Namibia, the country with the ‘world’s oldest desert’ and two global biodiversity hot spots, is pursuing an uncommon conservation model— one that sets wild species survival quotas for local communities and allows ‘cropping’ of surplus animals.
A country of 2.1 million with a land area of about 800,000 sq km, Namibia has its entire 1,500 km-long coastline and 44 per cent of the land mass under conservation management. National parks constitute 17 per cent of the land. In contrast, India with its dense population has about 4.7 per cent of its total geographical area under a protected area network.
“Communities have understood the value of conservation. By devolving the rights over wildlife and forest resources to the lowest levels, indigenous and local communities are now driving conservation. They ensure there is no poaching,” Namibia’s Environment and Tourism Minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah said here on Tuesday.
When the communities generate a population surplus of wild species, they are allowed to “harvest some game, and sell meat.”
Namibia allows legal hunting, using a system of concessions. In 2012, the country concluded 72 joint ventures involving conservation areas and private sector operators, including 42 hunting concessions and 30 lodges. Communal conservation areas generated $ 6 million in 2011.
Private farmers are custodians of wild animals and 8,000 head of various species, including black rhino and black-faced impala, have been relocated from formal parks to new conservation areas since 1999 to assist in growth.
The Minister was speaking to the media at the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity on Tuesday.
So successful has been the effort, the Minister said, that the levels of human — animal conflict had also gone up. The government’s response was to strengthen insurance schemes for losses.
In response to a question from The Hindu Ms. Nandi-Ndaitwah said the government was keen on conservation, but continued to seek investment from China and India, in both mining and tourism. It has signed the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing with communities for use of genetic resources and will ratify it when legislation is passed soon.