First ever payment from the Wildlife Credits Scheme

On Friday, 14th September, farmers’ in Tsiseb Conservancy who had recently lost livestock due to lions gathered at the Brandberg White Lady Lodge.
The purpose of this meeting was to introduce the new Wildlife Credits Scheme, whereby tourist sightings of lions and elephants are used to generate funds for the exclusive purpose of mitigating human wildlife conflict.
In Tsiseb Conservancy, these funds are generated through tourists going on game drives at the Brand-berg White Lady Lodge, and matched with funding from the Namibian Asso-ciation of CBNRM Support Organisations (NACSO).
Due to the recent spate of lion attacks on livestock in this area, Tsiseb Conservancy and Brandberg White Lady Lodge, along with the Daure Daman Traditional Authority, and the Daures Farmers’ Association, decided to use the first funds from the Wildlife Credit Scheme to pay out cash compensation to farmers as a contribution to offset their losses. The Chairman of Tsiseb Con-servancy, Rev Zebedeus /Ui-seb clarified that,“the Scheme is aimed at human-wildlife conflict mitigation through payment of compensation for livestock, injury to human life, and damage to crops and infrastructure due to lions and/or elephants”.
The Conservancy Chairman further stated that, “the Wildlife Credit Scheme must not be confused with the Government’s Human Wildlife Con-flict Self Reliance Scheme (HWSRS); our Scheme is totally independent and also caters for other benefits which are not included in the HWSRS”. In particular, Rev /Uiseb emphasised that the funds for the Wildlife Credit Scheme are directly linked with income from tourists coming to see lions and elephants. He therefore condemned the recent attack on tourists travelling between Spitzkoppe and Uis in the strongest possible terms, especially since the tangible benefits of tourism could be seen in the Wildlife Credits Scheme.
Representing the Daures Farmers’ Union, the Chair-man, Mr Issakar Kamendu, made a few remarks: “As a farmer, you must have a brand number to be able to identify your animal, especially when it is killed by a predator or dies due to drought,” he further emphasised, “farmers should be looking after their animals using kraals and herders”.
Mr Kamendu noted that when the conservancy was first established, the farming community thought only of the game species like ostrich, springbok, and kudu that would increase in the area and provide benefits. They did not think about the lions or elephants that would increase and cause livestock losses and other problems. Nonetheless, he called on the farmers to support the Conservancy, as tourism due to animals like lions and elephants has the potential to generate jobs and income, even if the national economy is declining.
A representative from the Daure Daman Traditional Authority, Councillor Jacqueline /Awases, made a few comments on behalf of the chief, who was attending a meeting in Windhoek. “I understand that the money provided today for the losses is not enough, and that the farmers have suffered; however, with these funds we are able to at least meet the farmers half way”. She further expressed her gratitude to the Conservancy and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET): “The information received from these parties was used to determine what livestock were lost, and to make sure the right farmers will receive a payout today.” On behalf of the Traditional Authority, she pledged continued support for the Conservancy regarding human-wildlife conflict.
During the process of handing out payments to the farmers, the manager of Tsiseb Conservancy, Mr EricXaweb, made a few comments. “Our decision regarding which farmers would be paid out was based on good evidence of lion predation collected by the Conservancy Game Guards, MET representatives, and Dr Philip Stander. The total losses suffered since September 2017 until recently amount to 35 goats, 3 cows, and 5 donkeys.” He further announced plans to collect accurate numbers of livestock owned in the conservancy, and to build a predator-proof kraals in the area: “We will engage with the farmers to find out where to put these kraals, and to create awareness about how to protect their livestock from predators in future.”
All of the representatives expressed their deep gratitude towards the parties who made this Wildlife Credit Scheme possible. In particular, they praised the Namibia Nature Foundation for facilitating the establishment of the Scheme, NACSO and the Brandberg White Lady Lodge for partnering with the Tsiseb Conservancy to generate the Wildlife Credit funds. The Conservancy representatives emphasised that these payouts had been just the start of the benefits that would come from the Wildlife Credits Scheme. Tsiseb Conservancy would work together with the farmers to use these funds wisely in the future, to help farmers coexist with lions and elephants.

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