Now she has four, but nevertheless does two month patrols on a donkey cart with her tent and bedroll. She sleeps among the farmers and helps to provide conservancy support services. She brands cattle, repairs water installations, and anything else that will persuade farmers that wildlife conservation is worthwhile.
On a typical day, she has come to hear about a sheep taken by predators. Last Sunday a shepherd saw his flock running from something and he gave chase. But too late -‐ a caracal had killed one of the flock. He shows the carcass to Landine, who records the incident in the conservancy event book, taking care to identify the predator species using pictures that people can easily understand.
The event book is important. Game guards use them across Namibia’s 79 communal conservancies to record the wildlife they see, as well as stock losses. Landine is the senior environmental shepherd at #Khoadi-//Hôas and she often makes up the monthly report from these daily records.
At the end of the year a ‘blue book’ tallies the annual events which, together with the North‐West Game count, give a pretty accurate picture of wildlife in Kunene Region.
The reporting is important for another reason. The conservancy pays some compensation to farmers for stock losses: N$250 for a sheep and N$1,000 for a cow. It goes some way to alleviate the losses suffered by farmers to predators, although market rates are higher.
Game guards are the heart and soul of conservation. Although conservancies earn revenue from trophy hunting, and some do very well from joint venture partnership with lodges, hunting and tourism would make little income if there were no wildlife.
Game guards like Landine are the eyes and ears of the community, and since their introduction poaching has dropped dramatically.
In Kunene water is crucial. This year has seen the return of drought. Landine says that wildlife is leaving the protected areas to look for water. Elephants have always been a danger, but now zebras are invading farms. It’s no joke, says Landine. “They bite!”
If there is no rain next season the younger cattle will survive because the farms pump water, but wildlife will die in great numbers.
The environmental shepherd is in the middle of it all, assisting farmers, protecting wildlife and balancing the interests of both.
Recently ten elephants confronted Landine, including calves. She simply turned her donkey cart around. She doesn’t mind admitting that she is afraid of lions. “But what must I do?” She asks, “I love my job. I sleep peacefully in the field – no problems.”
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