Claims of financial mismanagement at conservancies

20 January 2019 | Environment

Ellanie Smit - The financial mismanagement at conservancies in Namibia has been a growing concern, which loomed large in 2017.

This according to the 2017 State of Conservation in Namibia report, which says that most financial mismanagement in conservancies is the result of poor record-keeping and a lack of supported receipts. However, there were also cases of misappropriated cash, some of which are being investigated by the police.

According to the report, these issues were picked up in the Zambezi conservancies, some of which have employed an external accountant to audit their books. In reaction, the tourism ministry held a workshop on the issue with conservancies in the region along with similar workshops that will be held with conservancies in other regions.

The report further notes that the accurate monitoring of quotas, dealing with poaching and wildlife crime and human-wildlife conflict are some of the major challenges that conservancies in Namibia face. It says that land use is also a significant concern facing the conservancy’s wildlife management programme.

According to the report, “Conservancies try to undertake participatory land-use planning, but this is undermined by conservancies not having the legal powers to enforce their game utilisation management plans, through land grabs by wealthy private individuals who fence off land, by some government partners who do not recognise or are not aware of conservancy land use plans, and by the registration of customary rights which is not harmonized with conservancy land-use planning.”

The report states that all conservancies should have a zonation plan that divides land use between agriculture, settlement, tourism and hunting. “Some of the newer conservancies do not have zonation plans, while other established conservancies are facing zonation problems.”

According to the report, land allocated for wildlife is being settled and fenced off for agriculture, or is being invaded by farmers from adjacent areas with their cattle.

On the positive side, the report points out that annually collated information from conservancies’ event books show that poaching incidents for meat has been contained to low levels. However, there is a perceived level of complacency by conservancies in reporting incidents, which may be higher than those recorded. The report also states that anecdotal evidence points to an unwillingness to report poaching incidents to the police, and for the police to follow up these incidents.

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