A success story in community based conservation.
Exploring the conservancy areas around Grootberg Lodge and Hobatere Lodge today, it’s hard to imagine these beautiful plains and canyons were once almost entirely of game.
The abundance and diversity of species that can be found in the ≠Khoadi //Hoas Conservancy is a far cry from the way things were at the turn of the century. Thanks to the determined efforts and cooperation of forward-thinking conservationists, government, private concerns and the once marginalised community that live here, game numbers have made a turnaround to become a global success story. This includes endangered species such as black rhino, desert-adapted lion and elephant.
Around the early 1990’s, game numbers were at an all time low due to human-wild animal conflict. Wild animals were seen as a nuisance at best while elephant and predators posed a threat to the livelihood of the local communities. As a result, animals were worth more dead than alive.
Poaching and the persecution of so-called “problem” animals (such as elephant, lion and other predators) went ahead unchecked. At the same time, antelope and zebra were unsustainably hunted for their meat and skins until almost all but the smallest of invertebrates disappeared from the area.
A turnaround came when in 1990, the Grootberg Farmer’s Union was formed. This instigated policy changes and formed the basis of what was to become the ≠Khoadi //Hoas Conservancy.
Thanks to funds donated by the European Union, the Grootberg Lodge was built. This was to become the first lodge to be wholly owned by the community. The establishment of the lodge brought employment and a more sustainable income to community members as well as a revenue stream to aide and promote social initiatives and resources.
A reform in conservation efforts and education placed the community as the overall custodians and beneficiaries and the value of conservation became understood. With community members comprising up 98% of the employees at the lodge, even former poachers became fervent conservationists. With excellent bush and tracking skills and intimate knowledge of the area, they became the best candidates for the job.
To further add to conservation efforts, a Predator’s Fund was established to compensate farmers for livestock lost to predators while generating funds needed for infrastructure to minimise their risk.
Today ≠Khoadi //Hoas Conservancy stands proudly as an international case study of how conservation efforts can be successful and sustainable in the long run. By visiting this breathtaking part of the world and enjoying all it has to offer, you are contributing to the long-term sustainability of the area, it’s animals and the people.
≠Khoadi-//Hôas Conservancyʼs Milestones:
- ≠ Khoadi-//Hôas was the first community based conservancy to request registration
- Grootberg Lodge became the first middle-market tourism establishment to be wholly owned by a communal conservancy
- The lodge became a major income source for the conservancy and it’s members
- At the same time, community members develop new, marketable skills
- Grootberg lodge was awarded a Community Benefit Award at the prestigious World Travel and Tourism Council’s ‘Tourism for Tomorrow’ awards — 2010
- The conservancy became a pioneer in integrating wildlife, livestock and water management
- Wildlife numbers continue to grow in the conservancy
- The conservancy is a registered custodian” in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism’s Black Rhino Custodian Programme
- ≠ Khoadi-//Hôas is one of the first conservancies to reintroduce black rhinos and black faced impala
- Establishment of a compensation scheme to minimise the impact of human-wildlife conflict
- Establishment of a Trust Fund for Traditional Authorities
- Grootberg Lodge Education Fund assists with the renovation of the primary schools
- The same fund provides tuition fees for families that can not afford it
- The lodge contributes to the reduction of human-wildlife conflict (HWC) through financial benefits to the conservancy
- The lodge supports members of the community with projects such as the building of clinics, schools, water points and a community kitchen for the elderly and vulnerable people