Martha Lambert is a farmer and game guard from //Audi Conservancy in the Kunene region. She has been working as a conservancy game guard for almost 14 years now.
“I grew up here and I have seen the changes that the programme has brought, that is why in 2006 I decided to become an active member of the conservancy as a game guard, to protect our natural resources, including wildlife,” she says.
The conservancy is located north west of the country with a semi-arid to arid environment. Although extremely dry and only receives periodic rainfall, the conservancy hosts a variety of wildlife species such as kudu, mountain zebra, gemsbok, black-backed, jackal springbok, steenbok cheetah and leopard.
“When I was growing up, I used to see a lot of wildlife in our area, but their numbers have reduced due to poaching and drought over the years.” As a game guard, her job involves conducting patrols in the conservancy and keeping track of natural resource incidences such as wildlife sightings, mortalities and human wildlife conflict in her event book.
//Audi is one of the conservancies that does not generate cash income and therefore does not have resources to cover its essential operations as well as staff and committee member salaries. “We do this voluntarily and cannot afford to buy ourselves uniforms. My income comes from farming small livestock-goats, which I sometimes take with in the field to go grazing and look after them while on duty.”
Martha describes her day in the field as hectic but also fulfilling, “after doing some morning house chores, I take a cup of tea and start walking in the field at around 9 am, sometimes 10. Even though she and the other game guards do not get a monthly salary, she does her work with pride. “Walking around in the field, seeing wildlife and the beautiful landscapes makes my day. It is so quite out there, the only thing you hear is birds singing,” says Martha with a grin on her face.
“I used to do patrols with my normal shoes but they quickly get worn out, so I have decided to buy myself the veld skoene (locally made leather shoes) which are also about to get worn out because of walking on rocky surfaces, climbing mountains and walking through thick bushes, “says Martha.
Martha mentions that not having a uniform also makes it difficult for her and the rest of the game guards to approach and confront people who are engaged in illegal activities. “I love my job, but I think having a uniform with strong shoes and a hat would make our work much easier. If possible, we would also appreciate if we can get a salary.”