We’ll be counting game

12 October 2020 | Environment

With the support of the ministry of environment, forestry and tourism (MEFT), the Nyae Nyae Conservancy undertook its annual game count in September.
This involved wildlife rangers and volunteers observing the 18 water points around the conservancy. They do this for 48 hours, counting the different species of game coming to drink at each water point.
The collected data is analysed, allowing for an estimation of the number of game in the surrounding area. While the numbers vary each year according to rain fall and other natural factors, the longitudinal data can show trends. This is essential information as it gives a good indication of how the wildlife in and around the conservancies are doing.

Expensive, but essential
These game counts are an expensive but essential exercise.
The costs include providing provisions for the rangers and the volunteers during the counting and briefing period. A significant amount of money is also spent on the data collection and analysis as well as having to drive across the vast conservancy which is nearly 9,000km².
This year there were additional costs as masks were provided, sanitisers and more vehicles were needed to ensure sufficient social-distance between passengers. Briefings were also held outside to reduce the risk of exposure to Covid-19.
Given the financial challenges that many conservancies face every year, this year’s lockdown and absence of tourism created even greater financial difficulties for the conservancies.
Nyae Nyae is lucky to be receiving the support of the IUCN Save our Species European Union funds. This covered the cost of the game count as well as the rangers’ salaries for the year ahead. This had a great positive impact on the viability of the conservancy for the year ahead and the critical role the rangers play in monitoring and preventing poaching. Preventing poaching is an essential aspect of the Rangers’ tasks as illegal hunting of the animals severely impacts the conservancy negatively.