Poverty Alleviation Through Hunting

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By Chrispin Inambao RUNDU Members of the Khwe community who previously felt they were victims of political negligence and segregation would soon start benefiting from proceeds accrued through the sale of trophy animals culled from the nearby Bwabwata National Park. Among the animals targeted for trophy hunting in the concession are elephant, buffalo, kudu, duiker, steenbok, lion, leopard, crocodile, sable and spotted hyena, while problem beasts both listed as trophy and non-trophy would also be hunted. In a recent interview conducted at his tribal headquarters at Mutjiku, newly enthroned Khwe leader Chief Ben Ngombara said his community is ecstatic about the scheme. The ambitious game-management programme will benefit through a community trust established for members of the Khwe at Mutjiku, Mushashane, !Uicikom, Chetto, Omega One, Omega Three, Omega, Mushambo, Pipo, Mangarangandja and other settlements. Chief Ngombara, who recently filled the position left vacant through the death of his cousin the late Chief Kippie George who died shortly after his arrival from self-imposed exile in Botswana, said ten representatives of the tribe serve on the trust. The money generated through trophy hunting will go directly into the trust from where its members would decide on how and when the money is to be used and for what development projects, said the chief who serves his community in various capacities. He said the Khwe who trail other Namibians in terms of empowerment and are ranked the lowest economically speaking, chose to join the economic bandwagon by venturing into a conservancy through which they will receive quotas on trophy animals. Fourteen professional hunters from South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and from overseas are expected to put in bids for the trophy animals on the eastern and western parts of the park. From the bids, the community will decide which is the most beneficial. Among the trophy animals are eight elephants apiece from Bwabwata East and Bwabwata West from which the community expects to generate revenue of not less than US$300 000 or the equivalent of N$2 million for community projects such as boreholes, schools, clinics, ploughs, seed and towards feeding schemes for its people. The two hunting concessions on offer in Bwabwata National Park are Kwando on the east named after the river and Buffalo in the west named from a facility previously used by members of the then occupational South West African Territorial Forces (SWATF). The Government that issued quotas for the wild animals to be hunted has already recognized Kyaramacan, the trust through which the community will receive its benefits. Members of the trust are considering the prices on offer, employment and training opportunities for locals and the willingness and ability of tendering companies to contribute, assist and work closely with four conservancies within the concession area. It also expects its people to be employed as camp staff, skinners and as trackers. “As a consequence, we reserve the right to award the hunting concession to the safari operator that we deem as the most advantageous to the long-term operation of the hunting concession and the welfare of our local communities,” states an internal document. The highest tender price, while being crucial “may not necessarily be the final determining factor” , it says, adding the community wants the successful bidder to engage pro-actively with them and to establish the area as a renowned hunting destination. Since Bwabwata National Park is found in the so-called open system that allows game free movement in and out of the park, bidders are cautioned that because there are no guarantees on securing the trophies, no refunds will be made for non-utilisation of the quota for which the guaranteed payment is offered. The concession contract will be for the 2006 hunting season though there is an opportunity for the successful concessionaire to be given an option for renewal. The successful concessionaire is further obliged to accommodate his/her clients in a temporary safari camp that shall comply with the minimum requirements for grading as determined by the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) which reserves the right to inspect such a camp to determine if it conforms to standard prescribed regulations. Other restrictions placed on the concession are that no hunting will be permitted within sight of a public road. It will also not be allowed to drive on roads used by tourists with fire-arms, game carcasses that are visible to tourists. The trust will provide the winning concessionaire with a map specifying areas designated as non-hunting zones and no hunting or baiting will be allowed within a kilometer of an international boundary unless prior permission is obtained from MET.