The cost of lions in Zambezi
It was the middle of the night when farmer Dominic Machili heard the dogs barking near the cattle kraal. He ran out with a friend who had a gun, fearful of another lion attack. Last week lions took three of his cattle. The kraal, a ring of thorny Acacia karoo, was not enough to keep the predator out. It had broken through a thin section and dragged a cow away into the bush. A warning shot fired by the farmer was not in time. Machili had lost another cow. As if the tragedy of losing four of his livestock was not enough, the rains have come too late to Ibeza village, close to the Botswana border post, and to the whole of the region. Many people have only just started to plough – three months late. The chance of a harvest is slim, and the chance that elephants will take the little maize that is grown is significant. Hunger is a real possibility, and with no cattle to sell, food will be harder to buy.
Ibeza village is in Salambala Conservancy, one of fifteen communal conservancies in the region, which have added trophy hunting and tourism to the rural economic mix, previously reliant upon agriculture alone. Salambala earns a considerable sum from trophy hunting. Last year 6 elephants were on the quota issued by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.
If that sounds harsh, conservancy manager Boniface Saisai spells out the facts. There is no shortage of elephants in the area. Namibia is home to 20,000 of them. The giants so loved by tourists attack villages and raid crops. By allowing trophy hunting, the conservancy earned almost a million Namibia dollars from elephants alone last year, money that is invested in conservation. Salambala employs 20 game guards who prevent illegal hunting. The income is also used for community projects such as wells and water pumps. Meat derived from trophy hunting and a quota for ‘own use’ hunting is another valuable source of income for conservancy residents. Last year 3 buffalo were part of the hunting quota and another was harvested for meat. Buffalos often raid crops, for which there is no compensation.
But the conservancy does compensate residents for crop losses to elephants and livestock loss to predators through a self-reliance scheme initiated by the environment ministry. The scheme started off with the government giving every conservancy N$60,000 from the Game Product Trust Fund, which is income from trophy hunting. This money should be matched by conservancies, which Salambala is able and willing to do. Farmer Machili could be paid N$1,500 for each of the cows he lost. But to be compensated, a farmer must prove that he took reasonable precautions to protect his cattle. The incident must be reported to the conservancy within 24 hours, and a game guard has to verify the incident using an event book. The guard will examine the kraal, check the tracks, and make a report.
Martin Nandu is Salambala’s chief game guard. When he visited the scene things were pretty clear. He could see where the lion had dragged the kill into the bush. The hide and some intestines of the cow were still there. The lion had retreated after the shot had been fired, and had rested in the sand, possibly planning to return. The print of the body, and even the tail, was fresh and clear on the ground. Beyond were the bushes where the lion had hidden, waiting for its chance. Just four kilometres away is Botswana’s Chobe National Park. It is easy for lions to leave the park during the dry season and follow the buffalo to pools close to farms where they drink, and even easier to attack the cattle. One solution is better kraals. Several were built last year in other areas of Zambezi, with money from the Kwando Carnivore Project, but ultimately the farmers themselves will have to take the initiative. Game guard Martin Nandu advises on kraal construction, but says that farmers are slow to change their habits. The recent lion attacks might help them to think differently, before it is too late.
1 February 2016» See more news items and press releases.
What is NACSO?
The Namibian Association of Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) Support Organisations (NACSO) is an association comprising 9 Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) and the University of Namibia. The purpose of NACSO is to provide quality services to rural communities seeking to manage and utilise their natural resources in a sustainable manner.
The philosophy of forming NACSO was to harness the wide range of skills available in Government, NGOs and the University into a complementary nation-wide CBNRM support service. The rationale behind this is that it is unlikely that any single institution houses all of the skills, resources and capacity to provide community organisations with the multi-disciplinary assistance that is required to develop the broad range of CBNRM initiatives taking place in Namibia. These skills could include advice on governance and institutional issues, on natural resources management and assistance with financial and business planning.
The NACSO concept was conceived in 1996 under the title of Communal Area Resource Management Support (CARMS).
However, it was not until August 1998, when a meeting of CBNRM support organisations was convened, that the CBNRM partners began seriously developing the NACSO concept. In September 1999 the CBNRM partners approved the constitution for the CBNRM Association of Namibia (CAN), and the CBNRM Association gained legal status. However, in February 2001 CAN was required to change its name to NACSO because the Cancer Association of Namibia, also with the acronym of CAN, justifiably complained that two organisations in Namibia should not be operating under the same name.
The important work carried out by NACSO on rural development projects, in conjunction with NGOs such as IRDNC, Namibia Nature Foundation, NDT and international associate member WWF continues today.
The constitution comprises 14 sections in which NACSO's formation, operations, procedures and membership are defined, and it is provided in full here. An introductory paragraph and section 1 describe the broad structure and objectives, whilst the aims, objective and functions are listed in section 2. The 12 objectives mainly concern the promotion and development of CBNRM, and the 8 functions illustrate the activities NACSO may undertake.
In sections 3, 4 and 5 the organisation, the founding membership and the rules for representation on NACSO are given. The powers and functions of the organisation, in supporting the objectives, are given in section 6. The functions of the Management Committee and Working Groups, and the Secretariat are described in sections 7 and 8 respectively. The procedures for grant management, conducting meetings, and financial management are given in section 9, 10 and 11. In the final 3 sections dispute resolution procedures, dissolution and constitutional amendments are specified.
Policy and legislative basis of CBNRM in Namibia
Since independence in 1990, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) has pursued a legislative policy to support the introduction and development of Communal Area Conservancies and this led to the creation of NACSO. The following policies and legislation have been enacted to support the Conservancy programme.
These policies and the accompanying legislation have supported a nation-wide conservation and development movement so that, by 2014, less than 20 years after the first conservancy was gazetted, there were 82 registered conservancies, a similar community association operating in a national park and over 30 community forests, which together cover almost 20% of Namibia. While government has passed many new policies and legislation since independence, few if any, have had the marked impact this MET programme is having.
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