The Bamunu Conservancy, some 65 kilometres west of Katima Mulilo in the Chinchimane area of the Sibbinda Constituency has become the latest conservancy to be proclaimed bringing the number of conservancies in the region to fourteen.
Even though the conservancy was initiated and formed in 2003, it was only officially opened on Sunday by Colga Sikopo, the Director of Parks in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism on behalf of the Minister of Environment and Tourism Uahekua Herunga. The conservancy, which boasts abundant wildlife, borders the Mudumu and Nkasa Lupala national parks as well as Botswana in the south.
Speaking on behalf of the minister Sikopo said communal conservancies have resulted in an increase in wildlife populations, which in turn has benefited communities through what is known as community-based natural resource management (CBNRM). “Through the communal conservancy programme, rural Namibians have gained rights over wildlife and tourism and are generating income from the sustainable use of wildlife. Due to the commitment shown by Namibians, there has been a remarkable recovery and increase in wildlife populations,” said Sikopo.
According to Sikopo, given the abundance of both flora and fauna in the Zambezi Region, the community-based natural resources management approach encompasses not only the establishment of conservancies, but also other tourism business ventures such as community forests in efforts aimed at reducing abject poverty among communities. “CBNRM approaches are also being developed in other sectors, for example community forests, which focus more on woodland resources and aim at promoting the wise use and management of plant resources available to rural communities,” Sikopo said.
|Fast facts about Bamunu Conservancy:|
|Location||65 km west of Katima Mulilo, Namibia|
|Number of conservancies in Zambezi Region||14|
|Official opening date||8th September 2013|
|Who opened the conservancy||Colga Sikopo, Director of Parks|
|Number of registered conservancies in Namibia||79|
Sikopo also revealed that the allocated annual trophy hunting quota for the Bamunu conservancy for this year includes three elephants, one kudu, two warthogs, two duikers, six buffaloes, eight bush pigs, one crocodile, three hippos, two reedbuck and one waterbuck. He further announced that conservancies have been bestowed with the responsibility of supporting traditional authorities with game meat during traditional festivals instead of sourcing meat from the national parks.
Although communities continue to benefit from wildlife conservation, human/wildlife conflict is a predicament many communities continue to face, with unprecedented destruction of both crop fields and property and even loss of lives a common occurrence.
Sikopo could not specify what interventions the ministry has devised, only saying conservancies form part of such strategies. “Innovative mechanisms are being created to reduce the level of human/wildlife conflict to ensure that benefits of conservation management far outweigh the costs. Formation of conservancies is one such mechanism and we are today moving in the right direction.”
Sikopo also warned conservancies that continue to misappropriate monies meant for the community to desist from such tendencies, adding that the ministry is ready to bring culprits to order. He further called on members of conservancies to remain united and to avoid infighting for the common good. “At times the ministry receives complaints of misappropriating conservancy property and finances. I want to send a strong warning to those individuals who harbour the ambition of corruption, mismanagement and maladministration of resources that the ministry will leave no stone unturned to bring these individuals to order. The conservancies are not a tool to divide people along political, racial or ethnic lines, but a vehicle towards economic emancipation.”
The Governor of the Zambezi Region also hailed the community-based natural resource management programme saying such initiatives have benefited the rural poor and Namibia’s conservation efforts. “Through the community-based natural resource management programme, Namibia is able to restore, secure and enhance the biodiversity and ecosystem processes that support sustainable benefits to conservancies.
The CBNRM programme has made a significant contribution to poverty alleviation and rural development in the Zambezi Region and will continue to do so in future,” the governor said in a speech delivered on his behalf by Sibbinda Constituency Councillor, Ignatius Chunga.
The Bamunu conservancy has a membership exceeding one thousand people. Despite its growth and a significant reduction in poaching activities since its inception, the conservancy faces challenges such as poor roads, particularly for trophy hunters, lack of water points for wildlife, as well as electricity, according to its chairperson, Francis Simenda. There are currently 79 registered conservancies in Namibia.
Date: 12 September 2013