Nam bears the torch in dealing with human-animal conflict

by Annines Angula

Namibia is cherished for its scintillating land outcrops including the Namib deserts whose beauty serenades travellers into the shores of the Atlantic Ocean has now capped a new high in finding harmony between its human inhabitants and its fauna. The country has found a perfect way of encouraging co-existence between the marauding wild animals especially elephants which most cases have left villagers in the outskirts of the Erongo region without portable water as they destroy the few rise and developmental partners.

The solution to the conflict between humans and animals in Namibia’s marginalised communities seem to have come through the establishment of conservancies.

Alas, the country is viewed as having the best-managed wildlife conservancies in the Southern African Development Community driven by constant investments by the Government and development partners in creating community-based conservancies. Other countries that have laid the best such conservancies in Africa are Botswana, Kenya Zimbabwe, and South Africa. These are driven by finding ways of building more water reservoirs emanating from the aquifers where both humans and wild animals can share the precious liquid without infringing on each other’s declared and none declared rights.

It took the celebration of World Wild Life Day this past weekend for the Country’s Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta to share with the world his motherland’s success story in implementing a perfect conflict resolution between animals and humans in Namibia. Well, it’s not usual that such conflict resolutions make headlines in African, a continent where words like resolutions are associated with dealing with the armed militia that is aiming to take over democratically elected Government, but well this song is being sung in Namibia in communities between wild animals and humans.

“Today we are gathered here to celebrate World Wildlife day and as a country, we have made major strides in promoting co-existence between our wild animals and our human population. Through partnerships with developmental partners, we have invested in the creation of water reservoirs in marginalised areas and conservancies including Ohungu conservancy to make sure that animals do not continue ravaging your homesteads and crops.

“ We have been used to hearing complains of villagers cry over elephants that destroy their crops but in the end we need to know that these are our animals and we must devise plans where we both co-exist,” a rather jovial Shifeta told a gathering of villagers in Omatjete in the outskirts of the coastal Erongo region.

According to Pohamba, his Government has been implementing a long term plan that would save villagers from night running battles with elephants which destroyed homesteads while looking for water sources through creating the same water sources in the midst of the country’s forests. Thanks to the Namibian Government’s efforts and other partners including the GIZ, the United Nations Development Fund as well as cases where elephants attack villagers have drastically been lowered.

“We believe that animals are part of the natural resources that our people should benefit from hence we have set up these conservancies where a certain portion of the earnings collected through trophy hunting can be used to develop local communities. This however only works if we manage to co-exist and make sure that we find ways of sharing the most important resources such as water with the animals,” Shifeta added.

As weird as it seems drinking water is quite a scarce resources in the marginalised areas of the Erongo region which predominantly under desert conditions and villagers have to make do with the little that is available and scenarios where elephants destroy the little infrastructure that preserves water do not make life that easy.

Perhaps that explains the anger that villagers in the small village of Omatjete in Namibia showed while engaging the minister of continuously improving methods that promote coexistence between themselves and animals in the area. Shifeta, however, added that despite the many success stories where humans are now living in peace with animals serve for predators his Government still faces a plethora of challenges in sustaining the growth of the established conservancies.

“As a government, we will continue working with partners to finance such an initiative where solutions are found in dealing with human-wildlife conflicts. Days as this one where we meet and celebrate allows direct interaction with communities and finding solutions to the raised problems,” he said.

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