Tourism and Conservation
By Team AfriCat
The western world has affluence, a certain amount of time on its hands to take holidays, and an education system which allows and inspires its people to travel and visit other parts of this world. Namibia has wide-open vistas, ranging from desert to savannah to woodland, inhabited by a myriad of flora and fauna, which with a keen eye will bring music to the soul. A visitor to Namibia is prepared to pay for his stay provided he is given a quality experience for his money. Some visitors to Namibia are happy if they have the knowledge that at least a portion of the money left behind goes back into the conservation of the land which they had the privilege to witness. Sustainable? Of course if managed properly. By the people? Absolutely no reason why not if the people are given the opportunity.
The AfriCat / Okonjima relationship was established with sustainability as one of its goals. There will always be the need to seek funds for new ideas and projects which the Foundation tries to tackle, but the day-to-day costs are covered by and large from the visitors who come to see the Foundation, witness its work and share in its dreams. Likewise because the visitor comes to see AfriCat, so Okonjima can develop the land and expand the range of experiences it is able to offer. This relationship goes beyond symbiosis into the realm of synergism.
And what of the people? Directly there is of course employment at Okonjima and AfriCat. But we can go much further than this. Future plans for AfriCat include developing the opportunities for locals and their families to farm both livestock and arable produce which can be used not only for their own use, but also marketed to the lodges, surrounding farms and in nearby towns. Farming techniques employed will naturally be environmentally friendly using minimum amounts of water and ensuring that wildlife, in particular predators, can live side by side with man’s endeavors. Onsite schools and environmental education programmes – catering to the needs of the people have been established.
Animal welfare of carnivores will always have a prime place at AfriCat, but the Foundation must grow and evolve as the needs of the environment and the people change. Environmental education of the youth, farmers and conservation officers is now the focus of AfriCat. Research needs to continue and expand into such areas as techniques of counting carnivores and other animals so that we can accurately establish population sizes and monitor their fluctuations. Field research, much of which is already under way, continually needs support which AfriCat hopes to be able to offer. Add all this together and AfriCat’s mission of ensuring the long-term conservation of Namibia’s large carnivores comes a little closer.
As the 21st century firmly establishes itself as a new and dynamic era, sustainable development and the conservation of earth’s limited but valuable resources will continue to become ever more urgent and essential parameters by which we as human beings must lead our lives.
The AfriCat Foundation is ready to play its part.
These logos are the copyright of AfriCat and Okonjima and used with their permission.