On 10 November 2016, the Namib conference room at the Safari Hotel was filled with Members of Parliament (MPs) from the National Assembly and National Council, Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) representatives, five conservancy representatives and NGOs, which attended the first Namibian Conservation Parliamentary Caucus (NACOPAC) forum on wildlife management.
NACOPAC was officially launched on 15 March 2016 and is a team of parliamentarians committed to strengthening conservation governance and sustainable economic development in Namibia and the region. The caucus is supported by the International Conservation Caucus Foundation (ICCF) which is an international conservation organisation. ICCF is an umbrella organisation that works with the caucus, its role is to provide tools to help build the caucus and facilitate engagement with legislators around the world. ICCF provides technical support and additional resources to support local initiatives to elevate laws and policy, and build the capacity of judicial, prosecutorial and law enforcement officials to combat wildlife crime.
Challenges such as human-wildlife conflict and poaching continue to threaten conservation efforts in Namibia. The meeting was an information session to brief the members and different stakeholders on the conservation status in Namibia and on the Namibian Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) programme through presentations and discussions.
The attendees were greatly impressed with the presentations made by Uibasen Twyfelfontein conservancy manager, Joglinde Touros, and Bamunu conservancy advisor, John Mwilima on successes and challenges in conservancies in the Kunene and Zambezi region. The Parliamentarians were fully engaged throughout the different sessions and highly appreciated all the presentations and discussions by the different stakeholders.
The meeting aimed at identifying the role of NACOPAC in strengthening and implementing wildlife conservation laws and policies while looking into the social aspect of these policies. By understanding conservation and wildlife management issues, the parliamentarians are able to elect competent bodies within parliament to deal with these. At the end of the meeting members successfully came up with numerous recommendations on the way forward to ensure the future success of the caucus. The members enthusiastically vowed to continuously raise public discourse and awareness and advocate for good wildlife management in Namibia.