The success of conservation in Namibia, could not have been written without the help of the communities in these areas. Explore the Community conservation areas and witness as people try and reach a balance with the natural world around them.
The concept of formal community-based conservation is not unique to Namibia. A variety of models have been tried in numerous African countries, and other parts of the world. Due partly to Namibia’s small human population and its low agricultural potential, as well as legislation that empowers people and generates direct benefits for them, community conservation has been uniquely successful here. Wildlife has become a valuable addition to agriculture and provides tangible incentives for conservation.
Communal conservancies are a social construct - a group of people have agreed to collaborate to manage the wildlife and other natural resources of their land. The borders of that land are unfenced but clearly defined, agreed upon with neighbouring communities. Once mandatory obligations have been met - a constitution, an elected committee, a management plan etc. – the conservancy is officially registered by the MET through the government gazette.
More than 80 communal conservancies are dotted around Namibia. They cover over 162,000 square kilometres, which is almost 20 percent of the country. Their sizes range from less than 50 to over 9,000 square kilometres and they have fundamentally different resources and human populations. Their landscapes vary from floodplains and rivers in the north-east to the rocky plains of the Nama Karoo in the south. Some are home to a great diversity of wildlife including elephants, rhinos and lions, others have only a few antelopes. Conservancies thus have disparate potential. As they are run by local people, who might have had limited access to education and have diverging personal aspirations, the management success of conservancies may also differ considerably.
In the Erongo and Kunene Regions of the arid north-west, and the Omaheke and Otjozondjupa Regions of the east, adjoining conservancies create some of the largest contiguous conservation landscapes in the country, where the land is mostly unfenced and wildlife can roam.
TRAVEL TIPS - COMMUNITY CONSERVATION AREAS:
WHEN TO BE THERE:
• There are community conservation areas in many parts of Namibia
• Rainfall and other conditions vary considerably across these areas
• The cool, dry winter months are generally most popular for travelling
• The rainy season can create difficult travelling conditions in some parts
WHAT TO DO:
• Visit local conservancy offices to get an understanding of community conservation activities
• Visit cultural villages & buy local crafts; get an insight into the lives of local people
• Enjoy great wildlife viewing and stunning scenery
• Revel in the freedom of vast tracts of unfenced land where people live with wildlife
WHAT TO REMEMBER:
• Community conservation areas are not national parks but communal farmland
• Always respect the rights & customs of local people, you are their guest
• Do not enter villages or homesteads without permission
• No off-road driving; camping only where approved by local communities
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