One of the fundamental documents required for conservancies to operate is the Game Management and Utilization Plan (GMUP), as stipulated in the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism’s (MEFT) Guidelines for Management of Conservancies and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). The GMUP spells out the conservancy’s vision with regards to the management and utilization of natural resources in the area.
A national assessment on the conservancy GMUPs was conducted in 2018 with recommendations to review and update all the conservancy’s GMUPs and align them with the MEFT requirements as outlined in the SOPs. A template for developing and updating GMUPs was therefore developed in 2019. The document contains management objectives and strategies, zonation plans, estimates and trends of wildlife populations, quota utilization and harvesting controls, Human-Wildlife Conflict Management plans, tourism development plans as well as work plans with specific actions to safeguard wildlife in line with the management objectives and strategies. Having an up-to-date and well aligned GMUP allows conservancies to sustainably utilize and manage wildlife while meeting relevant SOP compliance requirements.
The support to Community-Based Natural Resources Management Project implemented by MEFT and the Deutsche Gesellschaft Für Internationale Zusammenartbeit GmbH (GIZ) commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), in consultation with the Namibia Nature Foundation and Logos Consulting conducted and facilitated the development and updating of GMUPs for 7 conservancies namely Puros, Otjikondavirongo and Otjiu-West in the Kunene Region; Kapinga Kamwalye in the Kavango East; Maurus Nekaro in the Kavango West Regions; Sheya Shuushona in the Omusati Region and Okongo conservancy in the Ohangwena Region.
This activity occurred between August and October 2020 with full adherence to Covid-19 guidelines. The process began with training of trainers attended by 63 participants including relevant MEFT and NGO regional staff as well as conservancy representatives, followed by consultations with conservancy management committees (CMCs) and conservancy members. The trained MEFT and NGO personnel also participated in community consultations as part of their on-the-job training on how to facilitate the process. The trained personnel are expected to render similar training to their colleagues in other regions and assist them to provide such services to conservancies with support from the MEFT headquarters on a need basis.
Some key experiences and lessons learned from the process were: 1) bringing together key stakeholders, including conservancy representatives for the planning sessions adds value to the actual development of GMUPs as all stakeholders become well-informed on the purpose and process. 2) Traditional Authorities and Community Land Boards are a crucial stakeholder in the implementation of GMUPs as they authorize the allocation of land in conservancies. If they become partners in the process, it makes it easier to promote the acceptance of GMUPs in conservancies and the adherence thereto.
It was agreed that peer-to-peer exchanges between conservancies on the implementation of GMUPs should be encouraged and facilitated, and GMUP related topics should be mainstreamed in the Annual Adaptive Management meetings and other relevant conservancy platforms.