The deserts of the Kunene Region of Namibia represent one of the last true wildernesses remaining in southern Africa. This very distinctive desert ecoregion is home to the black rhino, the famed desert elephants, as well as lion, cheetah, leopard, hyena, mountain zebra, giraffe, springbok, oryx and kudu. This desert is also the home to the Damara, Himba and Herrero people who live in this 28 million acre region of northwestern Namibia.
Since 1998 Round River staff has developed strong relations with local organizations, government and the local tribal people of the Kunene. In 2006 Round River entered into agreements with the Namibia Ministry of Environment and Tourism, the Kunene Regional Governor and the Paramount Chief of the Damara People, to support long-term conservation of the region’s biodiversity. Towards this end, our project encompasses two interrelated objectives.
Objective One is to identify and provide information on important conservation areas. The primary targets associated with this include those areas identified as important for key wildlife habitats and regional connectivity.
Objective Two is to identify and provide information on key species. This objective is associated with monitoring and specific land use activities/impacts related to key species.
The Namibian government, with local traditional authorities and conservancy leaders, is working to conserve this vast wilderness and its wildlife, while also preserving this vital link to the Skeleton Coast and Etosha National Park. Whereby, facilitating wildlife migrations and one of the largest conservation area complexes in the world.
Even though current land-use plans throughout the Kunene are rudimentary in nature, the conservancies are putting forth great effort and making progress in conserving their wildlife. To best facilitate a long-term viable Kunene region, a multi-level conservation strategy is needed to coordinate and implement the various management plans associated with the sorted land components.
The Work Ahead
In 2008, Round River completed the Kunene Regional Ecological Analysis (KREA), to identify the ecological values across the region. The KREA, accepted by the conservancy leaders, provides input into their land management plans. In 2008 we began mapping and developing land-use plans with the conservancies of the Kunene and continue to develop these plans and assist with their implementation.
In 2011, working in close collaboration with the central 5 Kunene conservancies and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Round River initiated long-term game counts to augment the annual regional game census efforts. In conjunction with these counts, Round River is also working closely with the conservancy game guards to provide needed training assistance.