Namibia is well known as a fantastic destination. And, wIldlife serves as a vital heritage in Africa. Sadly, COVID-19 eats into wildlife management resources through a devastating impact on tourism. Notably, Namibia’s communal game conservancies experience hard times.
Namibia – the COVID-19 impact on conservation
Namibia boasts 86 communal conservancies run by members of the local community. Importantly, the proceeds from tourism and strict management of hunting permits provide income to local people. Additionally, the tourism income ensures community protection of the animals from poachers.
COVID-19 travel restrictions and fears now start shutting down the only income sources for 86 communities, bringing hunger and hardship. Sadly, the country works very hard with education about the protection of wildlife. But, hardship might reverse all their progress so far.
Namibia reported minimal COVID-19 cases
Sparsely populated by 2.5 million citizens, Namibia’s COVID-19 peaked in mid-August. Interestingly, their COVID cases to date register at 10 thousand with 116 deaths. Moreover, the government lifted travel restrictions and opened borders effectively on Friday 18th September. Worryingly, tourism bookings remain stagnant. Comparatively, 2019 saw an inflow of 1.7 million tourists providing over US$ 6 million toward conservancies and salaries.
Importantly, poaching decreased by 60% in 2019. Together, Namibia and UNDP worked on law enforcement with tougher fines and sentencing. Additionally, the UNDP provides training in land management and fire equipment. Undoubtedly, the lack of tourism funding is a threat to this. Fortunately, UNDP is continuing to assist the communities through the provision of finances for anti-poaching and salaries but, ultimately, tourism needs to kick in soon to ensure continuity.
Namibian case-study demonstrates that a locally devised rhino monitoring regime + tourism partnerships empower local communities to implement rhino mgmt strategies that align individual values with the long-term health of #rhinos. #WorldRhinoDay #ConSocSci https://t.co/G8li5ZPG4p pic.twitter.com/17ElwjZ9nj
— SCB Social Science Working Group (@SCB_SSWG) September 22, 2020
According to UN News on 19 September, the Nambian UNDP Resident Representative, Alka Bhatia, says “The conservancies are one of the biggest tent poles holding up the national economy. If they fall, then a lot more will collapse around them.”
Human and wildlife co-existence
Interestingly, Namibia appears to have created the ideal co-existence between humans and wildlife. Additionally, communities such as the Himba tribespeople live alongside lion, cheetahs, hyenas, zebra, elephant, and rhino.
Furthermore, COVID-19 has opened the world’s eyes to the damaging impact humans have on the environment. Ideally, co-existence of this nature should be encouraged and emulated throughout the world.