WINDHOEK, NOV 1 – The Nyae Nyae Conservancy and Community Forest (NNCCF) was one of the first registered conservancies in Namibia, and is considered to be an essential hub for Wildlife Conservation in southern Africa. The monitoring of wildlife is the responsibility of the conservancies under the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT).
In the Nyae Nyae Conservancy, this is done through daily patrols, and annual wildlife counts. Annual game counts are key for wildlife management and form the basis for informed decision making and adaptive management.
In 2020 and 2021, the COVID pandemic impacted the conservancies, particularly with regard to income opportunities. This in turn has affected their ability to fund wildlife monitoring and conservation activities. The IUCN Save Our Species African Wildlife Initiative, co-funded by the European Union, has financially assisted NNCCF to carry out activities related to wildlife conservation during this difficult time. The initiative contributed to the salaries of the community rangers, provided new uniforms and binoculars for the community rangers. It also facilitated the full moon game count that was done in 2020, and the line transect game count that was recently conducted in September.
The line transect game count method has been developed for Namibian conservancies, and has been implemented in the NNCCF area since 2017. It helps monitor wildlife in a simple yet scientifically sound way.
In particular the method aims to: Establish long-term wildlife trends and give an indication as to whether wildlife management goals are achieved; Estimate population numbers to ensure sustainable utilization through MEFT quota settings.
• Provide indications regarding animal distribution in space and time which helps facilitate the appropriate land use zonation.
The line transect game count is an ambitious exercise every year. The NNCCF covers an area of close to 1 000 000 hectares. The 2021 line transect game count was done over a period of 12 days, and approximately 130 transects were walked during this count. The game count involved 50 people, 6 vehicles, and covered a total distance of 1700 km. Nineteen (19) species were recorded during the line transect count, and the results showed that a healthy wildlife population has been maintained. Which is very welcome news.
This achievement is even more meaningful considering all the challenges of the past two years, and underlines the commitment of the Ju/’hoansi bushmen to conservation.
The ecological and economical value of natural resources is the foundation on which conservancies are built. The sustainable management and conservation of wildlife benefits the Ju/’hoansi Bushmen of the Nyae Nyae Conservancy in the short, medium and long term. Support from the IUCN Save Our Species African Wildlife Initiative, co-funded by the European Union, has made an invaluable contribution to this. – NDN Staffer