The Covid-19 pandemic has touched all parts the globe, including limiting incomes to northwest Namibia conservancy residents. Beginning in March, staff at tourist accommodations and working for touring companies were sent home, with little certainty about when they will return to work. This dramatic and unexpected hit to local incomes immediately began affecting livelihoods and eroding people’s savings. Many parents rely on schools to provide their children with meals during the school year – the closure of schools is exacerbating food insecurity.
Conservation of wildlife cannot take place when people cannot meet their basic needs. Alongside IRDNC staff, and with support from TOSCO, and Oliver Adolph and Family, the Lion Rangers have been helping to distribute food relief in the southern Kunene Region. This past week Lead Field Assistant Jendery Tsaneb helped spearhead relief to affect farmers and community members. Packages of mealie paap, pasta, soup packets, oil, sugar, and tea were loaded on to trucks and delivered to meet the greatest needs.
Moving far from our base at Wereldsend into the field also provided an extra opportunity for patrol – to see how wildlife is coping in places that we infrequently visit.
The Covid-19 pandemic is transforming the world and community-based lion conservation is no exception. The coming months and years will provide new and unforeseen challenges. Luckily, a strong team of conservationists in northwest Namibia is ready to pull together. Thanks to Torra Conservancy leaders such as Mr. Henri Mapanka, and IRDNC field personnel Alfeus Ouseb and Wandi Tsanes for donating their time and efforts to help make this much-needed operation a success. As working partners with local communities it is incumbent upon all of us to pitch in where we can. Though we do not know when this crisis will end, the foundations of community conservation – communication, trust, fellowship, and shared purpose – serve all of us in times of need.