In a bid to reinvigorate the Palmwag Concession stakeholders’ passion for the land and wildlife, John Kasaona, Executive Director at Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC) in Namibia initiated a proposed 100km foot-transect of the concession from Wêreldsend to Sesfontein.
Converging at Wêreldsend, the group of 11 included “desert adapted” individuals whose daily job is to conduct patrols in their respective neighbouring conservancies. Commonly referred to as The Big 3, these are Torra, Anabeb and Sesfontein Conservancies.
Also included in the group were individuals representing three NGO’s: IRDNC, Round River and NACSO as well as private sector tour operator, Wilderness Safaris, all of whom traded their air-conditioned offices in the city for a vast biodiversity-rich conservation “office”, also trading their stylish urban shoes for walking boots. But perhaps the biggest trade-off was the mild and comfortable highland savannah weather for the harsh and unforgiving semi-desert to desert conditions of the northwest.
It was a very bold decision for the three city-dwellers; however an unrelenting passion for conservation inspired their decision to take part in the walk. They wanted to feel, hear, see and live the conservation they so often claim to be “experts” on. But more importantly, they wanted to rub shoulders and connect with those in the frontline that are often unnoticed, unrecognised and voiceless in boardroom conservation deliberations and discussions that take place far from the extreme heat, rugged terrain and life-threatening wildlife encounters of the Palmwag Concession.
Parties and individuals without whom the patrol could not have taken place, and who require individual thanks, are…
• Rob Moffett and Ketji Jermain of Wilderness Safaris for personally making the walk a reality
• Erika, Raymond and staff for the warm welcome and meal at Desert Rhino Camp
• Namibia Tourism Board for the backpacks, distributed to the neediest conservancies to resume their foot patrols now that the walk has been completed
• Fritz and Kapoi from Palmwag Lodge and Peter Kasaona for his unexpected and outstanding cooking skills
• Round River Conservation Studies – Rebekah and Willy (AKA Range Finder) for being part of the patrol and doing much of the game data capturing. Rebekah for providing first aid services throughout.
• Save The Rhino Trust – Zebulon and Bertus for being part of the patrol team; Theresia, Justus and Ricky for the support
• NACSO, Maxi for the generous donations of food and for chairing the campfire discussions
• The Big 3 – Ronald Karutjaiva, Steven Kasaonaand Pienaar Kasupi for guiding us through their concessions
• IRDNC for providing Philemon the veteran tracker – he could run all day!
• Wandi Tsanes for volunteering to cook for the group at Wêreldsend. Thanks also to Sokoi Kasaona who coordinated the backup team, doing an excellent job of preparing the camp and food for everyone as well as packing up and taking care of our valuables in the vehicle.
John is understandably proud of this entirely home-grown Namibian initiative. In all, the patrol covered 135 km in four-and-a-half days, recording all the wildlife, as well as “GPSing” the route. With this renewed on-the-ground presence and monitoring, Palmwag Concession stakeholders are re-dedicating themselves to fighting poachers, livestock intrusion and abusive land use.