… while new tech combats locust invasions
Conservation efforts in the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA) got a US$4.2 million fillip this week from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation and the French Development Agency.
KAZA incorporates border region national parks in Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The funds availed this week will support community conservation activities in Botswana and Namibia.
KAZA is the world’s largest transfrontier conservation area and a biodiversity-rich ecosystem.
Presenting the funding in Windhoek, FAO Namibia Country Representative Ms Farayi Zimudzi said the Sustainable Wildlife Management Programme would address threats from unsustainable hunting and depletion and fragmentation of habitats.
“The focus of the project is to benefit both the wildlife and ecosystems in the transfrontier conservation area and the resilience of local communities that rely on them, at least in part, for food and income,” said Ms Zimudzi.
She said the project would focus on supporting development of a network of community conservancies and community-based organisations to manage communal land for sustainable use of natural resources.
Namibia already has a network of 86 community conservancies, which collectively cover 20 percent of the country and are home to nearly 230,000 people.
Namibian Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta lauded the support availed by developmental partners. He emphasised Namibia’s continued co-operation with neighbouring states to promote sustainable conservation.
Mr Gilles Kleitz, director of Ecological Transition and Natural Resources at the French Development Agency added: “In Namibia, for instance, conservancies contributed to more than US$10 million in benefits such as income, employment remuneration, and payments in kind, for example meat, to conservancy members in 2018. The overall economic contributions from these benefits amounted to more than US$62 million, including the creation of over 5,300 jobs from conservancy related operations and enterprises.”
The project will contribute to policies aimed at fostering development of community conservancies, sustainable hunting, wildlife conservation and enhanced institutional and legal frameworks.
The Sustainable Wildlife Management Programme is promoting similar approaches in Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile, FAO has also said it is deploying new tools to combat locust invasions in regions such as Southern Africa that are prone to the pestilence.
The new technologies include an eLocust3 tablet, used to collect data that is fed to FAO’s Desert Locust Information Service, and national authorities can then map locust movements and stay a step ahead of them.
FAO senior locust forecaster Mr Keith Cressman said, “We are constantly looking for cutting edge technologies to harness and adapt them into innovative tools that can be used to improve our forecasting and early warning.”
Mr Cressman said FAO was using a satellite technology dubbed “the Holy Grail of desert locust monitoring” to detect soil moisture beneath Earth’s surface to determine if conditions were conducive for locust eggs.
This is good news for a Southern Africa region that has seen large swathes of cropland destroyed by locusts and fall armyworm over the past year.
Most affected were Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, where locust swarms descended in 2020.
A single swarm can eat as much food as 2,500 people in a day.
Reporting by Tiri Masawi in Windhoek & Gracious Madondo in Harare