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Million dollar boost for conservancies

The Minister of Environment and Tourism, Hon Uahekua Herunga, opening the container at the  Wilderness Safaris premises. The container holds a variety of equipment and accessories to help community game guards protect the wildlife in their home conservancies. (Photograph by Musa Carter)

The Minister of Environment and Tourism, Hon Uahekua Herunga, opening the container at the Wilderness Safaris premises. The container holds a variety of equipment and accessories to help community game guards protect the wildlife in their home conservancies. (Photograph by Musa Carter)

Conservancies received an operational boost this week when a consignment of goods to help them in their work, arrived in Windhoek at the offices of Wilderness Safaris. At hand to receive the container were a score of people working in tourism and nature conservation.
Namibia’s Community Game Guards got a massive shot in the arm through a generous donation of equipment worth N$1 million from REI International Adventure on Wednesday.
Present at the opening of the container was the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Hon Uahekua Herunga as well as NASCO Director, Maxi Louis and Community Liaison Manager at Wilderness Safaris, Jermain Ketji.

“The community game guards have protected the iconic wildlife of Namibia for over 20 years.
With minimal equipment, they have made Namibia an inspiring destination and success story in Africa’s struggle against poaching.”
stated Minister Herunga.
The million dollar contribution from REI International which is the largest retailer in the United States was first announced during last year’s Adventure Travel World Summit in Swakopmund when Namibia hosted 650 delegates.
 This summit was later voted the most successful ATWS summit ever.
This summit put Namibia on the adventure tourism map, a niche that was never fully exploited before.
It improved the country’s profile to such an extent that it was noticed by businesses in the United States. The New York Times ranked Namibia sixth in the world as one of the best place to visit in 2014.
Cited as a key pillar of local rural tourism is Namibia’s communal conservancy movement, which pairs sustainable tourism with rural community outreach.
Herunga said REI selected Namibia and the Conservancy Game Guards in particular after the Director of REI Adventures, Ms Dunbar, experienced Namibia’s conservancy tourism for herself.
During her visit, she also noticed the conservation commitment of the rural residents and conservancy members, which helped Namibia receive the 2013 Sustainable Tourism Award.
Through the award 500 of Namibia’s wildlife guards received REI gear including sleeping bags, backpacks, head lamps, hats, pocket knives, socks, T-shirts, lip balm, sun screen and a water bottle,  to help with their mission of protecting the 70 conservancies.
In addition the minister noted that one of the biggest threats faced by conservationists is the proper management of human and wildlife conflict which occurs frequently.
 In his closing statement the minister commended REI Adventures for their contribution and for their support to help the game guards become more effective as Namibia’s front-line guardians and conservancy protectors.

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