Omaheke Conservancies Game Guards: Developing Skills and Competencies for Effective Wildlife and Natural Resources Management
Participants from the Communal Conservancies Game Guard Training in Tallismanus, Otjombinde Conservancy
The Namibia Nature Foundation (NNF) in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, with support from the U.S Embassy through its Small Grants Programme, recently concluded a three-day training workshop for a total of 21 conservancy game guards in Tallismanus, a small settlement in the Otjombinde constituency.
The workshop was aimed at developing skills and competencies of the Eiseb, Omuramba ua Mbinda and Otjombinde conservancy game guards, as well as to advance their roles and functions, to best capacitate them in performing dual functions as full Resource Monitors. Camping equipment including tents, mattresses, sleeping bags, flashlights, binoculars, cameras and GPS devices were some of the items that were handed over to the participants after the training to support their activities around their conservancies, with funding from the U.S Embassy. Game Guards play a major role in the effective management and safeguarding of conservancy natural resources, including forest products, Devils Claw and wildlife. They are also entrusted with a great responsibility of implementing the event book system in their respective conservancies. The Event Book contains all the information regarding game in a conservancy as gathered by the game guards and is used for decision making by the Conservancy Management Committee and/or other Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) support bodies for implementing conservation strategies.
In addition to the event book system, the game guards were also trained on three Unit Standards (NACSO Unit Standards for Game Guards). The Unit Standards assists with implementing the event book system primarily on wildlife management. Senior Game Guard from the Eiseb Conservancy, Mr Uaekua Hange, said “the training was an eye opener, I learned so much about our conservancy that I did not know before. With this valuable training and support, we now have the courage to go motivate other game guards not to give up in volunteering their time to safeguard the valuable resources of our conservancy.”
NNF CBNRM Project Coordinator for Omaheke, Mr Nabot Mbeeli, said “the training workshop has successfully reached its objective in developing practical skills and exchanging ideas and expertise between the participants from the different conservancies, as this was a first of its kind. There was a lot of field experience at the workshop with some of the participants having 10 years’ experience in being community game guards, and this served as a good platform to use real and practical examples during the training to learn from each other.”
The conservancies of Eiseb, Omuramba ua Mbinda and Otjombinde were gazetted between 2009 and 2011. Apart from efforts by the Namibia Nature Foundation in 2014 & 2015 and now more recently in 2018, these areas have received little support. Currently the NNF is embarking on a two-year project to support Devils Claw harvesting in these conservancies as a means of promoting self- employment and safeguarding this resource. The US Embassy has availed US$ 25 000 through its Small Grants Programme to support the NNF in diversifying its activities around Devils Claw harvesting and to provide support to game guards and conservancy managers through trainings, workshops and equipment.
In the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA), freshwater fish is an important source of protein in the daily lives of rural people. However, an increase in the human population and the commercialization of fishing have led to a dramatic decrease in freshwater fish stocks. As a result, the amount of fish available for household consumption has become severely limited.
In response to this problem, fish reserves were established, enabling communities to have devolved rights and to manage their protected fishing areas.
At the heart of the achievements of the fish reserves are people like Salvation Matengu Ntelamo, who turned the fish reserves and fisheries project into what it is today: a conservation success story.
Ntelamo comes from the beautiful Impalila Island in the Zambezi region of Namibia. Impalila is a tourist attraction area with a big baobab tree, from the top of which one can see the confluence of four of the KAZA countries – Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Ntelamo comes from a family of six, from the Subia tribe. She grew up watching her mother cook, clean, take care of her and her siblings and make traditional craft items, while her father went to work every day. Ntelamo remembers her childhood with a smile, and says they were a happy family. Today, she is married and a mother to two girls, and the family enjoys going for long walks and jogs.
Over the years, women’s roles have changed. Ntelamo no longer only takes care of her family like her mother did but is also expected to provide for her household together with her husband.
She works for the Namibia Nature Foundation (NNF) as a Project Coordinator, acting as a link between communities; fish guards (who play an important role as stewards, to control and protect the channels from illegal fishing); and the Namibian Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR). Ntelamo assists communities to establish committees and set up fisheries reserves and provides guidance on how fish stocks and fish markets can be monitored, and the fish reserves can be made relevant within communities.
“Generally, conservation is a man-dominated field. When I started my role, I wondered, ‘How I will cope in this man’s world?’ To my surprise, it was different from what I expected. My fellow field colleagues, all being men, never underestimated me nor undermined my capabilities as a woman. They treated me the same. The communities also respected me and my capacity to deliver,” she says. “I see this as something very beautiful and also empowering – that communities and the world have realised the important role that we women play not only to our families, but also to the development of our country. We women can be homemakers and still be providers.”
She adds that working at the NNF has given her an opportunity to grow, to become an expert in her field, to be empowered and to empower others.
“Each day is different, and each day I get to learn something new. With every concern raised by the communities, I always ask myself: ‘How can I assist? And how can we as NNF support them to change the challenges into opportunities?’ This always encourages and motivates me to do better.”
Commenting on the project, she explains that there are currently two gazetted fish reserves, the Kalimbeza Channel of the Sikunga Conservancy and Kasaya Channel of the Impalila Conservancy. She adds that five new fisheries reserves from the Lusese and Nakabolelwa conservancies are expected to be gazetted soon. “This is another beautiful achievement, and I am excited for this project and our community.”
Following the establishment of the fisheries reserves, the Community Conservation Fisheries in KAZA Project has found that fish stocks are slowly recovering to their previous numbers, and illegal fishing has reduced. Through fish reserves, communities now benefit from having more fish for their own consumption and their natural heritage. In areas like Impalila, tourists also come to catch the famous tiger fish, which has enabled local communities to generate an income from it.
Ntelamo’s message is that communities need to take pride in what they have and conserve it as a common resource. She urges communities and partners to get involved, as there are different ways to support the project and to combat wildlife crime.
This PRIDE story is made possible by the support of the American People through the VukaNow activity of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and Ford Wildlife Foundation. The contents are the sole responsibility of the NNF and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.