Concerns has been raised during a recent stakeholder meeting that income derived wild horses as a tourist attraction in the far south of the //Kharas Region does not optimally benefit the surrounding communities.
In an interview with New Era, Jan Scholtz, the !Nami#Nüs Constituency Councillor explained these horses have been recognised in the proposed management plan from the meeting as 'Horses of the Namib' because of the value they hold in tourism and furthermore as part of Namibia's cultural heritage.
One of the primary objectives that emanates from the plan was "to enable the realisation of full economic potential of the horses to the neighbouring communities and the country in general," the councillor emphasised.
During this meeting between the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, //Kharas Regional Council and other relevant stakeholders, it has been recommended that the tourism concession should be awarded to the Aus community, which shall include photographic tourism through drives, walks and view hides.
Furthermore, it has been decided that it should be in the form of a joint-venture partnership with an appropriate organisation or development partner who shall ensure appropriate long-term management of the horses and the preparation and implementation of a business plan to generate income and benefits.
"In order to manage horses in the Garub Managed Resource Zone, there is a need to conduct awareness and conduct with the relevant stakeholders on specific measures and interventions," said Scholtz. He furthermore informed New Era that the community of Aus has been identified as the representative community for the management and benefit from these wild horses.
The specific objective for the management plan will be to "oversee that the horses of the Namib contribute to regional development and economic development of the region, as well as ensuring the benefits to the Aus community," stressed the councillor.
"This management plan will ensure the protection of the wild horses which will resort under the Ministry of Environment and Tourism," he further explained.
Scholtz cautioned that the community organize themselves proper this time by putting a well-established structure in place that will benefit the community. "They should look for a proper partner in order to ensure that the bad experiences of the past whereby the community was at the losing end does not repeat itself," he further elaborated.
In conclusion, Scholtz felt that a certain percentage of the income derived from the tourism aspect should be invested in capital projects like rural electrification.
Wild horses in the Namib dessert (who have been in existence over a century) are located at Garub in the Namib Naukluft Park and Tsau //Khaeb (Spergebbiet) National Park.
The population has however decreased from just over 170 to 60 due to the effects of drought and predation from spotted hyenas that in recent years have targeted the foals and weak animals.