// Huab Conservancy

Conservation Travel Foundation - Ultimates Safaris
The evolution of a wildlife conservation and rural socio-economic development model

The threats to the future of wildlife in Africa are significant, with habitat loss and poaching probably the most devastating. Elephant, rhino, lion, great apes, pangolin and vultures, along with many other species which occupy Africa’s wild areas, are all rapidly declining as their ranges shrink and they are harvested for their high value products, such as ivory, rhino horn, lion bones and pangolin scales, and for bushmeat.

While considerable effort is being invested into numerous conservation projects to stem the loss, the general decline in species and habitats reflects a low rate of success. Unfortunately, the real cost of failure lies in the loss of biodiversity, and, thus, of functionality of the ecosystems that support life. For Africa to avert that failure, the current widespread and diverse efforts to conserve Her wildlife need to unite under collaborative and coordinated strategies at international, national and local level to achieve the common aim. Only an unencumbered sharing of knowledge and resources can provide the platform from which to launch pragmatic approaches to sustaining our environment and its diversity, while catering for the needs of humanity.

In keeping with its philosophy and strategy, the Conservation Travel Foundation (CTF) subscribes to the conviction that there are fundamental models of wildlife conservation, based on the ecologically sustainable and economically viable development of rural communities living with wildlife, that need to be widely developed and implemented if the future of both Africa’s people and Her wildlife is to be secured.

It is the aim of the CTF to assist the //Huab Communal Conservancy in northwest Namibia to evolve and implement a socio-economic development model that is based on wildlife conservation and land management programmes that bring together wildlife protection, ecological management, food security, education, vocational training and entrepreneurial opportunity in a coordinated collaboration of individuals, organisations and government.

Guided by, and in collaboration and cooperation with, the //Huab Community, as well as a variety of stakeholders, including MET, IRDNC, DLT, SRT and the safari tourism industry, CTF and Ultimate Safaris have, therefore, initiated wide ranging investments into the planning and development of a socio-economic development programme that will allow the Community to fully embrace wildlife conservation as the basis for a sustainable and viable long-term future.

At present, much of this investment is into basic infrastructure (boreholes; pipelines and protected reservoirs; wildlife water points and game viewing and access roads) and into facilitating collaboration and coordination of effort.

The primary safari contribution comes in the form of a Joint Venture between the //Huab Community and Ultimate Safaris for the development and operation of a 16 bed, low impact, tented camp (//Huab Under Canvass). The unique aspect of this Joint Venture is that, without sacrificing comfort, the focus of the camp is on the wilderness and cultural experience given to Guests, not the level of “urban” luxury. Therefore, the capital investment into the camp is low compared to other lodges which have been constructed in communal conservancies. Nevertheless, the bed night rates maintain the industry standard, resulting in a considerably higher rate of return on investment and, thus, higher levels of income to the Community. 

The Conservancy also allows access to other safari operators for scenic and wildlife viewing and for overnight stays at a Community-run campsite. Finding an acceptable model of financial contributions from this segment of the safari industry remains a matter of discussion.

For their conservation and development model to be successful, the //Huab Community will need to participate fully in all decisions relating to their Conservancy, and to be supported in all aspects of their development, including training and capacity building, by all the stakeholders.

CTF and it’s founding entity, Ultimate Safaris, are both committed to the long term conservation of Namibia’s wild landscapes and to the indigenous communities, human and wildlife, that inhabit them. The complexity and scale of effort required to achieve that goal, means that a broadly collaborative and cooperative strategy acceptable to, and driven by, each Conservancy Community, is critical.

However, that strategy not only needs to bring together the various stakeholders in individual conservancies - communal and privately owned - but needs to bring groups of adjacent conservancies together to create an overarching collaborative land and resource management alliance. An alliance that not only ensures them fair and equitable access to their natural resources, but which also enhances the security of tenure which they - the Communities - all have over their land.

In addition to the Trans Frontier Conservation Area programme, there is an urgent need for landscape scale entities, within countries, that are models for multi-facetted land-use with wildlife and renewable natural resources as the basis for rural socio-economic development.

Curriculum Vitae                                                   Conservation    Community    Commerce    Culture                                      © David Peddie 2017