Iona, situated in the world’s oldest desert, is contiguous to Namibia’s Skeleton Coast, thereby creating one of the largest transfrontier conservation areas on the planet
This special ecosystem has high endemism, with many reptiles, plant, and bird species occurring only in this eco-region. Key terrestrial faunal species include the South African oryx, springbuck, Hartmann’s zebra, ostrich, cheetah, leopard, and brown hyena, although the latter three predators are found in fairly low numbers.
Iona is recognized as an “Important Bird Area” with at least 150 species recorded. The Kaokoveld Desert and the Namib desert (covering the largest area of the park) are recognized as “globally remarkable” in terms of their biological diversity and are mentioned by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as centers of floral endemism.
Voice from the Field
The road to becoming a ranger
Anália Tchetupona Cristiano was one of 21 final participants to complete the Basic Field Ranger (BFR) course held in Iona National Park.
The participants underwent demanding physical and psychological tests during the pre-selection phases and those who passed were selected to complete the rest of the course where they learned about ethics, patrol formations, de-escalation techniques, human rights, and self-defense. During their work at INP, they will become ambassadors for the park in their own communities.
The park monitors will also use their profound understanding of the local language, values, customs, and traditions that have been practiced for decades, to collaborate with the Law Enforcement team for the conservation of the park, its wildlife, and its people.
Recruiting members of local communities benefits everyone: employment and income is provided to local people and their intrinsic knowledge of the landscapes is integrated into the management of the park