Reptile joins fight to address human-wildlife conflict in the Namib desert
The Japanese Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation, together with their local Joint Venture partner, Reptile Mineral Resources & Exploration last week donated 40 trail cameras and one acoustics recorder of approximately N$75,000 in value to Gobabeb – Namib Research Institute.
The equipment will be used by a local student at Gobabeb, Ruben Angala, to address human-wildlife conflict issues in the Namib Desert. He is a third-year student in Natural Resource Management at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), and is currently an intern at Gobabeb.
Angala’s study will provide insights regarding this conflict, with the specific objectives of evaluating the efficacy of local livestock management strategies to prevent livestock predation; identifying the predator hotspots in the lower Kuiseb, as well as determining if there is a logical association between livestock management practices and predation in the area.
“As an operator in the protected area, we are committed to a sustainable environment in the Namib-Naukluft Park. We are very pleased to continue supporting research at Gobabeb, which will greatly assist in achieving this objective. The fact that the research results will impact on the livelihoods of the local Topnaar communities living in the park is particularly gratifying,” Dr Katrin Kärner of Reptile Mineral Resources said.
According to Dr Gillian Maggs-Kölling, Executive Director at Gobabeb, the ongoing support that they received from Nova JV has enabled Gobabeb to procure innovative technologies that add value to our research initiatives.
“By involving local students in the deployment of this equipment puts them in the front of the pack of early career scientists in Namibia. Such exposure will serve to open minds and provide new tools to exploring opportunities in the field of natural resource management, and represents a tangible investment in Namibia’s research capacity,” Maggs-Kölling added.
The Namib is a hyper-arid desert. Annual rainfall averages less than 25 mm and temperatures often exceeds 40°C. It is almost entirely uninhabited by humans, but the Topnaar Nama (≠Aoni) people have lived and farmed with livestock in this harsh environment of the Lower Kuiseb for centuries. Situated within the Namib-Naukluft Park, it is inevitable that conflicts will arise.
Domestic animals are easy prey for predators. On the other hand, movement of livestock and their herders may exclude wildlife and indigenous herbivores from the area. This has implications for conservation strategies within the protected area, and may compromise the benefits to the park of the burgeoning tourism industry in Namibia.
Meanwhile the Nova JV is supporting the human-wildlife conflict study through its social responsibility programme, contributing to a sustainable environment in the Park as well as capacity building and national development through this donation.
Caption: Third-year student in Natural Resource Management at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), Ruben Angala setting up trail camera