You don’t have to be rich to help out in conservation. That’s the message from Carlo Josupeit, who is a ‘WWF Protector’. That’s the title given to donors who give at least 100 Euros annually, because they want to make a difference. “You have to decide where to leave tracks in life,” says Carlo, who has left his own tracks, first as a Grund und Haupschul Lehrer in Deutch und Geographie, then as a small farmer is Spain, and latterly as a Weldbummler in his retirement.
Carlo’s latest trip was to Namibia. He was new to Africa and he wanted to get off the beaten track. KAZA had been in the news, and he wondered just what Africa’s largest conservation area would look like on the ground.
The idea of a huge area dedicated to nature seemed very attractive. Carlo had seen it in Sri-Lanka, where humans and wildlife seem to co-exist without problems high up in the tea plantation area. Drivers of the local tik-tiks report seeing leopards on a daily basis, and the roads are closed for elephants to cross at night.
Could it happen in Africa? KAZA consists of communal farm land and state parks in five countries centred around Namibia, and the big hope is that fencing will be removed and wildlife corridors established so that animals may roam freely. Income form tourism will improve people’s lives and, crucially, help pay for community game guards who will assist government rangers to protect wildlife from poachers.
The transfrontier area is still in its infancy: it was only established last August. There are no signs saying ‘Welcome to KAZA”, so how do you plan a visit? In the future, tour operators are likely to put together multi-country visits; for example, both sides of the Victoria Falls as well as the Caprivi area. Carlo headed for Namibia to see what he could find, and was lucky enough, through a WWF aquaintance, to be invited to a Symposium on Wild Dogs: the very first KAZA activity, planned by WWF in Namibia with input from experts in all five KAZA countries.
The Symposium was held at Mahangu Safari Lodge in Namibia’s Kavango Region, by the Okavango River which flows majestically from Angola to Botswana, and the Okavango Delta. Taking part were conservation scientists who had studied wild dogs for decades, and who were best placed to suggest the conservation needs of wild dogs in the KAZA landscape.
As an observer, said Carlo, he could “only support and admire the lead role WWF played in the meeting. It was good to see how organizations were brought together cost effectively to find common approaches to problems.”
A key issue that came out of the Symposium was traffic. Wild dogs are often killed on the road. The Symposium considered solutions including road signs and speed controls, and co-planning with government when new roads are built.
Carlo remembered Sri-Lanka, where the roads are closed at night for the elephants. And then he was off to Etosha National Park as an ordinary tourist, to see the elephants there, leaving the scientists to return to their own countries and continue their work.