The Tourism Expo, which is one of the important social events in Windhoek, took place from 31 May to 3 June 2017 at the show grounds. Thousands of people flocked to see demonstrations of innovative products and services from exhibitors in the tourism and hospitality industry.
Community conservation was represented at the expo this year with the theme ‘Wildlife Credits’, which is a new and innovative approach to support conservation efforts in communal conservancies based on sightings, monitoring and protection. Wildlife Credits are conservation payments that reward communities for protecting and living with wildlife by giving credit where credit is due – to farmers.
There are some iconic wildlife species that cause economic hardship to rural households by inflicting damage to infrastructure or loss of income from crop damage. With Wildlife Credits, payments can be made to communities that live with these species. These payments may be used to protect crops and livestock from damage and to compensate for losses. They may also pay for the management of wildlife corridors.
Four conservancy representatives: Borniface Saisai, manager of Salambala conservancy; Emil Roman, manager of Torra conservancy; Lameck Limbo, enterprise officer of Wuparo conservancy and Lorna Dax, manager of ≠Khoadi-//Hôas conservancy promoted the new scheme at Expo. Wildlife Credits is currently implemented in ≠Khoadi-//Hôas and Wuparo conservancies where lodges are recording wildlife and making reward payments. There are 15 other conservancies across Kunene and Zambezi with lodges recording wildlife sightings and yet to implement the reward payment system.
The conservancy representatives informed the public about the new scheme and people were excited and pleased to hear of new initiatives to conserve wildlife and mitigate human-wildlife conflict. Fourty-six people supported Wildlife Credits by donating a minimum of N$ 25,00 to the conservation fund. They were willing to support the fund because of their love for wildlife and the value they see in it. Young people were enthusiastic to support the scheme because they would love to continue seeing wildlife in the future and were excited to be one of the first supporters of Wildlife Credits.
All those who donated and agreed to have their photo taken next to one of the iconic wildlife species entered the competition to win 2 nights at Hobatere lodge, which is owned by ≠Khoadi-//Hôas conservancy, by spreading the message of Wildlife Credits to their friends on Facebook. To learn more about Wildlife Credits and how to become a supporter go to www.wildlifecredits.com.