051_G17 Arena

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Arena Conservation ticipation has made the poaching of wildlife socially undesirable, leading to impressive recoveries of wildlife populations in conservancies and even the re-establishment of some historic wildlife migration corridors. Rebounding populations of oryx, springboks, kudus, giraffes and zebras have, in turn, provided an opportunity for the recovery of a range of iconic predators, including lions, cheetahs and leopards. Elephants and rhinos have also increased in number and range, with communal conservancies hosting the largest free-roaming populations of rhinos in the world. Increased wildlife populations have translated, therefore, into increased fi nancial and economic benefi ts – through lodges, hunting operations and more than 200 spin-off community-owned enterprises – as responsible tourists travel to experience Namibia’s nature. Wildlife is creating jobs, enhancing livelihoods, increasing a sense of pride and ownership, and contributing to rural development, with community-secured benefi ts being valued at close to US$7 million in 2012. In addition, conservancies with their game guards have created a newfound sense of local ownership and appreciation for wildlife – placing thousands of eyes and ears on the ground to counter the onslaught of the poaching that feeds the lucrative rhino horn and ivory trades. Communal conservancies have grown from four in 1998 to 79 today, with approximately one out of every fi ve rural Namibians being part of a conservancy. Covering almost 20 per cent of Namibia’s land area, conservancies create a strong synergy between protected areas and other forms of recognised conservation land use. Cumulatively, Namibia can boast of having 43 per cent of its land under some form of recognised conservation status – a rare feat indeed. To witness Namibia’s wildlife in all its rich and beautiful abundance, roaming free across the endless peaceful plains, as I have been lucky enough to do, is one of the most moving and inspiring sights in today’s world – and a precious and lasting gift for anyone privileged to see it. And I have met with the communities on the ground. The local people have a pride and dignity in their success and ability to live side by side with wildlife, and will do everything they can to counter poaching. I encourage other governments to recognise the importance of empowering their communities as legitimate and incentivised conservation allies, as Namibia does – ultimately helping more people and nature thrive in harmony with each other. That is the future I want to see. Chief Emeka Anyaoku returns to Namibia The Nigerian Chief Emeka Anyaoku, former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, visited Namibia in October 2013 to award the prestigious Gift to the Earth prize to Namibia. The event took place at the opening of the Adventure Travel World Summit, where he presented the award to President Hifi kepunye Pohamba, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and all of Namibia’s 79 communal conservancies. Chief Anyaoku is an old friend of Namibia who worked behind the scenes to move the process of independence forward and to prepare the country for self-governance. He was awarded the Order of the Welwitschia First Class by the Founding President of Namibia, Dr Sam Nujoma, for his assistance in establishing Namibia as an independent country. In the lead-up to Namibia’s independence, the Commonwealth put in place a programme of technical assistance, which provided training for 8,500 Namibians all over the world who would then be able to move into administrative and other critical posts when the time came. When independence was granted in 1990, Namibia joined the Commonwealth of Nations. When Anyaoku retired as Secretary-General of the Commonwealth in 2002 he became president of the WWF – Worldwide Fund for Nature – and devoted himself to his love of conservation. Although he retired as president in 2009, that love has continued, making him the natural candidate to award the Gift to the Earth to Namibia. The WWF award is a public celebration of a conservation action that demonstrates environmental leadership and is a globally signifi cant contribution to the protection of the living world. Steve Felton works for the WWF Chief Anyaoku Chief Emeka Anyaoku is former President of WWF International and served as the third Commonwealth Secretary-General © Steve Felton global f i rst quar ter 2014 www.global -br ief ing.org l 51


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