We mourn the loss of our colleague and friend, Greenwell Matongo, who died tragically in a vehicle accident on 5 October 2017.
Greenwell joined WWF in July 2009 and worked for the organisation for nearly 8 years, supporting NACSO partners and conservancies. He was responsible for supporting game utilisation in the conservancy programme. This was demanding work, involving a great deal of travel and time away from home and family.
His work was invaluable to the CBNRM programme, advising on quotas, negotiating contracts, managing and defusing conflicts, and facilitating partnerships between conservancies and the private sector.
He was a kind cheerful man, but was also tough and had the highest integrity. He was extremely calm under pressure and was always looking for a win-win outcome. He stood up to hunting operators and conservancies time and time again and could not be bullied. Lesser men could easily have been corrupted during this process, but Greenwell was incorruptible. He would defuse a tense situation with a joke and a laugh.
During his time at WWF Greenwell helped develop a world-class quota setting system for game management and utilisation which is admired worldwide. He set up contracts that generated more than N$140 million in trophy hunting income for communal conservancies. His efforts also helped to provide 3 million kg of meat to poor communities in the communal areas – that’s about 8 million servings of meat. As Greenwell used to say “you know how us Namibians like meat.”
These were huge contributions to Namibian Society, and in particular, the poor.
Greenwell was also a scientist. One of his international scientific papers was just last month quoted at the United Nations.
When he left WWF and NACSO to return to the MET, we were sad to lose him, but we were also happy for him to go to MET, because he was needed in government. Greenwell was destined to do even greater things for the country. His tragic loss is huge. Everybody admired him: his colleagues in the MET as well as his colleagues in WWF and NASCO, Namibian communities, and even the toughest professional hunters.
Greenwell was a giant in Namibian conservation, yet he was still young. We will work to continue what Greenwell started because that is what he wanted – he worked tiressly so that poor Namibians in communal areas could benefit from their wildlife heritage. He dedicated his working life to this goal, and he wanted all of us in conservation NGOs and the MET to work together to achieve this goal. We will do this in his memory.
Greenwell Matongo leaves a wife and two children. Our thoughts are with them.