Private sector wildlife conservation in Africa

Elephants on Ndarakwai RanchOne of the hopeful developments in Africa has been the growth of private sector conservation initiatives. Most of it has taken place in South Africa. For an example in Tanzania, visit the Ndarakwai Ranch.

The ranch is located on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. The owners set up the Kilimanjaro Conservancy to maintain a wildlife conservation area.

Somehow elephants seem much larger when you are walking close to them, than when you are sitting watching them from a 4-weel drive vehicle. Ndarakwai is well worth a visit.

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3 thoughts on “Private sector wildlife conservation in Africa

  1. The other manifestation of this kind of private conservation happens on communal area conservancies in Namibia The enabling legislation was promulgated in 1996 giving those living on state-owned land the opportunity to manage and benefit from wildlife resources if they were able to meet the conditions for establishing their own conservancies. I studied this process while on a Fulbright in Namibia in 1997 and was employed by an association of Namibian government ministries, private NGOs and their donor netowrks to assist the people of the Grootberg area in Kunene province establish their own conservancy. The result, #Khoadi //Hoas, or “Elephant’s Corner”, has been a resounding success, both in terms of conservation and sustainable rural livelihoods. A websearch of this name, perhaps without the Damara-language clicks, may prove of additional interest.

  2. What set of skills were required to set up the conservancy? Which of these skills were available in the local community at the beginning of the project, and which ones had to be developed? How was the development done?

  3. Great questions. The first communal area conservancies to emerge in Namibia in 1997-1998 were, with one exception, heavily reliant on the skills and expertise of local NGOs. The exception was #Khoadi //Hoas, because those folks did not suffer fools gladly and rather than have their agenda donor driven, they were willing to go it alone. My wife and I lived with them and played the role of community facilitators /insitutional organizers, and took pains to avoid creating dependency on our services. The clear success of this conservancy is gratifying to us and perhaps also indicates that we were ourselves successful in making us irrelevant to their long-term sustainability.

    The Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) has a great deal of information, case studies, etc. relating to communal area conservancy development and capacities. I highly recommend any analysis done by Caroline Ashley for MET or others.

    The process of conservancy formation at #Khoadi //Hoas was highly participatory, and our major role was to help the newly elected Conservancy executive committee navigate the requirements of formal recognition, process locally-derrived information, and design strategies that would address their needs and concerns. It was a vital roel, and we trained our replacements from among local residents, who now manage and facilitate conservancy activities on their own. We brought conflict resolution and interractive problem-solving skills to the table, and they brought a detailed understanding of the problems and prirorities of the residents of the area (350,000 hectares in size).

    There were issues of new structures competing with traditional authority, and of younger, lower power people (women, 20-30 year old English speakers) gaining power and traditionally high power people having to find ways to respond and adapt to that.

    There were challenges in negotiating conservancy boundaries with neighbors, who were also forming their own conservancies and wanted the same, wildlife rich areas.

    There were logistical problems, such as how to effectively cover and serve over 115 scattered settlements and 3,000 residents in such a vast territory. The solution elected by #Khoadi //Hoas was to create 8 “Environmental Shepherds”, whose duties were more than just to serve as community game guards but rather to take an integrated approach to land management and respoinding to local needs. The legislation enabling communal area conservancies in Namibia was limited to wildlife resources, but #Khoadi //Hoas understood that the need to manage grazing, settlement, and water resources was vitally important. When an elephant pulls down the infrastructure for a water pump, it is a problem for more than one government agency as well as for the users of this resource. #Khoadi //Hoas established an Emergency Elephant damage Fund with the proceeds from its tourism consessions to provide a measure of security of those who lost access to water, crops, livestock, or very rarely life and limb due to conflict with resident desert adapted elephants. One measure of the quality and capacity of the conservancy today is that they were chosen to receive two wild black rhinos as part of a reintroduction program by the Namibian government.

    There is lot’s more we could talk about on this topic. Feel free to contact me directly.

    Best wishes,

    Tim Abbott

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