SADC Regional Programme for Rhino Conservation
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Community Participation
Awareness programmes for schools

West Kunene, Namibia

Economic analysis

Community participation through a rhino endowment model

Community Participation

The involvement of local communities and stakeholders has been widely recognised as a key factor for the success of wildlife conservation initiatives. Rhinos are flagship species for biodiversity conservation in Africa . Their conservation attracts considerable interest and public support world-wide. In Africa there is a need to translate this biodiversity value into a tangible economic benefit for conservation to succeed, through development of ecotourism, identification of incentives, employment creation, etc. This goal also needs the support of adequate awareness raising and information dissemination activities.

The SADC region has a relatively long and broad experience in community-based natural resource management, including consumptive and non-consumptive use of wildlife. These experiences have produced a wealth of lessons on opportunities and constraints. Besides technical and scientific considerations, they generally underline the essential role played by governance systems in ensuring effective resource management and their sustainable exploitation.

Owing to poaching risks, rhino conservation requires strong law enforcement capabilities and considerable financial resources; and the monitoring and management of biological factors affecting rhino populations need significant technical and scientific expertise and means. These aspects are crucial for rhino conservation efforts at national and regional levels. On the other hand, the extent, role, opportunities and constraints for the active participation of local communities in rhino conservation have been somehow less defined and documented in the region.

The SADC RPRC carried out a compilation of available studies and information on the involvement of local communities in different schemes associated with the conservation of rhinoceros in the region. The range and scope of information available was fairly limited. Nevertheless, the initial regional review pointed out that:

·         So-called CBNRM type activities have not been a key factor in the region for rhino conservation (i.e., successes have been achieved mainly through traditional conservation approaches and failures have been produced by a range of factors including overriding social factors);

·         Few (but important) initiatives of involvement of communities (rural communities in communal lands and/ or adjacent to protected / private areas) are being developed in the region; and

·         In the future, the issue is likely to become of increasing significance in the region, due to broader social factors, change in patterns of land use and expected growth of rhino populations.