Imagine that before you went outside into your garden you had to check if there was a lion prowling or an elephant on the loose; or you were a farmer, and had lost your crops or livestock to crop raiders or predators.
For thousands of years humans have lived with wildlife, often in fear of it. Our ancestors hunted wildlife in order to survive, and since the domestication of animals for farming, predators and crop raiders have represented a constant danger to livestock, to humans, and to the farming economy.
Nevertheless, rural farmers in Namibian conservancies have continued to value and conserve wildlife, not only as an economic resource, vital for tourism and hunting, but also as part of the African way of life – our common heritage.
In Namibia, we give credit where it's due, for example to farmers and other rural people who live with wildlife on their doorsteps. Many Namibian rural communities have formed conservancies not only to manage and benefit from wildlife, but also to protect and conserve it as part of their heritage and way of life.
Elina Karutjaiva is a typical farmer in Namibia’s arid north-west, who has lost countless goats to predators; but she says "When I see an elephant or a rhino I may be scared and run, but sometimes I check the wind, and if they can’t smell me I stand silently and watch them. I want my children to see wildlife."
Over the years there has been major progress in incentivising Namibians to adopt wildlife as a land use. This has primarily been built on the back of trophy hunting and tourism. But the former is highly unpopular in certain quarters, and the latter is simply not viable in all landscapes.
Have we reached the end-point or can improvements be made? Have we maximised the opportunities? Have we truly covered the costs of living with wildlife – particularly those that conflict with people, such as elephant and large predators?
Our love of wildlife is tempered by respect, and knowledge of the costs of living with wild animals. Wildlife Credits helps to maintain the balance between humans and wildlife.