John Kasaona is a pioneer of community-based conservation — working with the people who use and live on fragile land to enlist them in protecting it.

Why you should listen

John Kasaona is a leader in the drive to reinvent conservation in Namibia -- turning poachers into protectors of species. It’s a standard nature-documentary scenario: a pristine animal habitat under constant threat by the people who live there, hunting, camping, setting fires. But John Kasaona knows there is a better way to see this relationship between people and environment. As the assistant director for the Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC) , Kasaona works on ways to improve the lives of rural people in Namibia by involving them in the management of the lands they live on -- and the species that live there with them.

Kasanoa's Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) program helps rural villages set up communal conservancies, which manage and use local natural resources in a sustainable manner. Essentially, it's about restoring the balance of land and people to that of pre-colonial times, and allowing the people with the most interest in the survival of their environment to have control of it. His work was featured in the recent film Milking the Rhino.

The World Wildlife Fund has set up a portal for TEDsters to help in John Kasaona's work. Learn more >>

What others say

“Our attitude is important. If we pretend to be concerned and helpful but still see the community next to a conservation area as a threat, conservation won't work.” — John Kasanoa

John Kasaona’s TED talks

John Kasaona on the TED Blog

How poachers became caretakers: John Kasaona on TED.com

June 8, 2010

In his home of Namibia, John Kasaona is working on an innovative way to protect endangered animal species: giving nearby villagers (including former poachers) responsibility for caring for the animals. And it’s working. (Recorded at TED2010, February 2010 in Long Beach, CA. Duration: 15:46) http://video.ted.com/assets/player/swf/EmbedPlayer.swf Watch John Kasaona’s talk on TED.com, where you can download […]

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Quotes from John Kasaona

I like that one: Namibia serving as a model to Africa, and Africa serving as a model to the United States.
John Kasaona
TED2010 • 262K views Jun 2010
Inspiring, Informative
The whites [in Namibia] could farm, graze and hunt as they wished, but we black, we were not regarded as responsible to use wildlife. Whenever we tried to hunt, we were called poachers.
John Kasaona
TED2010 • 262K views Jun 2010
Inspiring, Informative
We were successful in Namibia because we dreamed of a future that was much more than just a healthy wildlife.
John Kasaona
TED2010 • 262K views Jun 2010
Inspiring, Informative