An Arid Eden: A Personal Account of Conservation in the Kaokoveld, by Garth Owen-Smith
Until the late twentieth century the Kaokoveld was one of the least known parts of Southern Africa. Garth Owen-Smith introduces to an arid Eden. This book is his personal account of conservation in the Kaokoveld and the story of an exciting and fulfilling life.
Isolated by the Skeleton Coast, rugged mountain ranges, and a strictly enforced entry permit system, the Kaokoveld was romanticised as a place where wildlife abounded and the local tribes were still unaffected by the modern world. Although this was mostly true before 1970, since then the regions residents and its natural resources have undergone dramatic changes, which resulted in the collapse of the pastoral economy and almost led to the extermination of its big game. As one of the few people left that knew the Kaokoveld before and after the disastrous events of the 1970s and early 1980s, and having also been involved in the efforts to stop the poaching, I felt a responsibility to record what happened and why - especially in the forgotten years before Namibia's independence. This is, therefore, my personal account of an African conservation success story, and a tribute to the men and women, black and white, who in a big or small way contributed to it. I have mostly used my own experiences, as a participant or bystander, supplemented by reports written at the time, magazine articles and press cuttings. But they alone cannot tell the whole story, and inevitably there will be comissions and different perspectives on what is recorded here. A major shortcoming is my coverage of the southern Kaokoveld, which is because I did not work there in the 1960s and was only marginally involved in this part of the region from 1982 to date. To those who feel that their roles are not adequately represented I offer my apologies, and hope that they will one day write their accounts of the events not in these pages, thereby making the record more complete. History can be boring if it consists only of what happened, when and where. To make the book more interesting and useful I have also discussed how things were done, and given my interpretation of why they happened. To really understand what took place in the Kaokoveld it is necessary to know the political context that we worked in. For this reason chapters on my life away from the region between 1971 and 1981 have been included. Apart from giving continuity to the story, and a background to how nature conservation was then practised, they touch on the two defining features of this period in Southern African history: racial discrimination and the liberation struggles it spawned. A second reason for writing the book is to document what I have learnt over 40 years about the regions wildlife and people, as well as the management of its rangelands. It has been written in layman's terms so that non-academics will be able to understand how the Kaokoveld ecosystem functioned before and after the introduction of European ways of managing livestock. To this end, chapter 11 includes a brief lecture' on ecology that will help those who did not study this vital subject at school or university. Thirdly, although the book is not about Namibia's world-renowned community-based natural resource management programme, which is still evolving and now includes many different players, it is about the foundation laid that enabled it to take place. However, the last three chapters on the post-independence period do briefly cover how the rights and responsibilities over wildlife were devolved to local communities, the programme's achievements, as well as the opportunities and challenges it still faces. [...]
This is an excerpt from An Arid Eden: A Personal Account of Conservation in the Kaokoveld, by Garth Owen-Smith.
Title: An Arid Eden
Subtitle: A Personal Account of Conservation in the Kaokoveld
Author: Garth Owen-Smith
Genre: Environment, Wildlife
Publisher: Jonathan Ball Publishers South Africa
Cape Town; Johannesburg; South Africa, 2011
ISBN 9781868423637 / ISBN 978-1-86842-363-7
Softcover, 15 x 23 cm, 620 pages
Owen-Smith, Garth im Namibiana-Buchangebot
'An Arid Eden' is Garth Owen-Smith's personal account of his life dedicated to conservation in the Kaokoveld, Namibia.