The morning of September 26 saw Ministry of Environment and Tourism regional support staff and CBNRM cadres sitting attentively in the community hall of the #Khoadi- //Hôas conservancy in Kunene region. The team was ready to discuss how to approach wildlife quota setting in Kunene, Erongo and North central conservancies. These quotas will be set for three years with effect from 2017 and caution needs to be taken to ensure wildlife numbers are not affected negatively. Kunene has shown a downward trend in wildlife numbers for the past three years, and therefore requires extra attention to avoid further declines, or worse, local extinctions.
Wildlife utilisation provides income to pay for game guard salaries and provides benefits such as meat to local communities who live with and bear the cost of wildlife on their land. It is a means of eradicating poverty and diversifying people’s livelihoods. In Namibia, wildlife utilisation is guided by a very conservative quota setting process where scientific data plays a critical role, but in which communities also have a say in the quotas set. Variables such as drought, wildlife status, trends within conservancies and their neighbouring areas are considered when determining offtake rates. The Ministry and other stakeholders help lead the discussions and negotiations with communities to ensure quota requests are realistic and sustainable. This is a democratic process but one that is guided by science and local knowledge.
The team considered that communities need to be reminded of the drought situation in the country, and to be assisted in understanding the current threats to wildlife utilisation and how unrealistic quotas would aggravate the situation. The current hunting debates and Namibia’s reputation for sustainable utilization must constantly remind us to be vigilant and willing to adapt, based on what our monitoring systems are telling us. This will not take away people’s rights and benefits, but will ensure sustainable utilization in our conservancies, says Rehabeam Erki, Chief control warden of the north central area. The quota setting process is set to take place in conservancies during the first two weeks of October in the three regions.