The 2012 Markhor Award for Outstanding Conservation Performance was won jointly by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) and the Namibian Association of CBNRM Support Organisations (NACSO).
Through the Markhor Award, the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation honours conservation projects that link human livelihoods with the conservation of biodiversity. The Award recognizes and celebrates outstanding conservation performance that links the conservation of biodiversity and human livelihoods through the application of the principles of sustainable use, in particular hunting, as part of wildlife and ecosystem management. Previous winners have been the Niassa National Reserve in Mozambique, and the Torghar Conservation Programme in Pakistan.
The work of the MET and NACSO in supporting the Namibia Communal Conservancy Movement has led to a widespread and sustained growth of wildlife populations in Namibia, where communal conservancies have grown from 4, in 1998, to 76 in 2012, covering almost 19 percent of the country. The income from sustainable hunting pays for conservancy salaries – including game guards – and places many conservancies on a sound financial footing.
Total benefits - including income from employment, in-kind benefits, and cash - to communal conservancies between 1998 and 2010 totalled N$179.3 million (US$23.81 million). Though more than half of these benefits were generated from joint venture lodges, the sustainable use of wildlife has produced the majority of cash income to conservancies (N$48.9 million versus N$30.0 million). These cash payments have been essential to allowing conservancies to employ their own conservation staff, cover conservancy operating costs, and contribute to rural development activities – thus, creating strong incentives for communities to live with wildlife.
It was the Namibian post-independence government’s visionary approach to the sustainable utilization of natural resources that created the conditions in which rural Namibians could benefit from wildlife, with legislation in 1996 which led to the establishment of the first communal conservancies. The partnership that followed, between the Ministry, support NGOs under the umbrella of NACSO, and rural communities themselves, has created conditions in which conservation may prosper.