What do conservancies really do? This is the main question that led the students to embark on a ten day fact-finding mission where they discovered that a conservancy is an area that is set for purposes of wildlife protection. The managers of several communal conservancies provided the students with information such as the daily challenges they face as they work to protect rhinos, and generally minimise human and wildlife conflict caused mostly by elephants and spotted hyenas.
The conservancies not only aim to protect the environment, they are also keen on sustainable management and utilising natural resources to the economic benefit of communities. For example, the Himba women extract and sell perfume from an indigenous plant known as Commiphora Wildii.
The trip covered a range of areas including Hoanib, Puros and Sesfontein where the group saw mysterious fairy circles and soil exposed to severe erosion due to overgrazing and deforestation. Real life stories from conservationists such as Dr Axel from the ‘Save the Rhino Trust,’ coupled with the documentaries that the group watched, provided insight to what happens on the ground during conservation efforts.
One of the students, Ailla-Tessa Iyambula, said the trip achieved its purpose of preparing them for the future when they become Natural Resources Managers and it further gave the group a deep appreciation of the work that conservancies do.