Mmegi Online :: Photo tourism lessens impact on Khwai hunting ban
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Last Updated
Friday 26 August 2016, 15:44 pm.
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Photo tourism lessens impact on Khwai hunting ban

MAUN: Despite the hunting ban effected in 2011, the Khwai Development Trust (KDT) in the OKavango Delta says it has managed to remain afloat, thanks to the maximisation of revenues from Photographic tourism.
By Boniface Keakabetse Fri 26 Feb 2016, 17:24 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Photo tourism lessens impact on Khwai hunting ban








KDT chairman, Baruti Sango explained that the trust is continuing to rake in profits even though hunting has been stopped. In 2011, government effected trophy hunting ban citing declines in wildlife. The move affected many community trusts in wildlife areas that heavily relied on hunting revenues, some of which have gone bankrupt. Ngamiland trusts, despite their location in pristine wildlife areas, are already failing to survive and are swimming in debt.

Sango, however, revealed that KDT is making enough money from photographic tourism attributing to this to longer experience in the industry. He explained that the hunting ban was piloted at Khwai way back in 2009 before eventually being rolled out nationally.  “We have a longer experience with the hunting ban as we stopped hunting in 2009. I can confidently tell you that our revenues are not at all affected by the hunting ban,” Sango said.

He added that their advantage is that Khwai is located in a prime wildlife area, which is internationally sought after by tourists.

Khwai, which is a Basarwa settlement, is located closer to the Moremi Game Reserve. It is located in a prime area in which some of the nearby Safari camps charge almost P20,000 a person per night for tourists.

Sango said the trust gets its revenue mainly from campsite rentals in NG 19, which is one of the tourism concession areas in custody of the community trust.

Though the Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM) programme, trusts undertake community tourism operations proceeds of which go towards social services provisions in the settlement of about 500 residents.

Sango, however, criticised the ironclad control of the CBNRM programme by government. He noted that when the programme was started in 1989, it was funded by the

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U.S government, was supposed to be a bottom up conservation initiative but noted that government has turned it top down. 

He cited the latest tourism land bank initiative as one of the ways communities are increasingly being excluded in decision-making regarding natural resources utilisation in Botswana.  Sango noted that the land bank transferred tribal lands including concession areas to the ministry of lands. 

He said as per this initiative all the leases for concession areas are now entered between government and tour operators unlike in the past when communities signed leases with the operators.

According to Sango, this now means government can directly impose operators of its choice on the communities unlike in previous dispensation where the communities had the veto powers to refuse any operator they did not want. Sango further revealed that his trust targets to invest in property development in Maun as a way of diversifying from tourism-related businesses.  “Our target to acquire land and build offices for rentals. Ultimately in future we can move in to building community owned malls anywhere in Botswana.”

Government, said Sango, has to do more to assist the communities to look beyond the CBNRM to invest in other sectors of the economy.   He said the formation of Sankoyo Bush Bucks football team whose campaign in the premier league has added life to the Maun economy is an example of how CBNRM proceeds could benefit other sectors of the economy.

Sankoyo Development Trust funded the team from the CBNRM proceeds before hunting stoppage dealt the trust a blow. He said it is high time government stops thinking that CBNRM is only about conservation and tourism and consider how proceeds can have spin off effects and be invested elsewhere.

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