By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK Efforts to conserve one of the world’s endangered species, the cheetah, have led to an initiative that will see Namibia export beef under a new label – the Cheetah Country Beef. Started three years ago, the initiative of the Cheetah Conservation Fund and its partners, the Conservancies Association of Namibia, Meatco and the Meat Board to export an eco label of meat for Namibian farmers is still in its pilot phase. It aims at finding a niche market for the beef, which is a way of helping farmers to fight for the survival of the endangered animal. By end June this year, which also marks the end of the pilot project, a pilot consignment of Cheetah Country Beef would have been exported to test the logistics of the initiative, according to Andre Mouton, Meatco’s Marketing Manager. Farmers who export the beef will be certified Cheetah Country Farmers and will be monitored as practising cheetah-friendly livestock management. In return for being good stewards to the land and wildlife on their farms, Cheetah Country Farmers will be paid a premium for the best beef they sell, while consumers in Europe, which Namibia feels is the niche market, will pay slightly more for this beef that is raised without harm to the endangered animal. Although the project is unique in that Namibia does not have experience, Mouton believes that having cheetah ambassadors for conservation can help. Last December, the project appointed a consultant to investigate the market for the product, whose report is expected in March. The premium for the farmers is yet to be determined, said Mouton, adding that he was optimistic and saw it as a niche market. Some of the benefits of Cheetah Country Beef are that it is healthy, good for the environment and predator friendly. For farmers to be certified Cheetah Country Farmers, they will have to sign an agreement that they will implement non-lethal predator control to avoid harming or killing cheetahs on their farmland. Namibia is home to the largest number of free ranging cheetahs and it holds 20 percent of the world’s population. About 95 percent of these cheetahs live on commercial farmland. “The survival of the cheetah is in the hands of Namibian farmers. By supporting Cheetah Country Beef, you are helping these farmers fight for the survival of this endangered animal,” says the Cheetah Conservation Fund. Cheetah Country Beef will give farmers who care for the environment a financial benefit while helping them to be stewards of the land when they practice livestock management that will not harm cheetahs. With this initiative, Cheetah Country Farmers are setting a standard for all cattle producers not only in Namibia but worldwide. Namibia’s main beef exporter, Meatco, acts as an example for other businesses in putting the needs of the environment first. “Conservancies Association of Namibia is actively showing the world that farming and conservation go hand in hand. Cheetah Conservation Fund illustrates that there are many ways to save the lives of endangered animals,” says CCF. Cheetah Country Beef is but one of the many conservation economic initiatives that CCF has embarked on to save the life of the Cheetah in Namibia. Among other initiatives are Bushblok and Livestock guarding dogs. Bushbloks are smokeless, long lasting fuel logs that burn at super hot temperatures and produce very little ash. Early this year, the Bushblok project in Otji-warongo exported hundreds of tonnes of the eco log to the United Kingdom. CCF was early this year awarded the Forest Stewardship Council certification, an international green label for wood products. The certificate is awarded by an international certification agency, to organisations whose products are environmentally approved.
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