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"Conservancies: Integrating Wildlife Land-Use Options
into the Livelihood, Development, and Conservation Strategies
of Namibian Communities"

Chris Weaver

Namibia is a large, sparsely populated southern Africa country. Since its independence in 1990, the Government of the Republic of Namibia (GRN) has introduced an innovative conservancy formation strategy that has engaged more than 150,000 rural communal area residents in a national conservation movement. The passage of the conservancy legislation in 1996 has resulted with the registration of 29 communal conservancies, which encompass more than 74,000 km2 of wildlife habitat. Seventeen of these conservancies are immediately adjacent to state protected areas, and cumulatively, increase the buffer and corridor areas around and between the existing protected areas by more than 42%. The groundswell of support for conservancies is being generated by an escalating flow of benefits that has doubled during three of the past four years, reaching more than US$1.1 million in 2002. The conservancy movement has markedly changed the attitudes of communal area residents, and communities are now integrating wildlife and tourism enterprises into their livelihood strategies. As a consequence, land-use patterns across Namibia’s arid and semi-arid communal areas are changing towards more environmentally appropriate and sustainable forms of game production, which concomitantly, enhances the viability of Namibia’s extensive protected area network. Though conservancies are already producing significant environmental, social and economic gains, it is believed that most of today’s highly successful conservancies (i.e., the Nyae Nyae Conservancy) still have massive upside potential to increase income and benefits to their membership. However, in order to capitalize on such conservancies’ growing populations of rare and valuable game, there is a need to address veterinary concerns and restrictions that severely inhibit the ability of conservancies north of Namibia’s veterinary “Red Line” to market their valuable game resources.


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Biography for
Chris Weaver

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