Conservancy Stands on Own Feet

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By Surihe Gaomas UIS Named after a well-known river in the Erongo Region, Tsiseb Conservancy, the second largest conservancy in the region after Nyae-Nyae, has successfully been running its operations sustainably for the past two years without donor funding. Generating annual revenue of N$132 000 merely from trophy hunting, the conservancy plans to create micro-financing projects to create much needed jobs. An additional budget of N$265 000 in its kitty leaves the conservancy with much wider options in strengthening development not only at the town of Uis but the region as a whole. The manager of Tsiseb Conservancy Eric Xaweb informed New Era recently that he saw the community-based venture climbing to even greater heights. He said the conservancy was now reaping fruits for the community both directly and indirectly. However, this success did not come without sweat. “Some people tried to stop the development of the conservancy, but we have overcome the obstacles,” said Xaweb. Situated in a semi-desert area, the 808 300-square metre conservancy started off nine years ago and was gazetted as a conservancy by the Ministry of Environment in March 2001. During the previous year, the venture that started off in a community hall, received N$64 000 from the non-governmental group Rise Namibia. At this time, the initiative was called the Ugab Wilderness Camp, a joint cooperation between the traditional council and private individuals. By then, it was situated some 40 km from the Ugab River in the Erongo region. However, after going through various stakeholders and investors, a plot of land of two hectares in Uis was bought from businessman Albert Weiss through a loan granted by the European Commission. The Tsiseb Conservancy Office was officially opened on April 28, 2004 by Ambassador of the European Commission Antonius Bruser and Chief Elias Thaniseb. It is on this area owned by the community that the conservancy built a coffee shop, craft shop, information centre and Internet shop. Eight people from the community are currently employed here on a full-time basis. During the interview, Xaweb informed New Era that the Tsiseb Conservancy was the first in the region to conduct an own hunting camp, namely as Professional hunters and Master Guides. Yet this was not an easy achievement. “The challenge is that trophy hunting is mainly dominated by white Namibians, but with the assistance from African Hunting Safaris, we started growing on a small scale over the years,” explained Xaweb. Future plans are to further set up a community campsite for tourists that visit the area on the western side of the Brandberg Mountains and create a scenic spot for sight seeing and watching desert dwelling elephants in the area. At the same time, with donor funding from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Tsiseb Conservancy plans to set up a radio camp regular patrol for efficient and effective communications systems. Currently, the venture has 16 mountain guides and with the good rainfall that increased the number of wild game, the initiative to shoot and sell also becomes a lucrative exercise. “We want to redouble last year’s amount of N$132 000 this year, due to the good rains,” concluded Xaweb. And since wild game is a favoured delicacy amongst visitors to the region, plans are also in place to set up a butchery for wild game due to the high demand of such meat.

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