An African's Queen

Observations of an African Man's Western Woman

Poachers become the Conservationists in Namibia

John Kasaona is a conservationist from Namibia who provides an insightful talk on TED about a group of poachers who become caretakers of the wild animals they once hunted. What’s fantastic about this speech is the way he presents they three characteristics of how the community and villagers evolved.

1. Blend the Old with New

Honoring tradition and being open to new ideas.

2. Focusing on the Solution

We wanted to have a life, a better life, where we can benefit through many things.

3. Creating Lasting Partnerships

Our government has given legal status over traditional lands. The other partners we have are in the business community [who] helped bring Namibia onto the world map …

The Non Government Organization Mr Kasaona speaks of is called IRDNC: Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation. It has been operating since the early 80’s and is funded predominately by international foundations like WWF. Their successes have taken a small scale operation and become a national program.

Successes noted in the speech include:

  • 1982: Black Rhino’s were almost extinct; today, Namibia has the most free-roaming (outside protected areas) black rhino’s in the world.
  • 1995: 20 lions were remaining in the entire north west; today, over 130.
  • Mountain zebras were less than a thousand, now there are tens of thousands.

They also created sixty conservancies that are legal institutions organized within the communities that now protect over 30million acres of land in Namibia. Overall, this success has raised over 5.7million dollars (2008), which has gone straight back to the Namibian communities in the way of education, community infrastructure like food, and HIV/ AIDS education.

This is our new economy, an economy based on a respect for our natural resources… We were successful in Namibia because we needed much more than just healthy wildlife, we knew conservation would fail if it doesn’t work to improve the life of the local communities.

Successful stories of African people can go a long way to re-educating the western societies about innovations seen no where else in the world. The conservatories in Namibia are one of a kind and it is this kind of inspiration that will help develop better processes in other countries too.

I like that… Namibia serving a model to Africa, and Africa is serving a model to the United States.

For more information about the IRDNC program or their partner WWF visit their sites.

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