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Human Wildlife Conflict Mitigation in the Reimvasmaaker Community

The MYD Earth tour of Southern Kunene yielded one of the most insightful interviews on the show to date. 

The Riemvasmaaker community lives and farms alongside wildlife and despite the challenges posed by human wildlife conflict, they remain committed to protecting and wildlife.

Jantjie Rein, a member of the Community shared his experience:

“We never had conservancies back then. There were no opportunities for employment so we had to create jobs for ourselves. I used to seek work in other towns like Uis and Arandis just so that I could provide for my family. 

Today, we have realised that we have to find a way to survive beyond livestock farming. We approached the government to give us jurisdiction over the wild animals that are in our area. We love and care for these animals and if we could be given the go ahead to manage the wildlife in our area,” he said.

The community came up with the idea to start a conservancy in Damaraland. This conservancy was registered in 1989 and has since become a source of income for the community members. 

Part of the success of the communal conservancy program is that people who live in the regions are offered job opportunities through the joint venture lodges which have found opportunities for tourism in communal conservancies. These lodges rent the land from the local community and provide jobs to people in the area, such is the case with Geraldo Erasmus who works at Wilderness Safari’s Damaraland camp. 

Geraldo explains that despite the high levels of human wildlife conflict in the area and the threat that lions pose, his favourite animal is still the lion and he is proud to be part of their protection.

“I’m from the local here known as Damaraland Camp. I grew up around this area for almost all my life. I started doing plumbing with my father for a period of time and things didn’t work out. I came back to get better knowledge and I stayed on the farm for almost a year and Wilderness gave me an opportunity to actually prove myself as a plumber. I went to another camp for two months doing more plumbing work and came back to Damara Camp, I did one month plumbing and my contract stopped, so I went back to the farm again and they called me in for maintenance. They actually promote me to a barman, so I’m a barman now,” said Geraldo.

For Geraldo, the lion is the most beautiful animal he has ever seen – despite its reputation. 

“Lions are the first thing a farmer doesn’t want to hear about. I have experienced lions attacking my cows, so I got used to it, I can’t do anything about it, I just love it,” he said.

Watch the MYD Africa Show on One Africa TV every Tuesday at 20h00 with repeats on Thursdays at 06h30 and Sundays at 19h30. Listen to the MYD Earth Show on 99FM every Monday at 18h00.