Namibia has lost a pillar of conservation. Raymond Kakambi Kwenani passed away in Salambala Conservancy, Zambezi Region, on 28 February 2017. Born on 2 August 1945 in Ibbu Village, close to Ngoma, Kwenani leaves a wife and children, and a devoted community behind.
“We call him a hero,” says Michael Sibeso, the current Vice Chairman of Salambala Conservancy, where Kwenani served twice as Vice Chairman, acting Chairman, and latterly as Enterprise Officer. After his basic education Kwenani gained a diploma in sales and management and attended courses in community based tourism and agricultural cooperatives. A lifelong farmer, his true passion was conservation and the conservancy he did so much to build.
Salambala Conservancy, on the far eastern tip of Zambezi Region, was one of the first four conservancies to be gazetted in 1998, and today is one of Namibia’s strongest conservancies, with 21 game guards paid for with revenue from conservation hunting and Camp Chobe Lodge, which is a joint venture with the conservancy that was carefully monitored by Kwenani as Enterprise Officer.
Before the conservancy was formed, Kwenani was instrumental in persuading people who lived in the forested area to move out, making way for a wildlife core area. These were delicate negotiations, requiring the considerable diplomatic skills for which Kwenani was well known, according to the current conservancy Chairman, Botha Sibungo: “Whenever there were disputes with the lodge or conservancy employees, Kwanani could harmonize the situation.”
From 1993 to 2017, Kwenani served Salambala and was always hardworking, never late, and always friendly. Under his guidance the conservancy always scored 100% in audits carried out by IRDNC on its finances and game guard performance, and in the week before he died Kwenani was still active organizing a clean-up campaign with school children.
The late Raymond Kwenani was much loved and respected by the staffs of IRDNC, NACSO, WWF, and above all by his colleagues at Salambala.