Southern Boundary Fence-line Projects
THE HOBATERE SOUTHERN BOUNDARY FENCE PROJECT
A tale of success and of struggle for consistency, the Hobatere Southern Boundary Fence Programme reveals the challenges that exist when multiple stakeholders are required to collaborate over time.
The Southern Boundary of the Hobatere Concession Area is a hot-spot for human-wildlife conflict, particularly lion-farmer conflict. A 20km poorly fenced boundary separates Hobatere from the Marienhoehe & Kamdescha communities of the #Khoa di // Hoas Conservancy, which enables lion to easily migrate out of the protected area onto communal farmland and access to an easy new prey-base, namely livestock.
A request, in 2004, from the Headman of the Conservancy prompted AfriCat to help strengthen the Southern Boundary fence, to reduce cross-border movement of lion. AfriCat provided working materials and food for the farmers who volunteered, motivated by the desire to protect their livelihood. The community members continued to patrol the fence and to maintain it over the next few years, successfully. During this period, livestock losses to lion were reduced from 50 animals to less than 10 per year.
Fast forward to 2017, the Southern Boundary fence, which did its job so magnificently, is now dilapidated, in need of complete reconstruction. A number of factors have contributed to the decline in functionality, not least lack of ‘buy-in’ by the various stakeholders, elevated expense of maintenance to the farming community and wildlife movement itself.
Whatever the reason, it is a sad testimony to the fact that, no matter the success of a project, it MUST have long term commitment, and practical engagement, from all stakeholders.
The Hobatere Southern Boundary Fence Project does fortunately have another chapter! The #Khoa di // Hoas Conservancy and Marienhoehe/Kamdescha farming community have demonstrated a new-found buy-in and commitment to change, they are as engaged and committed as their Headman in 2004, to do something about their border, their wildlife losses, and recognise potential for co-existence and preventative measures to limit livestock losses to wildlife. AfriCat is committed, thanks to new donors, to complete reconstruction of this effective fence in 2018
ETOSHA BOUNDARY FENCE PROJECT
In 2016, Etosha National Park took the decision to reconstruct their border around its Kaross Block (situated on the south-western corner of Etosha NP). An elephant-and predator-proof fence is being erected, and the goal is to electrify it to prevent all wildlife movement in, or out, of this section of Etosha.
Inspired by this renewed fencing project, in 2017 and 2018 AfriCat’s senior Lion Guard, Jackson, organised a group of farmer-volunteers from the Ehi-Rovipuka Conservancy to assist the Etosha Ministry of Environment & Tourism (MET) to repair elephant breaks and holes dug by burrowing animals, thereby strengthening the fence further up the western Etosha border. AfriCat, in support of this initiative, provides working materials and food for approximately ten volunteers.
Extending this protective fence aims to ensure greater protection of livestock, and less Human-Wildlife Conflict for the Ehi-Rovipuka communities. The project reveals a new energy in farming communities to tackle problems proactively, rather than waiting for an attack to justify the persecution of large carnivores. The work is tiring, time-consuming and difficult, and yet they have chosen to engage in an enlightened approach to protect their livestock.
AfriCat, the volunteers, the farming community, and the MET continue to work together toward tolerance and co-existence.