Are you making the most of your wildlife resource?

As part of Government’s efforts to boost economic development, ten industries with potential for growth were identified and strategies developed to unlock the growth potential.  Amongst these were the “Game Meat industry and Associated Value Chain” and the “Taxidermy Industry and Associated Value Chain”.  Following the official launch of the growth strategies in November 2016, activities so far have included stakeholder meetings at which an annual operational plan was developed for each of the industries, and the formation of Steering Committees with representation from public and private stakeholders, as well as working groups to spearhead specific activities.  

 

Both of these value chains share a common beginning – and that is the farmer (or producer) of wildlife – which in Namibia’s case covers free-hold and communal land.  It is thus imperative that any strategy for these industries consider the challenges and needs of the Namibian farmer.

 

As a semi-arid to arid country, with variable and erratic rainfall patterns, Namibia is already a challenging enough environment for farming - and the prognosis going forward is that things will not be getting easier.  Land degradation in the form of deterioration of rangelands (including the loss of perennial grasses) and bush encroachment are already negatively affecting the production potential of land, and with the impact of Climate Change, rainfall is expected to become even more variable, and conditions more challenging.

 

One way of building resilience to these challenges is to diversify income streams – and many Namibian farmers are already doing this through the utilization of wildlife, whether through own use; trophy hunting; tourism; live sales; biltong hunting or shoot for sale of meat.  The underlying understanding behind the growth strategies is that there is still untapped potential in the wildlife industry to increase the value to the producer (contributing to increased income per hectare of land) as well as along the entire value chain, with opportunities for value addition for both the local and export markets.

 

There are however existing challenges and barriers that need to be tackled and potential new markets that need to be explored before the full value can be realized.  

 

The game meat industry
It is estimated that Namibia has close to 3 million head of game, which is a figure similar to that of cattle, sheep and goats.  The majority of this is actually found outside formally proclaimed parks, and is thus potentially available for sustainable utilisation.  

 

Although in the past game meat might have been seen as an inferior product, with the evolution of the health-conscious consumer seeking meat with a low fat content and a more favourable fatty acid composition than beef or lamb, this image has changed.  Namibian game meat and meat products tend to be superior in taste and appearance, as Namibian game is free range and grazing contributes to the meat’s nutritional and sensory quality – offering a key unique selling point. 

 

There has been a considerable increase in game meat production in Namibia since Independence. Quantifying the volumes is not easy as there are no consolidated official figures available, and at least a portion of the consumption takes place out of the formal market (e.g. own use).  Namibian game meat exports, however, have been inconsistent, with volumes fluctuating between less than 100 tons to more than 2 000 tons per year between 2001 and 2013.  Then exports dramatically decreased, due to the cessation of exports to the EU due to contamination concerns.  It is estimated that Namibia could be losing more than N$ 30 million annually alone by not exporting to the EU.
The taxidermy industry

 

Although the word taxidermy may bring to mind hunting trophies and natural museum specimens, the industry is in fact much broader than this.  In the Nature Conservation Ordinance (4 of 1975), “Trophy” means the skin, shell, feet or head, or any part thereof; of game or any other wild animal…”

 

Recently some shifts have taken place which have given the industry new opportunities for growth. As one example, worldwide trend towards ‘bringing nature back into homes’, as this also includes the use of processed animals as upscale home décor items. Wildlife products are also featuring in the tourism décor space.  

 

Due to these developments, taxidermy products are used in art, fashion and design in increasingly innovative and trendy ways.  This trend is an opportunity for Namibian taxidermists and artists to broaden their product ranges and improve their businesses.  It also provides a means to maximize the economic value from every animal harvested, by making sure that all parts are utilized.
Some of the key interventions identified for both strategies include:

  • Exploring markets and developing a brand
  • Creating awareness of opportunities
  • Examining the regulatory framework, identifying barriers, and influencing policy and legislation accordingly
  • The creation of a relevant association to facilitate marketing and legislative reform.

 

For comments, further information or if you would like to become involved, please contact Dr. Pauline Lindeque, Agra ProVision at :
Paulinel@agra.com.na or 061-290 9345 or 0811272978.
 

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