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  • Writer's pictureEtosha-Kunene Histories

Etosha-Kunene Histories project hosts successful online international workshop

Earlier this month the Etosha-Kunene Histories project, a collaboration between the University of Namibia, Bath Spa University, the University of Cologne and Namibia's Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, hosted a successful two-day online international research workshop.

Entitled "Etosha-Kunene Conservation Conversations: knowing, protecting and being-with nature, from Etosha Pan to the Skeleton Coast" the workshop drew together around 30 participants overall.

Participants and paper authors came from diverse backgrounds in relation to the Etosha-Kunene regional focus of the project. In Namibia they included the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, the Lion Rangers Programme, Save the Rhino Trust, the University of Namibia, Ongava Research Centre, Gobabeb Namib Research Institute, Etendeka Mountain Camp and Tsintsabis Trust. We also welcomed colleagues at Oxford Brooks University, the University of the Witwatersrand, the University of Aberdeen, Universität Hamburg, School for Field Studies - Kenya Programme, University of Goettingen, and the University of Wageningen.

The aim of the workshop was to support an in-depth, cross-disciplinary, multi-stakeholder conversation about conservation histories and concerns, focusing on the variously connected Etosha-Kunene areas of north-west Namibia. The Principal Investigators of the project, which is funded by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Council and the German Research Foundation, have long-term research experience in this area, as demonstrated by their prior work.

Kenneth |Uiseb, Deputy Director of Wildlife Resources and Monitoring, Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, reported that:

It was a great pleasure for me to be part of the Virtual Etosha-Kunene Workshop that took place in July 2022. The research papers presented at the workshop brought to fore the underlying historical and cultural issues that still influence present day conservation policy-making. The workshop also presented some important findings that has potential to positively influence community-based approaches to natural resources management [CBNRM]. The most important highlight was presentations on the historical associations of the local communities with the landscape, and how through creation of protected areas colonial conservation and political policies removed these communities from areas they historically had cultural and historical ties with. It is very important that historical aspects, including cultural and traditional access to some of the protected areas are integrated in post-colonial conservation policies and practice.

Commitment by the Leadership Team for Namibia’s Lion Rangers Program concerned with 'lions, livelihoods and wildlife conservation in northwest Namibia' meant that we were able to devote an entire workshop panel to lion conservation issues. These present particular challenges for communities and conservationists living and working in Etosha-Kunene. John Heydinger, Mathilde Brassine and Uenkendisa Muzuma write that:

The conference was a great opportunity for researchers and practitioners from diverse disciplines and fields to deepen our perspectives on this landscape many of us have dedicated ourselves to and even call home. The productive discussions and thoughtful insights remind us as the Lion Rangers program Leadership Team, that our research and conservation interventions take place within a complicated, even complex, social and ecological landscape where political and economic legacies continue to have more-than-human survival and livelihood effects. We look forward to further opportunities to engage with our colleagues around many of the issues raised.

We agree with these statements, and look forward to future focused and productive conversations in support of Etosha-Kunene conservation and histories.

For the full workshop programme and abstracts see here:

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