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University of South Africa (2021)

Investigating local participation in tourism and the protection of black rhinos in North-Western Namibia : a case study of HUAB Conservancy

Malherbe, Andrew Russell

Titre : Investigating local participation in tourism and the protection of black rhinos in North-Western Namibia : a case study of HUAB Conservancy

Auteur : Malherbe, Andrew Russell

Université de soutenance : University of South Africa

Grade : M.A. (Development Studies) 2021

Résumé
Globally, poaching has been identified as one of the most urgent threats facing rhino conservation. In the communal lands of north-western Namibia, the loss of the unique desert-adapted black rhino population would have significant economic and environmental consequences. Rhino tracking tourism has provided steadily increasing financial and conservation returns to Namibian communal conservancy residents for over a decade. However, little is known about local perceptions of rhinos and rhino-based tourism. This study aims to contribute to a growing school of thought that promotes the role of local people in wildlife conservation and sustainable development in rural areas. Using a mixed-method approach for data gathering, a total of 48 conservancy members were interviewed at their homesteads in //Huab conservancy, north-western Namibia. Thematic analysis was employed to establish recurring themes in qualitative answers. Findings show that cash payments to conservancies may not be the best method of distributing benefits from tourism. In addition, low levels of basic knowledge about the tourism enterprise and the conservancy in general highlight governance challenges. Despite this, the study found that rhinos are favourably perceived by the residents of the conservancy and that tourism is seen by conservancy members as a positive driver for rural development in the area and has the potential to reduce poaching. The study concludes that the transfer of ownership over wildlife to rural people can be an effective mechanism to drive positive environmental and social outcomes, in line with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. It is important to note, however, that challenges such as poor governance persist. Adaptive management and flexibility should therefore feature prominently in the implementation of community-based natural resource management initiatives.

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