Beneficiary villages for the NG 5 hunting area are said to be deriving less benefits due to diminished opportunities in the wildlife based tourism brought about by various activities that impact on the environment and wildlife in the concession.
This is according to the Land use management plan scooping report for the controlled hunting area NG5 which was prepared by the Okavango Research Institute (ORI).
Villages under Tsau, Semboyo and Makakung Community Trust (TSM) are the custodians of NG 5 as per the Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM) allocations.
Presenting the report recently ORI Director Professor Joseph Mbaiwa indicated that various activities in the area that include poaching, development of fenced ranches and expansion of livestock grazing areas have resulted in low wildlife numbers.
He indicated that during their research, they discovered that human wildlife interaction is not conducive to co-existence within NG 5. Mbaiwa highlighted that wild animals seem scared of humans, which could be a result of poaching.
“Although communities indicated that poaching is not a problem in the area, cases of animals that show high alertness and fright when they sense human presence could be an indicator that hunting and possibly poaching is rampant in the area,” Prof Mbaiwa lamented.
He noted that poaching mostly affects tourism programmes as it leaves the area with reduced wildlife numbers and local extinction of some wildlife species hence tourism activities such as game drives in the area are limited.
He lamented that poaching is a symptom of human wildlife conflict hence farmers associations and TSM need to work together to demonstrate and enhance the ecological and economic value of wildlife to community members.
Mbaiwa indicated that the area does not have formal tourist accommodation facilities and active tourism activities among the beneficiary villages. However, he noted that the area has potential tourism aspects which include cultural tourism as it has various cultures, trophy hunting and photographic tourism.
He further recommended that TSM should make sure that trophy hunting and related tourism programmes increase tourism benefits to the communities so as to reduce human wildlife conflict and enhance sustainable use of natural resources in the area.
“TSM lacks tourism diversification activities for the NG 5 area hence it is crucial for the current board and staff to be capacitated on various tourism products in the area,” Mbaiwa said.
For his part the newly appointed TSM chairperson Baliki Gaothobogwe has since asked ORI to develop a more detailed cultural tourism plan which will benefit the diverse cultural heritage in the area, among them Basarwa, Baherero, Bayei and Batawana