Cheetah Conservation Fund’s Community Development Department team attended the Okakarara Trade Fair, which runs for a week in early September and CCF attends annually. CCF set up a booth, talks to farmers, introduces them to our programs, offers advice and assistance with livestock management techniques to reduce Human Wildlife Conflict and improve health of their livestock, as well as engaging with local school children with fun activities to expose them to the importance of healthy ecosystems and conservation.
Our representing team included one of our new staff members Veisy Kasaona, Community Development Officer, and Nelson Maamberua, one of the Okamatapati Community Game Guards, who assists the team in our field work in the Okakarara communal conservancies, where drought and conflict with carnivores is taking a high toll on their livelihood, livestock farming. Okakarara is part of our focal areas for human-wildlife conflict projects and Future Farmers of Africa workshops and trainings.
The Okakarara Trade Fair is an annual event which was first started in 2007 as a way to bring livestock farmers in the communal areas together to showcase their prime breeding animals, as well as sharing ideas on how they can help improve farming methods. Other exhibitors are engaged in, for instance, the selling of agricultural equipment and supplies with vehicles for sale placed around the fairground on open stands. Because Okakarara is a rural area, agriculture is important, and so the trade fair is a great opportunity to attract investment to the town, and it also allows communal farmers to showcase their livestock breeds.
Part of the work CCF does is building capacity with the local rangers and collaboration within the Community Based Natural Resource Management program encouraging local communities living with wildlife to take ownership and protect the wildlife living on their lands. Since 1996, Namibia’s Community Based Natural Resource Management Programme has combined policy and legal reforms, which includes the granting of resource rights to local members of communal conservancies. Having one of the local Community Game Guard’s at the CCF booth also exposed the work of the Rangers within their areas, sharing with the farming communities what the roles and responsibilities are of the Wildlife Rangers.
CCF is a member of the Greater Waterberg Landscape within Namibia’s conservancy program. Namibia’s system of communal conservancies are considered one of the most successful ways to manage natural resources and combat poverty. Benefits of Community based Natural Resource Management include: job training, livelihood development for women, increased populations of wildlife, sustainable tourism development, and managing livestock to prevent overgrazing in areas.
Cheetah Conservation Fund was awarded a Certificate for “Outstanding Achievement” at the Okakarara Trade Fair this year. This award was given in recognition of CCF’s outstanding information sharing with visitors to the trade fair. CCF was able to effectively share its mission with numerous guests and school groups, educating them the importance of cheetah and other predators like the African Wild Dog in a balanced ecosystem.