Anabeb conservancy, situated in Kunene region, is surrounded by mountains with beautiful shades of brown and sparse mopane trees, but due to the lack of rain over the past few years the area is dry and dusty.
Over the years, game guards have done a remarkable job in natural resource monitoring which has led to locals having a clearer understanding of the resources in their area and how to best manage and utilise these in a sustainable manner. The Ministry of Environment and Tourism as well as CBNRM support organisations conduct training courses that are crucial in enhancing the skills of game guards.
A CBNRM Game Guard Recognition System was initiated in 2014 to recognize and reward game guard's efforts and skills. the recognition system is an internal process to assess game guards in eight competencies. The competnecies which are successfully completed are recorded on a certificate with a date and stamp. the game guards who demonstrate the required competencies are eligible to receive a certificate of recognition. From the above process the CBNRM programme requested NACSO to look into the possiblity of registering this qualification with the National Training Authority for a national accreditation for game guards.
The game guard training process began with training in conservancies on the eight proposed unit standards. Ministry staff and CBNRM support NGOs train the game guards on the different unit standards. After the training of a theme has completed and the game guard has had the opportunity to use this training in the field, then an assessment is carried out to identify whether the candidate meets the requirements of the unit standard. In Anabeb conservancy, Cliff Tjikundi from Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC) was the trainer and Karen Nott from the NACSO Natural Resources Working Group carried out a trial assessment on Unit Standard 4. The assessment questions were translated into the local language, Otjiherero, to avoid language barriers.
At the conservancy office, Pineas Kasaona who’s been a game guard for 9 years, knows the zonations of the conservancy and the area where he usually patrols. He went to school up to form 4 (grade 10). Despite his limited education, Pineas is knowledgeable about the environment and uses the event book monitoring system as one of the tools for natural resource management in the conservancy.
As a game guard, his key roles are to conduct patrols and raise awareness about wildlife in the area. He stresses the importance of awareness because, as he says: “Knowledge is power, which leads to people making the right decisions”.
Pineas was, and is still a farmer. Before becoming a game guard, he hated predators, especially lions, because they are the source of most human wildlife conflict in the area. But since the formation of the conservancy, and after the awareness campaigns on the importance of wildlife, he understands the significant role predators play in the environment.
Poaching incidents over the years have decreased in communal conservancies due to joint patrols between the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, CBNRM support organisations and conservancies. “Our patrols help to counter poaching in the area. The community never knows where we are, but they constantly see fresh tracks and poachers retreat because they are not sure whether we are in the area or not. Even when they see the conservancy vehicle they are cautious about doing any illegal activities”, says Pineas.
Nature conservation is important to Pineas because he understands the dynamics of it and the benefits everyone derives from a well-balanced environment. He is one of the Anabeb game guards participating in the Game Guard Accreditation process. Accreditation may mean two things for these guards: acknowledgement for the work they’ve achieved, and a certificate to show competency to potential employers. Starting the course at the age of 58, the certificate is not something Pineas needs for the future, but he is doing it as a means of gaining more knowledge. “Age is not on my side, but I am willing to transfer my knowledge to younger people who are interested in nature.”