The human story

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.

Read more stories:

Amarula and Wildlife Credits join forces

Amarula is joining forces with Wildlife Credits, an innovative conservation initiative that rewards communities who are actively protecting and conserving wildlife and its habitat.

Wildlife Credits offsets livestock lost to lions

Communal farmers in Tsiseb Conservancy who recently lost livestock due to lions gathered at Brandberg White Lady Lodge in September 2018 for the introduction of the new Wildlife Credits Scheme in the area.

“How can we save lions?”

As a former chief guide and now assistant lodge manager, Mesag Saal knows a lot about lions. He still takes tourists on game drives, and one of the questions they ask him is “How can we save lions?” Mesag has a simple answer.

Elina, wildlife and stones

Okambora is a dry, stony patch of ground in Sesfontein Conservancy. Goats nibble at the vegetation. At night, a leopard may come in search of one of them. Elina looks around as the sun sets, and smiles. Despite the hardship of farming, she loves this place.

Elephants: a large problem

Laurencius likes elephants as much as the tourists do, but not in his garden where he grows apples and oranges, and even has a banana tree.

Living with lions: benefits and costs

Lions and other wildlife bring Ally an income as a tour guide. But lions also take livestock from his farm. It’s a common story in areas of Namibia where the lion population has grown substantially in the last two decades, thanks to conservation.

Sharing water with elephants

Elephants can drink 200 litres of water a day. To get it they will rip up pipes, break concrete dams, and destroy water pumps. Erenst’s farm has been overrun by thirsty elephants: he's interested in anything that protects farms whilst preserving wildlife.

The pros and cons of living with lions

As a waiter at Hobatere Lodge Nicodemus loves meeting people. On the farm, his family has lost several cattle to lions. But lions, elephants and other problem animals are what visitors want to see, and they provide a living to waiters, tour guides, cooks and cleaners.

The elephants are coming

Who would have thought that vuvuzelas could still come in handy? Daniel Kabala is happy he still has one to blast on. Not for football; but because it keeps the elephants away from the village maize fields. Elephants just hate vuvuzelas!

A little chilli with your maize cob?

Cosmos Kakwenga has many mouths to feed, and his maize harvest is crucial. To keep elephants away from his crops, he places chilli bombs around the field and lays glowing coals on each one. For hours they give off a pungent smell.

Almost half of Namibia under conservation

For visitors to Namibia, seeing large animals like elephants, giraffes and rhinos in their natural environment - often outside the national parks - is an experience not to be missed. For residents, living with wildlife is easier said than done.

The human cost of living with wildlife

Hippos often come to graze on freshly growing maize. One night Farmer Zatrick Mbanga was out checking his crop. He lit a fire to deter the hippos, but as he was walking home a hippo attacked him. He lost an arm and a foot.