Human-wildlife conflicts in Namibia’s communal conservancies




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In 1998, Namibia established its “Community-Based Natural Resource Management” programme, which aims to promote the conservation of natural resources, improve the livelihoods of rural communities and protect wildlife and the environment by granting resource rights to members of its communal conservancies. Human-wildlife conflicts (HWC) appear due to overlapping interests in terms of habitats and resources in conservancies for humans and wildlife. By using a time and area-accurate approach, this thesis studied the density of HWC on a regional and conservancy level in Namibia for the period 2001-2017 and the densities for its two main types of conflicts: Crop and livestock damages. It also examined the growing size of conservancies for the same period as a factor influencing the annual total number of HWC. The quantitative data on HWC in conservancies was accessed from the event book of the “Namibian Association of Community-Based Natural Resource Management Support Organizations”. The statistical and subsequent geographical analysis using Quantum Geographic Information System revealed a right-skewed distribution of data for the type-based and all-encompassing analysis of HWC. The Zambezi region showed the highest density of crop damage events. Nine out of 15 conservancies in the Zambezi region also faced a high or very high density of livestock damage. In terms of livestock damage, all except two of the conservancies with a high or very high density were located north of the Red Line in the Kunene, Oshikoto or Zambezi region. Furthermore, a very strong positive correlation (r² = 0.92) was found between the annual increase in the total area of conservancies and the total HWC. The analysis of the density of HWC revealed that the geographical conditions, which determine the use of land, influence the type of conflict in a region. The stronger distribution of livestock damages in comparison to crop damages was also expected to be due to a higher cultural significance and thus prioritized practice of livestock holding, especially cattle farming, over crop production for farmers in conservancies. The access to adjacent land shaped the distribution of wildlife populations and, thus, consequently influenced the level of risk for HWC. The density of the human population showed a strong positive correlation (r² = 0.72) with the occurrence of HWC. The analysis of other variables pointed out that an increased pressure of the Namibian population on wildlife habitats as well as the growth of major wildlife populations until 2012 both are likely to have influenced the increase of HWC. Counteracting measures, such as resettling households from wildlife corridors and the application of chilli-based deterrents were found to successfully mitigate HWC. Future research should include a wildlife-species-specific analysis, investigate agricultural land use patterns, and study the influence of human pressure on HWC to provide even more indications of the occurrence of HWC in Namibian conservancies.




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