Namibia's poachers turned gamekeepers

Updated 10:19 PM ET, Tue October 23, 2012
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Much of Namibia's wildlife on communal land was critically endangered until the 1980s, but a radical rethink to make poachers 'game guards' reversed the fortunes of many community members and has led to a steady increase in animal numbers. courtesy wwf-namibia
For many Namibians living on communal lands during the period apartheid-era South Africa ruled Namibia, poaching springbok and zebra was the only way a family could stay fed, according to John Kasaona. courtesy wwf-namibia
The idea to make the community stewards of their land came from the Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC) in 1983. The idea was adopted more widely after independence with more "community conservancies" created after1990. courtesy wwf-namibia
"If people feel they really own a resource, if they feel they have responsibility for it, they're going to be accountable, and they're going to look after it," says Margaret Jacobsohn of the Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation. Courtesy wwf-namibia
Working closely with local communities is alsothe best way to make a success of tourism ideas like the Damaraland Camp eco-resort. courtesy wilderness safaris
When the government conservancy system started in 1996, there were four conservancies. Today there are 74 across Namibia, earning around $4million a year. Most of the money is from joint venture tourism, with trophy hunting following in at a distant second. courtesy wwf-namibia