Compiled Sanet van Zijl
Renowned nature conservationist Chris Eyre recently lost his battle with cancer at the age of 72. It is with admiration and appreciation that we look back now on all that he achieved for conservation in Namibia.
He started his career with what was then the Department of Nature Conservation, working with local communities in Kaokoland to stop poaching during the 1980s, and helped to initiate what is today the internationally recognised Namibian community conservation movement.
He worked at the Von Bach Dam, at Ganab in the Namib-Naukluft Park and at Otjovasandu in the Etosha National Park before being appointed as Principal Nature Conservationist at Khorixas in November 1980.
He worked in the north-west during the time when poaching was rife, a devastating drought led to a crash in wildlife populations and the desert rhino was close to extinction.
With fellow conservationists such as Lucas Mbomporo and long-time friend Garth Owen-Smith, Eyre contained poaching by working closely with traditional leaders and pioneered the community game guard system. Himba and Herero tribes selected knowledgeable individuals among them to patrol the region, shadowing the rhinos. By the end of 1985 the system had resulted in the convictions of over 60 people for illegal hunting.
After Independence, Eyre worked for the Ministry of Environment and Tourism until his retirement, and then continued to provide a range of technical support, especially to community conservation initiatives.
Few nature conservationists could match Chris Eyre’s dedication. In 2008, he was awarded the Ministry of Environment and Tourism’s Lifetime Achievement Award. It is the most prestigious award given by the ministry for dedication to conservation.
Read the story here of how Chris helped to make the Uukwaluudhi Conservancy a reality: https://www.travelnewsnamibia.com/archives/conservation-magazine/uukwaluudhi-conservancy-a-royal-dream-becomes-reali/#.VYv9lKZ7dnS