Delegation Travels to Gather Conservancies’ Knowledge
- by Dr. Laurie Marker December 28, 2022
This year we took some big steps toward promoting rangewide efforts to elevate awareness on cheetah conservation in the Horn of Africa. Our most recent efforts focused on education at the highest levels of government and ministry within Somaliland to increase cooperation across the countries in the Horn of Africa.
In July 2022, we welcomed a delegation from the government of Somaliland to CCF for a series of tours and knowledge-sharing initiatives. The group was made up of representatives from the Republic of Somaliland and they made the journey for an informative tour of north-central Namibia. Then in December, we made an additional five-day tour of Kenya. The group visited national parks and conservancies in both countries, meeting potential partners and learning about Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) and conservancy models.
I was joined in leading the delegation through Namibia by Maxi Pia Louis, the Executive Director of the Namibian Association of CBNRM Support Organisations (NACSO) and in Kenya we were joined by Mary Wykstra, the Executive Director of Action for Cheetahs Kenya (ACK). The goal of both tours was to transfer institutional knowledge and experience about CBNRM, eco-tourism, and the development of concessions around protected areas. The Somaliland government is developing their own model to meet the needs of nomadic pastoral communities while mitigating threats to wildlife, with a focus on the cheetah.
Both the tour in Namibia and the tour in Kenya are part of a project funded by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Save our Species (IUCN-SOS) initiative. The project is designed to support cheetah conservation in Somaliland by helping develop the communities of people who live with cheetahs in the wild. By visiting different sites and learning from different models, the Somaliland delegation will gain a comprehensive understanding of the different ways to approach community-based conservation and will be able to apply that knowledge to their own country.
We have worked in cooperation with the government of Somaliland since 2011 to combat the illegal wildlife trade in cheetahs. We are currently caring for more than 90 cheetahs at a series of three Cheetah Safe Houses in Somaliland’s capital city of Hargeisa. The animals were confiscated from the illegal pet trade and from human-wildlife conflict situations by the government and over the past few years we have outgrown our capacity at this location. In December of 2021, we began working toward creating a permanent home for the confiscated animals and also a Field Centre to address the needs of the rural community that shares their landscape with predators like the cheetah. The new Cheetah Rescue and Conservation Centre (CRCC) is located in Somaliland’s first national park at GeedDeeble (“Land of Trees”) on 50,000 ha. We are nearing Phase One completion and we hope to move the cheetahs early this year.
CCF and the Somaliland government are committed to working together to find sustainable solutions for cheetah conservation and rural development in Somaliland. The tours and knowledge-sharing initiatives are an important step in this process and will help ensure that the future of cheetahs in the Horn of Africa is secure.
Caption: The Somaliland delegation visited a variety of conservation sites in Namibia, including Erindi Private Wildlife Reserve, Etosha National Park, Twyfelfontein, conservancies in the Kunene region and the CCF Centre. In Kenya, we visited Amboseli National Park, Tawi Conservancy, Kalama Conservancy, the Save The Elephants Camp in Samburu Game Reserve and the BigLife Foundation (BLF) Headquarters.
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