. A more accurate population estimate will be valuable for guiding future cheetah conservation efforts.
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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 Foundation

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 aeroplane 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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