Margaret Jacobsohn and Garth Owen-Smith were awarded the Prize in 1993 for their work to assist rural communities to link social and economic development to the conservation of the region’s spectacular wildlife and other natural resources.
Twenty years after winning the Prize, Namibians Garth Owen-Smith and Margaret Jacobsohn are still working in community-based conservation. But the small pioneering project that won them their joint award is now a national program that has put Namibia on the map in international conservation circles.
Today more than 80 Namibian communities – one in eight Namibians – are actively managing and benefitting from their wildlife through legally registered conservancies, covering more than 20% of the country. Wildlife is thriving and ordinary rural Namibians are directly benefitting from living with wild animals through income to their conservancies, jobs, game meat and diversification of their local economies. The program is now government-led, with more than 15 non-governmental organizations involved.
Making sure these projects are sustainable is currently a major focus of Jacobsohn and Owen-Smith, as they are trustees and directors of an upmarket safari company called Conservancy Safaris Namibia (CSN). The company is owned by nearly 2,000 semi-nomadic Himba herders in the remote and vast north-western corner of Namibia. These community conservancies are managing black rhino, desert adapted elephant, lions and other predators as well as giraffe, kudu, oryx, zebra and springbok.
CSN aims to replicate Namibia’s successful community-based conservation program using three key principles – ownership by communities themselves, their direct involvement and generation of tangible social and economic benefits. Expeditions are run by an experienced technical team and all guides are working conservationists. This, coupled with the fact that the Himba people view CSN clients as their guests, not just voyeuristic tourists with cameras, makes for an unforgettable insider’s experience in a spectacular and diverse landscape, says Margie.
To learn move, visit Conservancy Safaris Namibia’s website: www.kcs-namibia.com.na