Namibia: Ministry of Environment and Tourism

Location
NAMIBIA

Summary

Location: Many of Namibia's national parks (all black rhinos in Namibia are state owned)
Programme leader: Pierre du Preez
Programme partner: Ministry of Environment and Tourism
Rhino species: Black rhino (Diceros bicornis bicornis) and Southern white rhino (Ceratotherium simum simum)
Activities: Translocations, community conservation programmes, anti-poaching and monitoring, wildlife-based tourism development
Support: Translocating rhinos from the Kunene Region to other National Parks and communal conservancies, as part of an ongoing biological management programme
Funding partners: Opel Zoo, USFWS

Introduction

Vet Mark Jago prepares a tranquilised rhino for being crated, craned and translocated to a new location in NamibiaCredit: MET

The Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) was established in 1990 and is responsible for the safeguarding Namibia’s environmental resources. MET has ever since began to implement far-reaching policy and legislation reforms within the environmental sphere in an attempt to alleviate many of the constraints that the environment place upon people and vice versa.  These reforms were also aimed at encouraging the various innovative collaborative partnerships between key players in the environmental field, such as various Ministries with environmental interests within their areas of jurisdiction, non-governmental organisations, community-based organisations and donor agencies of various countries.

The mission of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism is to maintain and rehabilitate essential ecological processes and life-supported life-support systems, to conserve biological diversity and to ensure that the utilization of natural resources is sustainable for the benefit of all Namibians, both present and future, as well as the international community, as provided for in the Constitution.

Programme manager

Pierre du Preez (National Rhino Coordinator)

Location

National Parks and community conservancies across Namibia.

Species / population size

Namibia has a total of 1,750 South Western black rhino (D.b. bicornis) and 469 Southern white rhino. Please note that individual population sizes are confidential.

Habitat

Namibia holds about 28% of Africa’s black rhinos and is the stronghold of the South Western subspecies (Diceros bicornis bicornis). With more than 91% of the total population of this taxon found in Namibia (primarily in Etosha National Park, Waterberg Plateau Park and in the Kunene Region), and rhino numbers increasing steadily under a well-established and innovative conservation and management programme, the future of the South Western black rhino will depend on Namibia’s ability to maintain adequate standards of protection (given the poaching crisis), management, monitoring and sustainable utilisation of rhinos, and to expand available areas of range to accommodate further population increase.

Primary activity

Namibia’s Black Rhinoceros Conservation Strategy concentrates on maximizing population growth rates through biological management and range expansion. Its vision is that by 2030, the subspecies D. b. bicornis is re-established in viable, healthy breeding populations throughout its former range, and is sustainably utilized; and the overall goal is a commitment to collectively manage the black rhinos of Namibia as a metapopulation, increasing by at least 5% per year. The Strategy’s overall objectives are as follows:

  1. Expansion of range: The range area for D. b. bicornis in Namibia is significantly increased
  2. Biological management: The black rhino metapopulation is actively and adaptively managed to achieve sustained and unrestricted growth
  3. Protection and law enforcement: Losses of black rhinos due to illegal killing, and levels of human-induced disturbance are minimized
  4. Support and incentives: Support (political and public) and incentives for black rhino conservation are in place and fostered
  5. Coordination and collaboration: Coordination and collaboration for management of black rhinos by all stakeholders are secured
  6. Policy and legislative framework: An enabling policy and legislative framework is in place and implemented

Research

Details not known, but there will be lots! All research permit requests, for work in Namibia by overseas students, have to be authorized by the Ministry.

Training

MET carries out regular ranger training exercises. SRI recently coordinated funding for Scene-of-the-crime training courses for staff from MET, NGOs, private custodians and community conservancies.

Education

Through visitor information centres in national parks.

Community

Namibia, and MET, have led the way with Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) schemes. Wildlife conservation in Namibia depends on the cooperation and participation of local communities on the new land. Recognising the vital link between local communities and conservation, MET has created legislation since the early 1990s to foster communal conservancies in Namibia. The CBNRM programme has, as one of its aims a greater contribution to rural development and economic growth for rural communities. The development and support for CBNRM is one of five Mandate Areas emanating directly from MET’s Strategic Plan. These strategic directions create an enabling environment in which opportunities for community development can be directly linked with rhino range expansion. Translocations have been linked to communal conservancies in a “Custodianship Programme”, whereby local people become custodians of state-owned rhino. Once a certain level of competency has been obtained, conservancies are eligible to use the wildlife on their land to develop responsible tourism viewing, thereby generating income from the program in a non-harmful and sustainable manner.

Monitoring and evaluation

MET reports at national and international level on its rhino conservation management plans, its Rhinoceros Technical Advisory Group, rhino population numbers, translocations, mortalities,  rhino horn stockpiles, horn seizures, court cases, convictions and arrests, and on rhino conservation activities.

History of SRI’s involvement

SRI has supported MET since the 1990s, mainly with grants towards the costs of the annual translocation / ear-notching / radio transmitter implanting programme. SRI also develops and submits grant applications and reports to USFWS on behalf of MET. MET was one of the beneficiaries of the EAZA Rhino Campaign in 2005-6, and Opel Zoo in Germany has continued to give 5,000 euros per year to MET through SRI. Opel Zoo’s money has been used to buy metal detectors, orthodental cameras, to buy parts for a trial using an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle etc; the EAZA Campaign grant was used to buy and fit out a rhino recovery vehicle, for use by the veterinary team on rhino operations.

Funding needs / budget etc

Total budget not known. We fundraise for annual rhino operations: translocations, dehorning, tagging, ear-notching etc.

Other funders

USFWS (via SRI), Opel Zoo, the Namibian government, the Game Products Trust Fund (the body which receives trophy hunting fees) and others.

Programme sustainability

The Ministry’s activities are not fully funded, and it has always needed external donor support; however the hunting revenues are a significant form of income generation.

Tourism facilities

Each of Namibia’s national parks and reserves have excellent lodges and campsites run by Namibia Wildlife Resorts. Self-drive tourism is common in Namibia, as are overland group trips; while upmarket options make use of charter flights to reach remote destinations.