We have writtenabout Phineas’ involvement and central role in the Lion Ranger program on numerous occasions. He is a critical member of our team as well as an important and respected teacher in the field. It is so inspiring to see that he is still pursuing his own training after all these years!
Across the Kunene Region teams of Conservancy Game Guards, Lion Rangers, MET Staff, IRDNC staff, and dozens of unpaid volunteers fanned-out over 72 hours for the annual full moon waterhole counts. The purpose of this program is to survey the area’s population of desert-adapted elephants. This year particularly emphasized the subpopulation in the Ehirovipuka, Omatendeka, and Ozondundu conservancies along the western escarpment.
Not only are the full moon counts a great chance to check-in on the area’s elephant population, they serve as an important time to engage with effected communities to ensure proper human-elephant conflict mitigation and prevention programs are in-place. Keenly aware of the challenges of human-elephant conflict, and deeply engaged in the lives of effected communities, the Lion Rangers were an integral part of providing ongoing training to community members about counting protocol and elephant safety. These practices demonstrate effective community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) in action. Thanks so much to all who were involved in the roll-out and to the NACSO Natural Resources Working Group for supporting the program.
Over the past three days we were joined at our Wereldsend (World’s-End) base camp by members of NACSO (Namibia Association of CBNRM Support Organizations), the Namibia Development Fund, and the Kunene Regional Communal Conservation Association (KRCCA) for a wide-ranging workshop on issues of governance and capacity-development in the northern Kunene conservancies.
Issues of particular interest were the funding made available from the Green Climate Fund for combating possible climate change challenges in the northern Kunene and the importance of growing conservancy capacity for interacting with government. NACSO encouraged conservancies to band-together under conservancy organizations to submit proposals to buttress infrastructure and develop livestock husbandry techniques that will be more resilient under uncertain climate regimes. Governance engagement was covered by Theo of the Namibia Development Fund who emphasized the importance of effective communication between communities and government to implement needed policy changes.
At the workshop John presented the progress of the Lion Ranger program within the focal lion-range conservancies. This presentation was a follow-up to one given to the KRCCA in July of last year. The primary purpose of the presentation was to provide an update on progress in mitigating and preventing human-lion conflict and ensure that the community remains informed about relevant lion issues. It was heartening to hear the positive feedback from attendees about the progress that is already being made.
Thanks to NACSO for organizing the conference, and for the Wereldsend Staff, Wandi Tsanes, John Steenkamp, Alfeus Ouseb, and Leonard Steenkamp for their hospitality.