This past weekend at Wereldsend saw the First Annual Grassroots Owen-Smith Community Ranger Awards (GOSCARs). Generously supported by the Namibia Chamber of Environment, these awards, to honor the memory of the late Garth Owen-Smith, recognize and celebrate the local conservationists who work and walk in the field to ensure the future of Namibia’s natural resources. Honorees exemplify the original concept with which Namibia’s internationally-recognized community-based natural resource management program started: hard work, dedication, and a commitment to unifying rural livelihoods and wildlife conservation.
The Lion Rangers program was eager to nominate our own Rodney Tjavara, who works with Tourism Supporting Conservation (TOSCO), for this prestigious award. We are overjoyed that Rodney’s years of hard work have been recognized by Namibia’s wider conservation community.
Yesterday a large and diverse group paid tribute to IRDNC founder, committed conservationist, and hero to many Garth Owen-Smith at Wereldsend. Said TOSCO founder and Lion Ranger program coordinator Felix Vallat, “It was sincere, moving, inspiring…a perfect between Himba traditional funerals and a western one. Garth left a big space for us to grow and bloom, which we will!” The ceremony brought together people from across Namibia and the thoughts and prayers of a world of partners who could not return due to travel restrictions. There were private planes and traditional Himba marches, headmen from the north and local friends, hunters and wildlife advocates, a truly cross-cultural crowd of partners, all of whom were inspired by Garth’s message and commitment to making the world a better place.
On 11 April, 2020, Garth Owen-Smith, co-founder of Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC), and the widely-regarded ‘father’ of Namibia conservation passed-away peacefully. Garth dedicated his life to advocating for Namibia’s wildlife and wild places. His commitment to community-based natural resource management (CBNRM), was on-display throughout a career spanning six decades, which he primarily spent in northwest Namibia. His loss is felt keenly by all who work to maintain wildlife conservation in Namibia.