Some of my very first memories are of seeing a bright white flower as it glowed in the early morning light from its perch on a trumpet-thorn bush. Or of the feel of a shepherd tree’s bark under my fingers. The most visceral memory is probably the ice-cold sting of the early morning air biting your cheeks on the back of the ancient Cruiser bakkie as it dips and weaves along the two-track path through acacia bushland. Many of you, many Namibians, know that sting well. The cold so invigorating that it ignites a fire inside. For it is the best kind of wake-up call. Better even than the dramatic hues of red and gold that accompany the sun rising to the east. The one that ensures you that you will be spending the day where your soul feels most alive. In the wilderness.
The 2022/23 issue of Huntinamibia is dedicated to the most important question we can find in our community and the broader popular opinion today: Why does hunting matter? The issue is not meant to preach to the converted. The stories inside are of course meant to entertain, inform and inspire, but they are also meant to reinvigorate the spirit within all of us. Your spirit as a hunter and conservationist. To reinstill that firm and tangible knowledge that what you do, what you are passionate about, matters. Especially if done right.
On another level, many of the stories contained in these pages are also aimed at those who are unfamiliar with that clarifying, invigorating, cold sting on the cheeks only found in the wilderness… Those not lucky enough to have grown up or been able to experience the adventure and soul-finding that happens on the back of a bakkie in Africa. Or trekking on foot through some of the earth’s last true wild places. This is a collection of new stories that focus on our topic, combined with some of the very best stories from past issues that prove the point. They are stories from our hearts and minds to theirs. To try and explain, through facts and figures, reason and logic, or sometimes through emotion which they wield as their most comforting tool, why hunting matters. An almost impossible feat to be sure, but as hunters, conservationists, nature-lovers, and Namibians, we are nothing if not hardy and determined people. People for whom the idea of giving up is as far-fetched, unlikely and near-impossible as finding a polar bear while glassing the Kaokoland plains.
The 2022 issue of Huntinamibia is a collection of stories that matter. A good hunting story, I have learnt, allows you to smell the veld around you as your eyes travel across the words. To feel the soft wind rustle around you. Hear the crack of a branch in the brush. Taste the morning dew. A good hunting story has your heart yearning for the African bush and desert plains, but also makes you take a moment to pause and think. Whether the moment is as short as the breath the hunter takes before pulling the trigger, or as languid as the hours spent before traversing rugged terrains in search of the quarry. A good hunting story leads your soul to ponder and then appreciate the whys. Why do we love nature? Why do we feel most alive outside? Why do we care so much about preserving it? Why do we continue to rally, fight and rage despite seemingly insurmountable odds, against the dying of the light. Why does hunting matter?
Thank you to those of you who once again shared your stories with us and continue to allow us the great honour of sharing those stories with the world. Stories that matter and definitively prove why hunting does, too. For conservancies and rural communities. For landscape-level conservation, population management and economic development. For that sense of ownership, pride, passion and tradition. You will find in this issue the true power behind the passion. We unpack why Namibia’s conservancy model and hunting partnerships between private companies and rural communities is a driving force for positive change. We rediscover the importance of hunting to the growth of wildlife populations and land under sustainable management and the role private landowners play in continuously advancing this. We rediscover why we hunt – heritage, passion and purpose at play.
I could not have put this publication together without the firm support of the NAPHA team and our two greatest allies when it comes to the pages of Huntinamibia – Rièth van Schalkwyk who was the editor for 21 years and built a legacy through which we can advocate and share Namibia’s hunting and conservation stories with the world, and Kai-Uwe Denker, who, more than almost anyone else I know, carries the flame for Namibian hunting and a passion for doing things the right way like a torch through our darkest hours.
Happy hunting, exploring, conserving, appreciating and advocating,