Over three days we were joined at World’s End by representatives from the German development bank KfW, GIZ – who consults the Namibian government, WWF-Namibia, and staff from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET). The topic of our extended discussion was how to unify approaches to human-wildlife conflict in northwest Namibia, with particular emphasis on integrating the Lion Rangers and early-warning systems. Following on the heels of an extended MET review of infrastructure needs to address human-wildlife conflict, the whole group focused on aligning resources to serve the needs of Kunene communities. Surveys from core lion-range conservancies clarified the scope of the challenge faced by rural communities. Due to the recent drought, many conservancy residents are suffering from decreased livestock herds; oftentimes affecting households at an order of magnitude greater the annual income.
Russell Vinjevold of IRDNC and Richard Diggle of WWF-Namibia spearheaded the workshop. Russell chaired a morning session which gave an extended overview of the northwest lion population’s history, ecology, composition, and movements. It is always instructive to fully communicate the uniqueness of the desert-adapted lions to folks who are unable to be extensively deployed in the field. Richard Diggle highlighted the need for innovating new ways that communities can benefit (not just suffer) from living with lions. This spurred far-reaching and thoughtful discussion. The possibility of communities receiving direct benefits for lion presence within conservancies was discussed at some length. Really creative and exciting ideas were put forward!
An afternoon took the group into the field to see the recently-erected and operational early-warning towers at Driefonteine. Russell explained the functioning of the system to the group and we had a chance to discuss the hopes for the system with Driefonteine’s farmers.
Thanks to WWF-Namibia, GIZ, and MET for organizing the workshop. It was so valuable to get the insights of our friends at KfW and GIZ – who have rich international experience across a variety of human-wildlife settings. We look forward to working with them in the future.