Voices in conservation-Smith Shikoto

Smith Shikoto
Smith Shikoto

“We need to continue with our work and those that we leave behind once we’re gone can continue surviving from the natural resources that we have been conserving and benefiting from.” Smith Shikoto, Manager- Dzoti Conservancy Zambezi region

I learn a lot by working with people from different backgrounds and levels of expertise. I like managing conflict. This is not an easy task but it’s good when the job gets done. With the job I have, I’m able to pay my children’s school fees, buy them uniforms, and buy food for the house. My family is the people who should understand what conservation is because they are the ones who directly benefit from my salary.

Commercial poaching is low, but there is subsistence poaching. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, people could not travel to town to get chicken, therefore they resorted to poaching small wildlife such as duiker. We are dealing with the issue by conducting patrols and raising awareness on how poaching takes away from the community’s benefits of wildlife.

In our conservancy, we depend on hunting and there has been no business between the conservancy and the professional hunters therefore we cannot generate an income. Without conservation hunting, species such as elephants will increase in the area and this will cause an increase in human-wildlife conflict. Due to COVID-19, we lost two potential hunting clients. The funds from the Conservation Relief, Recovery, and Resilient Facility will be used for operational costs and especially for payments of game guard salaries who are at the front line of conservation in our area.

During the lockdown period and the different levels of the State of Emergency in response to COVID, we did not stop with our conservation activities and continued with our patrols to monitor wildlife. We had joint patrols in the Mudumu South Complex where each of the 4 conservancies donated N$ 10 000 and sent three game guards from each conservancy who were part of the patrols that took place in May and June 2020.

Benefits of conservation in Dzoti:

  • Awarded scholarships of up to N$ 50 000 for about 25 students. This amount was to help these learners to pay part of their tuition fees.
  • Assisted with the building of the Traditional Authority structure.
  • Started an electrification project in three areas with about 1310 people benefiting.
  • Currently building a ranger camp for game guards in the wildlife breeding area so that poachers do not easily have access to the area.

" In Dzoti we have a beautiful landscape with various wildlife and bird species. There are elands that are not common in other conservancies. There are indigenous trees that locals use for medicine such as roots of acacia for coughs and there are trees for food as well, a nice sweet berry called muzinzira in the local language and scientifically known as Berchemia discolour."

Siphiwe Lutibezi
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