Archive 2021


Namibia’s Elephants – Population, Distribution and Trends

Backyard talk by Craig and Debbie Gibson on 2 December 2021

Namibia’s elephant population extends across the north of the country from the extreme north-west to the Zambezi region. Their distributions change seasonally in response to water availability and many of them move long distances between Namibia and its neighbours. The largest populations are found in the northeast of the country, in Khaudum/Nyae Nyae and Zambezi Region. Densities are very low in the extremely arid north-west and Etosha National Park but have recovered from historical over-hunting that almost exterminated them. The total population has increased since 1995. This talk presented the results of some of the research that has taken place over the years to monitor the distribution and trends of elephants in Namibia. Colin Craig’s 40 years of wildlife management, management planning, ecology, research and conservation in Africa began in National Parks in Zimbabwe where he became Chief Ecologist. In Botswana, he designed and established a system of country-wide aerial surveys of wildlife and from there came to Namibia. After 4 years as Chief Conservation Scientist in MET, he has spent 20 years as a wildlife consultant working mainly on aerial surveys in Mozambique and Namibia. Colin is an active member of the IUCN African Elephant Specialist Group. Deborah Gibson was a Principal Ecologist in Zimbabwe’s Department of National Parks where her research focused on monitoring and aerial surveys for 9 years. As a freelance consultant for 28 years, she has undertaken a variety of conservation work with emphasis on establishing monitoring systems and conducting aerial surveys of wildlife in Southern and West Africa. She is an active member of the IUCN African Elephant Specialist Group.

Spatial Ecology and Population Genetics of the Zebra species of Etosha National Park

Public talk by Kenneth Uiseb about a research project on 29 November 2021

This research project is aimed at assessing and understanding the mechanisms and intensities of hybridization in natural populations of Hartmann’s Mountain zebra (Equus zebra hartmannae) and plains zebra (Equus quagga) using integrated genetics and ecological approaches. Kenneth Uiseb works for the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism as Head of Wildlife Research and Monitoring in the Directorate of Scientific Services. Kenneth is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, Johannesburg. He has a Master’s Degree in Environmental Management from the University of the Free State in South Africa and has diverse research interests in the fields of wildlife ecology, community-based natural resources management, protected area management and financing, hybridization.

Oil in the Kavango? All Risk, No Reward for Namibia

Backyard talk by Matt Totten Jr. on 16 November 2021

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Oil and gas exploration in Namibia’s Kavango region as well as aggressive stock promotion by Canadian company ReconAfrica has spiked local and international interest in the Okavango River Basin. ReconAfrica promises their oil and gas project will generate vast riches for investors, boost the Namibian economy, and cause no lasting harm to the environment. Concerned citizens, scientists and activists warn the opposite. Like the Niger Delta before it, Namibia would pay far more in terms of permanent damage to its traditional communities, fertile agricultural lands, pristine ecosystems and precious water resources than any short term, foreign-dominated profit would generate. Mark Totten Jr. looked at the big picture by understanding what’s really going on in the Kavango. How has ReconAfrica’s geologic story, marketing campaigns and public communications changed since the project began? Who is shouldering the biggest risks of ReconAfrica’s turning drill bit? And who actually stands to benefit from oil exploration in the Kavango? This presentation aimed to address these questions from an earth science and petroleum industry expert’s perspective. Matt Totten Jr. received both his B.S. and M.S. Geology degrees from the University of Oklahoma, specializing in oil and gas. He then worked as an exploration and operations geologist for British Petroleum (BP) from 2010 to 2015. During his time with BP, Matt explored for deepwater oil and gas prospects, drilled deepwater conventional wells, and geo-steered several horizontal frack wells for onshore unconventional plays. Matt now lives in Windhoek and has been an outspoken critic of the Kavango exploration project since it became public knowledge in late 2020.

InterMuc Leopard Project

Public talk by Ruben Portas on 26 October 2021

InterMuc Leopard Project is a project run by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research of Berlin and the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia. The talk focused on the leopards roaming in the Khomas mountains surrounding Windhoek and within the Auas Oanob Conservancy crucial project partners. We provided basic data on diet and spatial ecology and presented some of the current research questions (the study of interactions among carnivores) as well as the methodology used to answer such questions.

S T U C K !

Public talk by Andrew Fordred on 19 October 2021

For talented Namibians who battle to find opportunities locally, this was not a sales pitch; this was an initiative to provide incentive and ambition for international work both in person or as an online business. It discussed opportunities, challenges, what is needed, where to start, and how much money can be made.