Protecting Namibia’s brown hyenas from hunting

Namibia is considered a conservation success story, where species heading for extinction due to poaching and habitat-loss on the rest of the continent are thriving. 

Brown hyenas, also known as strandwolves, are a prime example, having established their largest contiguous population in the world in the apparently hostile environment of the Skeleton Coast. And the strandwolf is not an isolated case.  

Yet this is a concern for farmers, whose livelihoods are threatened when wild animals target their livestock or crops. Conservationists believe the recovery of the hyena and other species can only succeed in the long term if the local community is actively engaged in their protection.

Goats is herded out to graze on Namibia's Skeleton Coast

The growing hyena population has cattle farmers worried about their livestock

In the 1990s, Namibia became one of the first African countries to allow communities to establish and operate nature reserves. There are now 86 communal protected areas, covering 20% of Namibia’s land area, bringing jobs and revenue from nature tourism to locals. 

The Anabeb Community Reserve, established in 2003 as a bufferzone between the national park and farmland, covers an area of 1,500 square kilometers (579 square miles). About 200 local households are involved in building and maintaining the reserve. Some who previously made a living from poaching or farming now work in the tourism sector or as wildlife rangers. 

A brown hyena stands in a sandy desert landscape on Namibia's Skeleton Coast

Brown hyenas have adapted to the extreme conditions of Namibia’s Skeleton Coast

Project Goal: To empower the rural population through conservation and development. The movement for community-based conservation in Namibia is grounded in the conviction that conservation can only succeed if the people affected are in charge of what happens to their land and its resources.

Partner organizations: Community-based conservation is supported by numerous civil society organizations in Namibia, most notably the Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC).

A film by Stefan Arno Möhl

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