Building on Success
With a Constitution that enshrines the protection of wildlife and legislation that empowers local communities, Namibia has become a global example for linking communities, conservation and tourism through its communal conservancy programme.
There are 86 registered conservancies in Namibia, and one in four rural Namibians lives in a conservancy where they are partners in conservation and community development.
Until now, two main income streams have helped to balance the cost of wildlife to communities:
- Lodges and tourism: In Namibia’s communal conservancies, the private sector forms partnership with conservancies to build and operate lodges and tourism operations. They provide jobs and training to community members, while the income from these joint ventures is used to pay for conservation activities such as anti-poaching patrols, and for benefits to local communities.
- Conservation hunting: Legal hunting of wildlife according to strict quotas set by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism is used to conserve species by providing an economic incentive to keep wildlife on the land. Hunting provides an income in areas where tourism and agriculture are not economically viable. The result has been the recovery of wildlife in the communal areas.
However, for conservation to endure and species to thrive, we need bold new ideas that create solutions, which allow Africans to capitalise and protect their competitive advantage in the world – their wildlife.
Wildlife Credits is one of these solutions. It unlocks the value of wildlife and provides an important additional income stream, which allows wildlife to pay for itself on communal lands.
Wildlife Credits: The approach
Wildlife Credits generates funds from local, national, and international sources based on independently verified conservation performance by communal conservancies. This additional income stream is a joint venture between conservancies, tour operators, conservation groups and the international community, raising funds for wildlife and habitat from conservation performance payments. The first phase of Wildlife Credits has begun in Namibia, based on monitoring sightings of iconic wildlife species at tourist lodges.
Namibia's community conservation successes
Community conservation encompasses over 166,000 km2, about 20% of Namibia, and around 238,000 residents. In 2021, it generated about N$91 million for local communities, and facilitated 3,548 jobs through enterprises including tourism, conservation hunting, indigenous plant harvesting and craft production.
For more information visit the Community Conservation website.
Monitoring wildlife sightings of iconic species
As the number of independently verified sightings of iconic species increases, so do the payments made towards the conservation of those species to the communtities protecting them.
Monitoring breeding successes of iconic species
As the independently verified breeding success of iconic species increases, so do the payments made towards the conservation of those species to the communtities protecting them.
Monitoring management and performance of land used by wildlife
As the independently verified management successes of landscapes and corridors increase, more payments are made directly to communities that have set aside the land for wildlife use.
Lodges participating in Wildlife Credits pay a fixed amount for each sighting of iconic species on game drives.
The programme leverages a secured, contractual payment at a national level in Namibia to match each sighting.
Sponsors of Wildlife Credits worldwide are invited and encouraged to add to the national payment.
The funds generated by conservation performance are paid into individual accounts established by Local Conservation Areas for specified wildlife species. The accounts are managed by local trustees made up from representatives of the conservancy and a private sector joint venture tourism partner, or alternatively a local conservation NGO active in the conservancy. A conservancy and its partner have equal voting rights and signing powers on the account.
The trustees allocate the funds, based on local level priorities for the specified wildlife. The following activities will be considered for funding:
Wildlife management and protection
Activities focus on reducing conflicts between people and wildlife, protecting wildlife, and preventing poaching.
Household damage offset claims
Damage caused by wildlife can have severe effects on rural households, such as damage to water infrastructure, loss of income from crops due to crop raiders, loss of livestock to predators, injuries and loss of life.
Wildlife monitoring and research
Activities provide estimates of wildlife population trends and movements, with targeted research providing additional and specific information that can prevent human wildlife conflict.
Tolerance of wildlife on communal land
There are opportunity costs of living with wildlife too. For example, wildlife occupies land and grazing that people could otherwise use solely for agriculture, and predators hunt wildlife that would otherwise provide food and income.
Species supported by Wildlife Credits are those that cause problems or costs to conservancies, are iconic and sometimes endangered. Wildlife Credits payments to local communities can be used to protect crops and livestock from the losses these species cause, and to pay compensation for losses. The increased flow of money into the community can also enable development benefits.