My heart and soul is in Namibia: Laurie MarkerJuly 5, 2012
Mary Seely: The power to inspireJuly 5, 2012
When Marthin Kasaona graduated from Braunfels Agricultural High School in 1998, he was like many young Namibians – he had a basic education, big dreams and empty pockets. But he had luck on his side.
During school holidays Marthin visited his brother who works at Skeleton Coast Safaris’ (SCS) Quidas Camp in Damaraland. When he was accepted at the Polytechnic of Namibia in 2000, SCS offered to help pay for his tuition. “Since I come from Sesfontein, they probably thought I was just some desperate guy, but they helped me anyway,” says Marthin.
Since then neither SCS nor Marthin has looked back. Marthin changed from studying agriculture to nature conservation. “Growing up in the Kunene, I saw how agriculture and conservation are linked in our country. This is the direction in which I wanted to head.” He changed his field of studies, enrolling in the National Diploma in Natural Resource Management (Nature Conservation). But he also wanted to know what was happening elsewhere in Namibia. As part of his in-service training, Marthin worked for the IRDNC in the Caprivi, looking at problem-animal control. After doing a project on vegetation in the Kuiseb River with DRFN, he graduated from the Polytechnic in 2003.
In 2004 Marthin went to the Port Elizabeth Technikon where he completed his Bachelor of Technology degree. As part this course Marthin researched and published a paper entitled ‘Management Plan for Namibia’s most endangered species: the Gyps coprotheres (Cape vulture).’ “Even though I was studying in South Africa, I wanted to approach my degree from a Namibian perspective. The Cape vulture isn’t endangered in South Africa, but it is here, and it is important to understand why if we are going to change this. It’s a long-term issue.”
Marthin understands long-term issues well. He wishes to further his career, to continue studying and, as he put it, ‘to gain knowledge’. But this too takes time and money. He has recently been accepted at Charles Darwin University in Australia for a master’s degree in tropical environment management. Skeleton Coast Safaris is keen to continue sponsoring him, but Marthin also needs financial support from others to make this possible.
“I intend continuing my studies abroad, but I’ll always return to Namibia. I want to go back to the north, to where I was raised, and to share my experiences with young people there. I want them to know that whatever field they study, and wherever they live, conservation is a part of life.”
This article appeared in the 2005/6 edition of Conservation and the Environment in Namibia.