Community concessions like the King Nehale Conservancy in Oshikoto region are feeling the pinch of the devastating effects from the global Covid-19 pandemic.
Ester Petrus, the acting conservancy coordinator, said the pandemic has resulted in no income for the concession.
“If lockdown does not end, we will not be able to conduct our shoot and sell. Without that, we are of no use to the community that relies heavily on us,” said Petrus. The conservancy receives permission from the ministry of environment every year to hunt a number of wild animals.
“In a year, they can give us, for example, about 80 springboks and 10 wildebeest. We shoot them and sell the meat for profit,” she said.
From the earnings, the conservancy has supported local schools and clinics.
“We donate some of the money, for example, at Nakasino Primary School; we gave them money to buy the cement for their building. We also give live animals to the Ondonga Traditional Authority; we also assist the clinics to build extra shelter for waiting patients,” said Petrus.
However, due to the current state of emergency in place, Petrus fears their shoot and sell activity may be halted for 2020 since the conservancy is unable to do its annual wildlife count.
“Each year, we go out into the field and count the number of wild animals. Only when we have given this number to the ministry of environment can they give us permission to shoot. This year, we could not conduct this activity,” she said. Absalom Mwatilaefu, the game guard at the conservancy, added that the pandemic has caused the delay of hiring two more guards and, thus, he is left to safeguard the conservancy without sufficient manpower.
Mwatilaefu said without the extra guards, poaching in the area may increase.
“Covid-19 affected my work because now our coffers are empty and the patrol distance is too long for me alone. I am only supposed to patrol at Omutsegwonime where I am based,” Mwatilaefu said.
Despite the setback, Mwatilaefu believes the existence of the conservancy is highly beneficial to the community. “Because of our conservation efforts, now even if our children are asked what a Guineafowl in school is, they can describe it well,” said Mwatilaefu.