Namibia Seeking Innovative Solutions to Human-Wildlife Conflict


Arguably one of Namibia's greatest assets is its wildlife, which together with the uniquely stunning countryside, is the center of a booming tourism industry. But human-wildlife conflict is rife within the country, and needs to be urgently addressed. 

In an effort to reduce this conflict, Namibia is in the process of putting forward a proposal for innovative solutions to the human-wildlife conflict problem that it plans to submit to the Green Climate Fund in the hopes of obtaining funding to support the project, the minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, revealed while addressing the 25th annual International Day for Biodiversity, which was recently held at Khorixas.

Shifeta explained that some of the key drivers of human-wildlife conflict include competition for vital resources such as water and land for grazing, which was further exacerbated by drought. 

"With climate change we are anticipating that droughts will become more severe and frequent. This will bring wildlife and humans into even closer contact in the future," said Shifeta.

He explained that while the proposal was still in the development stage, his ministry is continuing to do whatever they can to come up with practical solutions to tackle this ongoing problem. The ministry plans on hosting a 3-day conference where the theme will be "Innovative Strategies Peaceful Co-existence with Endangered Wildlife," which will bring together delegates from various environmental education institutions to discuss the issue and hopefully come up with creative and practical solutions to the challenge.

Shifeta said that last month Bersig, located in the Kunene Region, installed three predator proof livestock enclosures as well as a predator warning system. He said he was very pleased that the focus for International Day for Biodiversity this year centered around practical ways to conserve biodiversity. 

"It is only through learning what biodiversity entails at platform such as this that we will truly understand the importance of its protection both for us and the future generations," he said.

According to Shifeta, Namibia is one of just a handful of countries in the world, possibly the only one, who's entire coastline is protected under national park status. Around 45% of land in the country is protected by conservation efforts, and it is home to the world's largest trans-frontier protected area — the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area.

"In terms of protecting marine biodiversity we established a marine protected area in 2009 and most recently we have identified seven ecologically or biologically significant areas (EBSAs) in the marine environment which will be earmarked for special protection measures," he added.

Namibia takes the conservation of its natural assets seriously, and it is encouraging to see the government playing a pro-active role in trying to address this important conservation challenge. A positive practical solution that benefits local communities, wildlife, and ultimately tourists and the tourism industry would mean a win-win all around. To achieve this, stakeholders need to get creative and come up with innovative solutions that address some of the key issues that are driving the conflict.