Namibia is Thriving
Namibia is home to some of the world's richest wildlife and poorest communities. By helping people benefit from their natural resources, WWF have helped both to thrive.
What's at stake?
The rolling deserts and rocky red mountains of Namibia are a place of stark beauty. Half a century ago, this vast area of southwest Africa was rich in charismatic wildlife, including rare desert elephants, lions, leopards, cheetahs, giraffes, zebras and black rhino.
But during the 1970s and 80s, a huge rise in poaching caused a dramatic fall in wildlife numbers. Drought and military occupation meant the prospects were also bleak for the country's human inhabitants, who today number 2 million.
The story so far
After gaining independence from South Africa in 1990, Namibia became the first country in Africa to incorporate environmental protection into its constitution. The government passed a law enabling communities to set up "conservancies", giving them the right to manage and benefit from their own natural resources.
WWF has worked with Namibian partners to provide training, grants, technical assistance and practical solutions to help communities protect their land and manage it sustainably. Even those not conservationists by nature understood that their well-being was linked to the environment.
So far, 235,000 people across Namibia have joined together to create some 59 special conservation areas, which protect 132,000 sq km of vital wildlife habitat - one-sixth of Namibia's land area. More than 30 more are in the planning stages. In just over two decades we've helped our Namibian partners to double the amount of protected space - and wildlife is thriving. In Kunene, one of the regions where we work, elephant numbers have tripled compared to the early 1980s, while giraffes have increased fivefold.
In 1982, Kunene was home to as few as 400 oryx, 600 springboks and 450 zebras. Now there are around 29,000 oryx, 175,000 springboks and 18,800 zebras. Their recovery has led to big increases in the number of predators, including lions, leopards and cheetahs.
Local people benefit as a result. The conservation areas bring in more than US$5.5m a year, and the communities that manage the land benefit from jobs ranging from ecotourism to gathering ingredients for upmarket perfumes. And because everyone benefits from preserving the region's amazing animals, poachers are no longer welcome.
Did you know? Rhinos have poor eyesight, but an excellent sense of smell.
Facts and stats
· 47% - increase in wildlife sightings in Namibia since 2004.
· 132,000 sq km - land already protected by communities in the country.
· 59 - conservation areas set up to protect wildlife.
To visit this amazing place go to >>KE Adventure Namibia Highlights Tour