The son of a wildlife poacher turned protector, John Kasaona is a new breed of conservationists: one that understands the past, works tirelessly in the present and is excited to inspire the future generation of conservationists.
Under South African rule, wildlife numbers in Namibia shrank dramatically. After independence, the Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC) turned to local communities - like John's - to become the custodians of wildlife . They asked the village heads, "Who in the community knows the bush and the animals of the bush the best?" The answer was simple, "Our poachers. Like Sageus Kasoaona." That was John's father.
Instead of shooting and killing poachers like elsewhere in Africa, the IRDNC was helping villages reclaim their ability to manage people and their right to own and manage wildlife. Poachers now became game guards and helped to monitor and protect wildlife. As these communities renewed their connection to nature, wildelife prospered.
In Africa we say ‘God gave the white man a watch and gave the black man time.’ The story of community conservation in Namibia is a long one, not easily told in a few minutes or one or two pages of a magazine – but let me try to at least tell you a part of my story…