The Contribution of Wildlife to Sustainable Natural Resource Utilization in Namibia: A Review
Namibia is the driest country in sub-Saharan Africa, but well known for its richness in species and sustainable natural resource utilization. The Namibian farming sector consists mainly of extensive farming systems. Cattle production contributes 54% of the livestock sector’s production output, followed by sheep and goats (25%), hides and skins (9%), and other forms of agricultural production (12%). Namibia’s freehold farmers have obtained ownership rights over land and livestock since the early 1900s; commercial rights over wildlife and plants were given to freehold farmers in 1967 and to communal farmers in 1996. Natural resource-based production systems then overtook agricultural production systems and exceeded it by a factor of at least two. The shift from practicing conservation to sustainable utilization of natural resources contributed to the rapid growth of wildlife utilization. The wildlife industry in Namibia is currently the only animal production system that is expanding. There are in total at least two million head of different wildlife species. The broader impact of the utilization of wildlife on the economy is estimated to be around N$ 1.3 billion. Tourism, live sales and trophy hunting, cannot sustain further growth. Wildlife farming could offer better opportunities for ensuring long-term sustainability. As the game meat trade in Namibia is not formalized, harvesting wildlife to satisfy the demand for game meat in export markets is still in its infancy. Sustainable harvesting of wildlife for meat production, however, has the potential to increase earnings to the beneficiaries in the wildlife sector.
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