When Namibia gained its independence in 1990, there were many wounds to heal and issues to address. From poverty alleviation to government institutions to language and education, the country was deeply involved in the basics of ‘nation building.’ But Namibians didn’t fight long and hard for their Independence without a deep respect for the future – and this includes respect for and protection of the environment. Namibia was the first African country – and indeed one of the first countries in the world – to make protection of the environment a key part of its constitution. Namibia’s progressive conservation policies don’t stop at the top; they include other policies that involve local people in the protection of the land, wildlife and other natural resources.
People are living with wildlife, including predators and large mammals, and are managing their natural resources wisely. They are also reaping the benefits. In 2009, community-based natural resource management generated over N$ 42 million in income to rural Namibians. All the while, the program is facilitating a remarkable recovery of wildlife.
A recent article by NPR in the U.S. offered this analogy, "It's as though the U.S. government said to the people who live around Yellowstone National Park, You know what? All those wild animals in the park — the grizzlies, the bison, the wolves — they belong to you." - Christopher Joyce, NPR
Human-wildlife conflict has become a common problem in most southern African countries. Beginning tomorrow, conservationists Ian McCallum and Ian Michler will undertake a long journey through six Southern Africa Development Community countries to highlight the success and failures of the human-animal interface across the region. Namibia has taken a leadership role when it comes to creating effective policies for managing human-wildlife conflict. According to McCallum, ""Namibia is regarded as a conservation success of SADC, because of organisations such as the IRDNC."
To learn more about Namibia's innovative approach to conservation visit http://www.namibiatourism.com.na/conservation/