Namibian communities rely on hunting to protect wildlife

EXTRACT FROM THE FOLLOWING THIRD PARTY SOURCE: Written by: Ellaine Smit for the Namibian Sun

While anti-hunting groups have been calling for a ban on hunting in African countries and even petitioned airlines to stop transporting wildlife trophies, Namibian conservancies feel that these groups do not know what benefits trophy hunting holds for communities and how it will impact them if hunting is banned.

©Janine Avery

©Janine Avery

The chairperson of the Shambala Conservancy, Botha Sibungo, says that anti-hunting groups will have to pay conservancies the money they lose should hunting be banned, so that they can still be sustainable.

Hunting represents the main income for most conservancies in Namibia and without it they will not be able to survive. Although conservancies are also involved with other activities that are tourism-based, trophy hunting generally generates the main income from which conservancies pay operating expenses and generate benefits for their members.

Hunting also mitigates wildlife conflict, which is a huge problem for these communities, and poaching has also decreased.

The Shambala Conservancy for instance, has about 6,000 registered members, employees and at least 20 game guards. It receives the majority of its income from hunting with a total of 61% in 2014 and 33% that came from combined tourism returns. Another 5% came from other returns. This means that during 2014 an amount of N$1.9 million was generated through hunting.

“It would be unfair to ban hunting because we are managing our wildlife in a sustainable manner and people are benefitting from it. Whoever brings the ban must pay, so that we are then still able to manage our resources,” Sibungo said.

He added that if hunting is banned, the natural resources will die within a month because people will no longer protect them without any benefits for them. According to him the only option will be to bring more tourism into the conservancy to generate more income for the conservancy to survive, but he said this will take time.

©Janine Avery

©Janine Avery

Meanwhile the technical advisor from the Bamunu Conservancy, John Musa Mwilima, said that their priority is to conserve the animals. The Bamunu Conservancy’s only source of income is from hunting and since 2011 when it was gazetted, until last year, the conservancy has made N$31.1 million from hunting. Last year alone it made N$8.5 million from hunting.

Mwilima said that before the conservancy was gazetted in 2011, subsistence poaching within the conservancy was very high. It then introduced a professional hunter to operate in the conservancy and since then there has been barely any poaching as members have started to see the benefits from protecting wildlife. “If hunting is stopped, we will see an increase of poaching again.”

©Janine Avery

©Janine Avery

The conservancy has about 1,600 members that benefit from the income generated, with 50 staff members – of which 7 are game guards. Mwilima said discussions have been held to introduce other alternatives such as lodges as another source of income. This, however, will take time to introduce.

The chairperson of the Mayuni Conservancy, Patrick Mulatehi, said that they have about 3,000 members and that hunting is one of their main activities and provides the main source of income to the conservancy. He said that 65% of the income is generated from hunting while the other 45% comes from joint venture lodges and campsites. According to him this amounted to N$475,000 generated by hunting last year and N$325,000 from lodges and campsites. The conservancy employs about 24 staff members.

“Without hunting there will be no conservancy. It is the main income of the conservancy. There will be a serious drop in our income if hunting is banned. Trophy hunting helps us with mitigating wildlife conflict and brings in money for the communities; it reduces poverty. It would be a very bad idea to ban trophy hunting.”



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