Mammal species composition and diversity of the Nyae Nyae Communal Conservancy, Otjozondjupa Region, Namibia
The emergence of the communal conservancies in Namibia contributed to community-based conservation approach outside protected areas. This study was conducted to establish the status of biodiversity conservation of the Nyae Nyae Conservancy by analysing the mammal species composition and diversity changes for 13 years. The long-term wildlife count data were obtained from the conservancy in Tsumkwe, Otjozondjupa region. A total of 20 mammal species, comprising of ungulates and predators, were recorded from 2001 through 2013. The overall trend of the mammal species population sizes was positive, though not statistically significant (r = 0.477; t10 = 1.574; P = 0.145). In addition to the stable species composition over the years, the mammal species diversity in Nyae Nyae conservancy was high (Simpson Index of Diversity, SID = 0.81). However, a significant decline in the diversity of mammal species (SID = 0.72) was detected in 2013 evident from the low species count data. This low diversity may be attributable to many factors including but not limited to the effects of severe drought which may have led to the emigration of some species, reduction in the abundance of some species due to deaths from drought and low reproductive output. Hence Nyae Nyae Conservancy, though an open unfenced system, serves as a good example in which a community-based natural management program outside protected areas contributes not only to the conservation of natural resources including wildlife but also utilisation of these resources for the benefit of local community members.