Following our earlier post in February 2019 on the training of Ju/hoansi San wildlife monitoring team members, we implemented a trial monitoring programme over a period of three months (March to May). The patrols were carried out on foot by two patrol teams, who repeatedly surveyed sections of the Namibian border-fenceline as well as adjacent habitats (See Maps below).
Under challenging conditions, the team covered more than 700km of mostly remote and uninhabited terrain, in the process obtaining valuable data on wildlife distributions and movement patterns, sex-ratios, direction of movement and movements across the decaying border fence-line. Data for all large mammals was collected, for example: elephant, eland, gemsbok, kudu, roan, wild dog, hyaena, leopard and others.
The results indicate, inter-alia, that there is a high frequency of cross-border widlife movement (despite the fence still mostly being upright) and that vast areas on the Botswana side are still intact ecologically, but need improved connectivity with Namibian habitats in order for further rehabilitation of wildlife population numbers to take place via in-migration from Namibia. Predators were however found to be surprisingly low in number, and this is most likely due to a combination of wildlife poisonings over the years by farmers on the Botswna side and over-selection of males in trophy hunting oprations on the Namibian side (in the case of leopard).
This is a very special initiative that the community is proud to be involved in, as they identify strongly with its purpose. They see their work here as being integral to their long-term efforts to preserve their land, cultural identity and natural resources, all of which are vital to their current and future well-being.
The project has a number of valuable outputs, in that it:
The programme urgently needs funding support to enable it to continue and develop further. We need to train and include more team members, get the teams better equipped, and expand the programme to include other interested communities, thereby also expanding the extent of the border area and total wildlife habitat area under regular monitoring observation.