Symposium to accentuate value of wildlife

As the 9th International Wildlife Ranching Symposium (IWRS) slated for 12 to 16 September draws near, the Economist caught up the Chairman, Prof. Wouter van Hoven to get details on what the event means for the country.
The event which will be held at the Safari Hotel in Windhoek will host delegates from 22 countries of whom very few have been to Namibia before, according to Van Hoven.
Prof. Van Hoven said Windhoek was specifically chosen as it has an ideal setting for such a conference and Namibia has an upcoming and growing Wildlife Ranching Industry and has recently established an organization called, “Wildlife Ranching Namibia” with Mr. Mike Bredenkamp as the President.
“Namibia has a well-organized tourism sector and many of the delegates plan to travel the country as well,” he added.
Van Hoven, said the symposium will serve to accentuate the potential of wildlife in other regions of Africa and the world, not only lead to the conservation of the natural environment, but also to contribute significantly to the welfare of indigenous and rural communities.
“The sustainable use of wildlife forms the basis of wildlife ranching. In this way we can optimise biodiversity and the conservation of wildlife through sustainable use and encourage and support rural communities to create more long-term, sustainable wildlife ranches and conservancies, particularly in those areas where the bushmeat harvesting has serious impacts on the biodiversity,” he said.
According to Van Hoven one whole plenary session will only focus on issues with Rhino and three parallel sessions will deal only with Buffalo.
Furthermore, a motion will be tabled to reposition this International Wildlife Ranching symposium into a permanent International Wildlife Ranching forum based in Gland, Switzerland. Van Hoven explained that there is an important distinction between Game Ranching which is large open areas where the wildlife feeds what nature offers within the carrying capacity and Game Farming which is wildlife in smaller camps for breeding purposes and that is supplemented nutritionally. “The focus in this meeting is on game ranching, which can also be seen as wildlife conservation on private or communal land, based on the principle of sustainable use. Thus, the target audience would be anybody interested in wildlife conservation on either public or private land,” he said. This major global conference offers enormous possibilities for Namibian game farmers, bringing them into an international network of game ranchers.
The 1st International Wildlife Ranching Congress was held in New Mexico, USA, and has since been held in South Africa, the USA, Canada and France. The congress will run under the theme, “Wildlife – the key to prosperity for rural communities.”

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