Habitat and wildlife are critical resources that contribute to the economic and social wellbeing of communities and nations. For that reason, communities need to conserve their natural resources and unlock the value of wildlife by building a ‘Wildlife Economy’. One way of doing this is through the new Wildlife Credits scheme which is an innovative way for conservancies to attain an additional income stream to tourism and conservation hunting.
The Wildlife Credits scheme rewards communities for protecting wildlife and creates opportunities for smart conservation where wildlife thrives and people’s livelihoods are improved. The scheme creates direct incentives to keep wildlife on the land by providing performance payments to communities actively protecting and conserving wildlife and its habitat.
Performance payments are made to communal conservancies based upon the expansion of range and populations of wildlife, the protection of wildlife corridors and dispersal areas, and the communities’ efforts in combatting poaching. The payments received by Wildlife Credits are used by conservancies to support wildlife management and protection by reducing human-wildlife conflict; for household compensation for damages caused by wildlife such as damage to water infrastructure, loss of crops and loss of livestock; and tolerance of living with problematic wildlife on communal land where funds received can be paid out directly to farmers.
In Sobbe conservancy, which is situated in the Zambezi region within the KAZA landscape, conservation hunting is currently the only income stream. Through the Wildlife Credits scheme, the conservancy is able to diversify their income by protecting an important wildlife corridor for elephants. To verify the protection of the corridor for wildlife movements, satellite images were compared and no change in land use patterns were detected such as new crop fields or kraals within the corridor. With the use of georeferenced camera trap photos which were set up by Lise Hanssen of the Kwando Carnivore Project, there was evidence of the corridor being used by elephants. From the verification data, it was construed that Sobbe Conservancy is successfully managing their wildlife corridor and will in turn receive funds, which will be used to develop the conservancy either in the form of social development projects or for human wildlife conflict mitigation.
At Grootberg lodge, which is in situated in ≠Khoadi-//Hôas conservancy in the Kunene region, the scheme started in 2014 and was called the Predator Fund where the lodge deposited N$ 25.00 per sighting of one of the iconic wildlife species- elephants, rhinos and lions during each game drive. The account is managed by both the conservancy and Journeys Namibia, the private sector tourism partner. In 2016, NACSO saw the potential in the fund and committed to match it with double or triple the N$ 25.00 per sighting based on the type of species. The fund grew to N$ 229,000 by 2018, which could be termed as the year of ‘double trouble’ in terms of human wildlife conflict in the North-west of Namibia. Amid the high human wildlife conflict, ≠Khoadi-//Hôas Conservancy used the funds to build a dam, elephant protection wall and tank at Farm Mooiport; and kraals at Marinhohe, Quivades, and Rodeon. Kraals at Nugas and Leeukp post are still to be constructed.
The move towards a Wildlife Economy will bring better livelihoods to people through conserving animals and their habitats. Wildlife Credits is a valuable addition to income from tourism and conservation hunting in changing the way the Namibia’s nature-based economy is managed. The great thing about the scheme is that credit can be given by tourists, conservationists, NGOs, businesses, and governments. Visit www.wildlifecredits.com for more information. Whether you’re in Namibia or in another country, wildlife belongs to us all, and we can all give wildlife a chance by becoming a supporter.
Namibia is due to introduce a levy on plastic bags in an effort to reduce plastic pollution. It will have a long way to go in order to catch up with European countries, where glass bottles are the norm, and are taken back to the shops for re-use. That's the notion behind zero-waste shopping, now available in Windhoek.
Meanwhile, imagine a tropical paradise, but with tons of plastic washed up on the beach. What worries environmentalists is not just the pollution on the beach, but all of the plastic that sank at sea, harming marine live and ultimately humans. To return to Namibia, plasic bags are not only an eyesore: they are a hazard to wildlife and livestock., and drinking from plastic bottles may come with a health risk.
Please have a look at the Environment Watch link below for many articles on environmental problems and solutions.