No Wilderness Without The Wilderness – Binns

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Chairman of Okavango Wilderness Safaris, Kabelo Binns has said company’s milestones over the past 40 years could not have been achieved without the wilderness within which it operates. This he said has informed their operations that took caution not to compromise the delicate ecosystem, and instead fund its protection through the years.

Binns shared this with stakeholders at an engagement and cocktail event held to honour them as the company celebrates 4 decades of existence. The event was held at the company’s offices in Maun last week, to celebrate a journey the company says has been one of contributing to conservation, communities and the economy of Botswana.

“Our business operates in remote, rural areas, on land set aside for conservation by Government and communities. These areas have few sustainable economic alternatives, and the communities also suffer from limited access to education, health care and basic utilities. These factors lead to heavy reliance on the environment and can be threats to biodiversity conservation,” Binns highlighted.

It is in the face of these glaring threats that the company has been deliberate in crafting blue prints that would guide its operations to ensure the environment remains protected.

“But these areas, and the people living in and around them, are the foundations of our business and so our Impact Strategy is designed and implemented in an effort to provide promising opportunities and address key threats to biodiversity. Our Conservation & research initiatives are intended to improve the understanding and thus the management of our ecosystems,” he summed.

At the heart of its operations, Binns shared that they are guided by a tripartite strategy that hang on the three pillars of Empowerment, Education and Protection.

“We take this very seriously as we are custodians of some of the Planet’s last untamed places. That if not protected would cease to exist for future generation to enjoy… but more than just enjoy the sights of the amazing flora and fauna… we understand the balance that is required to fund the protection of these amazing places in a sustainable fashion,” he noted.

The company has been able to reduce the use of plastic bottles in their operations by 97%, while funds paid in by guests for use in conservation peaked P269 million.

Moving onto the pillar of empowerment, Binns shared that Wilderness currently has in its employ 1100 staff members in the different areas of operations, adding that that 96% of these are Batswana.

He further revealed that the company has over the past 10 years paid P1 billion to its employees. The company also paid P672 million to government in the past 10 years.

Further, Binns noted that the company purchased 85% of all goods and services from Botswana based businesses and to the total value of P1.6 billion.

On the Education pillar, the company prides itself in the Children in the Wilderness (CITW) initiative which has seen 2700 kids in Edu Clubs across Botswana and 2100 kids attending annual Camp in the lodges.

He further highlighted, after 20 years there is real growth of Batswana that are in areas of guiding, pilots Chefs and lodge senior management.

“We also have an enviable in house development agenda for all staff, Waiters to Chefs, Admin to Lodge management, we are known as the trainers of the industry. There is not a single company in the sector that does not have at least a hand full of our staff. We have Batswana working as far afield as Rwanda, Namibia, Zambia and Tanzania.”

Wilderness has over the years grown its footprint to 8 countries in Africa, with offices in the US, UK and Mauritius. It operates luxury Safari camps in Botswana’s prime Okavango Delta, the Chobe areas.

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