The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that 13 communal conservancies in the Kavango East and Zambezi regions are benefiting from various interventions stemming from the Sustainable Wildlife Management Community Conservancy Project (SWM-CC) launched last year as part of the SWM programme.
The program, led by FAO in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, aims to address threats such as unsustainable levels of wildlife hunting, habitat closures and fragmentation that prevent animals from accessing the resources they require to survive, as well as animal poaching due to human-wildlife conflict.
The World Wildlife Fund Namibia, the environment ministry, the Centre for International Forestry Research, the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development and the Wildlife Conservation Society are providing technical support to the project.
FAO Namibia, in a statement released last week, quoted its field assistant coordinator under the SWM programme Manon Mispiatceguy as saying: “The SWM-CC project is seeking to reconcile the challenges of wildlife conservation with those of food security in a set of key socio-ecosystems, including forests, wetlands and the savannah.”
She said the project has so far implemented a wide range of activities aimed at promoting the sustainable and legal exploitation of resilient animal populations by indigenous rural populations while increasing and diversifying the protein supply for the benefit of rural and urban populations.
FAO said through the project’s interventions, 75 women received training on poultry production across targeted community conservancies, with the top 30 participants identified set to receive further training and capacity building this year.
Plans are also underway to support selected farmers to improve small-scale horticulture production through innovative and organic approaches in the target community conservancies.
The SWM-CC project also seeks to identify and address issues relating to the lack of market access for small-scale farmers, who produce livestock, poultry and horticulture products to promote food and nutrition security and the sustainable consumption of wild meat.
The project’s other key interventions are aimed at the sustainable management of wildlife species such as the construction of crocodile enclosures and lion-proof kraals in Bamunu and Wuparo community conservancies spearheaded by Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation.
FAO said most of these predator-proof kraals were set-up in the Kwando Wildlife Dispersal Areas. The kraals were constructed in partnership with local livestock farmers at Kwando to protect livestock, mostly cattle, in human-wildlife conflict hotspots.
Farmers provided all the poles needed for constructing the kraals, while the respective conservancies and the SWM-cc project provided the fencing, equipment, skilled labour and training.
“By supporting farmers’ involvement in the construction process, the farmer becomes more invested in the upkeep and long-term maintenance of the kraal,” says Pauline Lindeque, the wildlife and landscape programme director at World Wildlife Fund Namibia.
According to her, the most significant impact of the lion-proof kraals is evident in three conservancies that were hotspots of human-wildlife conflict, namely: Kabulabula, Nakabolelwa and Salambala, where attacks on livestock by lions have declined by 90-98%.
Lindeque highlighted that the strategic placement of crocodile fences in sections of the river where people and livestock access water has greatly improved safety by reducing incidents of human-wildlife conflict.
“Crocodiles regularly account for a loss of life or injury of humans, as well as livestock. This particular intervention is trying to mitigate these destructive incidents,” she said.
The SWM-CC project activities form part of the 3,5 million euro project by the French Development Agency channelled through the SWM-cc to improve sustainable wildlife management and food security in the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area in Namibia and Botswana.