The New Narrative For Rhino Conservation
During an unconventional interview that took place under the cool shade of a mopane tree in the warm in Southern town of Khorixas, Clemence Naomab talks to MYD’s Kirsty Watermayer about the benefits of community engagement and grassroots collaboration in the fight against rhino poaching.
MYD: We’ve heard about Rhino poaching and people are talking about fighting the scourge of poaching in the Kunene region. Tell us more about this?
It has been happening in the communal area and I’m so excited about it. We once had two years of no poaching here and that was a huge milestone that we needed to celebrate with our communities. We needed to tell the world that we have free roaming Rhinos with two years of no poaching recorded in our region.
MYD: How did this happen, why is it that we’ve had such successes come out the Kunene?
People are starting to tell a different story. There is more pride to having the Rhino around. People are starting to realise the real value of the Rhino and not just in monetary terms. They take pride in their Rhinos, it is quite impressive and I applaud our communities for doing such a good job when it comes to looking after our Rhinos.
MYD: It’s also a beautiful story of how important it is to involve communities in wildlife conservation.
Exactly! The whole military approach to conservation never works. In order to get the communities on your side they first need to trust you. So that means building trust, building that connection with the communities that you work with and not just coming into the community wanting to impose your ideologies.
MYD: What would your message be to people from outside Namibia on involving communities in conservation efforts?
Understand what the needs are and try to address those needs. Work together with the communities, listen to their opinions and start engaging on a deeper level to make sure that the needs of communities on the ground are addressed first.
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