Conservancies essential for rural communities

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On duty… Some of 20 game guards that keep track of wildlife in Chobe National Park.

Ngoma

A member of the Salambala Conservancy says the revenue derived from conservancies sustains the resident communities to such an extent it prevents villagers from succumbing to the temptation of poaching, because they know the direct benefits of conservancies.
“Those people that are making noise that hunting in Namibia or in our conservancy must be banned must give us money to sustain ourselves. If they take away hunting from us it will be disastrous, as poaching will escalate and cause havoc,” says the chairman of

Salambala Conservancy in the Zambezi Region, Botha Sibungo.
Sibungo made the remarks during the presentation of the Annual Conservancy Audit and Status Summary and Natural Resource Report last Wednesday by representatives of the Namibian Association of Community Based Natural Resource Management Support Organisations (NACSO) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

“It will be unfair to stop hunting. We won’t have any income. The hunting concession is our biggest income. We’re managing our resources sustainably. We’re not destroying anything and our people are benefitting from it. Our government has given this power to the community to manage these resources so they can get an income from it.

“That’s why the community demanded that whoever brings the ban must also pay us, so that we can continue to manage our natural resources. In one month’s time all the resources will be gone if hunting is banned. That’s why we employ 20 game guards and they do regular game counts and foot patrols,” Sibungo explained.

Ingelore Katjingisiua of the WWF, who presented the audit report, said total returns from natural resources in 2014 amounted to N$3,1 million. Combined income from tourism stood at N$1 million, while hunting generated N$1.9 million and the revenue generated from flora stood at N$167 260.

In her presentation of adaptive management Katjingisiua urged the conservancy management committee to manage resources in a sustainable manner to benefit the community as it has done until now. “You must continue in this manner, but you must make improvements all the time,” she said.

Camp Chobe on the banks of the Chobe River was established two years ago, with assistance from the Millennium Challenge Account Namibia chapter.

Camp Chobe has a contractual income sharing agreement with the conservancy, which generates much-needed funds to cover running costs that are in turn invested in community projects, which is paid in advance each year.

The overall objective of the joint agreement is to increase the value and volume of tourism in Salambala Conservancy, as well as increase benefits to the conservancy and its people by means of income and employment.

Salambala Conservancy was created in 1994 and was officially declared a conservancy in 1998 by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (Government Notice 146, 1998). The Namibian Constitution stipulates a broad mandate for the sustainable management of, not only for wildlife, but all natural resources in the country.

The conservancy covers an area of 930 000 square km, including 14 000 square km of the two core areas and 80 corridors, designated for wildlife and tourism.

No crops are planted in the settlement areas, because of the risk elephants and hippos pose. The southern half of the conservancy borders on the Chobe National Park in Botswana, from where wildlife moves freely into the conservancy. The northern half is classified as woodland, comprised of Mopane woodland and Kalahari woodland. No illegal wood harvesting is allowed here.

Nineteen villages surround the core conservancy area, with a population of approximately 15 000 people, of which 6 000 are registered members. Most of the people live in the core area and their stay inhibits the free movement of wildlife.

“We try to do more awareness campaigns to convince people to move to the settlement areas where it is also safer to stay,” he said.

Sibungo said although the membership number is low, everyone in the community benefits from meat distribution and cash for various activities. Other outreach programmes, where they contribute financially include the annual traditional cultural festivals, cleanup campaigns, balls and trophies for soccer tournaments and transport for the elderly to various pay-points each month.

Busy man… Chairman of the Salambala Conservancy in the Zambezi Region Botha Sibungo.
Busy man… Chairman of the Salambala Conservancy in the Zambezi Region Botha Sibungo.

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