By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK Thirty people, including members of the Omuramba ua Mbinda emerging conservancy committee, undertook a fact-finding mission to the Kunene region recently. The conservancy, which is in Otjombinde, emerged after it was discovered that the area has potential for financially beneficial conservancy formation and tourism enterprise development. Since the concept is fairly new in the Omaheke region, the committee, Omaheke Governor Laura McLeod, Otjombinde Councillor Jeremiah Ndjoze and staff members of the Tourism Directorate in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism visited conservancies and campsites in the Kunene region. A report compiled after the trip by Merrow Thaniseb said the group was taken through a process of conservancy formation, registration and management, and other pertinent topics which conservancies face in their day-to-day life such as human-wildlife conflict and holistic rangeland management. The objectives of the trip were, among others, to learn about and experience conservancy formation and management, and tourism joint ventures, to be exposed to conservancy-planning methodologies and strategies, to experience the scenic beauty and tourist attractions in the Kunene region and also to experience different types of tourist attractions. Amongst the areas visited were the Damaraland camp – a shining example of joint venture tourism between rural communities and the private sector, Torra conservancy – one of the first communal area conservancies to be gazetted in the country, the Ombua and Ongongo campsites. The group was also exposed to a quarterly planning meeting of four neighbouring conservancies, namely Sesfontein, Anabeb, Puros and Okangundumba. The emerging conservancy is sparsely and sporadically populated, which is attributed to the absence of dependable water resources for people to live on. Parts of the area are characterized by broadleaved and shorter woodlands, while the valleys have expanses of grasslands, scattered patches of trees and shrubs – mainly Terialia, Acacia, Combretum and Ongocarpus species. The area also has potential to become a wildlife core area. At present there is no wildlife, although there are good veld conditions, which has led to inhabitants of the area calling for the reintroduction of game as soon as the conservancy is gazetted. “If this happens, this will be a reputable tourism destination, due to the region’s strategic location on the Trans-Kalahari Highway to Botswana,” says a report compiled after a fact-finding mission to Epukiro and Otjombinde constituencies to explore the potential of conservancies in the Omaheke region earlier this year. Additionally, the area has cultural heritage sites like the dorsland road through which German tourists travel to pay respect to their ancestors, which is also regarded as a boost for tourism. Omaheke region was once said not to have the potential for tourism development in the past, a misconception that was dispelled after the fact-finding mission to the two constituencies. The exchange visit was part of the recommendations to visit conservancies of the Kunene region, which was undertaken with support from MET and the Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC).