A group of South African delegates from various governmental conservation organizations; Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, South African National Parks, South Africa National Botanical Institute, and iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority, visited Namibian communal communities in Zambezi region in what was termed as the “south-south knowledge exchange mission” between the two countries.
The aim of the visit was for the South African delegates to gain firsthand experience on important elements related to the biodiversity economy, planning of the protected areas and coordination between transboundary conservation areas such as the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA).
The four-day visit included a workshop with officials from Namibian Association of CBNRM Support Organizations, Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation, and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, who set the scene with a series of presentations about the overview of CBNRM programmme in Namibia.
The South Africans were particularly interested in the structures that support the programme, the working relationship models that exist arrangements that enable Namibian communities to manage their natural resources while benefiting from them.
The conservancy management committees and staff members in the Zambezi region shared some of their activities and strengths, such as the wildlife corridors in Sobbe, fish reserve project in Sikunga, joint venture tourism in Mashi, human-wildlife conflict and landscape management in Bamunu and conservation hunting and benefit distribution by the Kyaramacan Association whose members live within the Bwabwata national park.
The conservancies also spoke about the challenges that come with managing natural resources. “We are the communities who live with wildlife. The competition for natural resources between us and the wild animals has increased, and more so now with the persistent drought, every day is a struggle.” Said Jomo Muvera, Chairperson of the Kyaramacan Association.
“It is quite delighting to see that it is possible to live in a national park and co-exist with wildlife. I believe that for conservation to succeed in the 21st century, communities need to be involved.” Said Sibusiso Bukhosini, CEO of iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority. The delegation left the region enriched and with new ideas that they look forward to implementing in their country.
“Let us go back home and expose our communities to the benefits of conservation and let the technical people also learn from the communities. We also need to engage with the traditional authorities and make them aware about conservation.” Said Bukhosini.