Botswana

Okavango

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Mutual benefits for man and wildlife

Mutual benefits for man and wildlife

Mutual benefits for man and wildlife

n the northern edge of Moremi Game Reserve within the Okavango Delta lies the Khwai Community Area – one of the most wildlife-rich areas of northern Botswana. Forming the main frontier between Chobe and the Okavango Delta, the area is prolific in species including elephant, buffalo, the rare sitatunga and the larger predators.

The Khwai community concession provides an excellent example of a community which benefits directly from tourism and therefore is focused on protecting the area and its wildlife. 

The Khwai Development Trust is a community-based natural resource management organisation founded in 2000 to represent the interests of the population living in Khwai. rough the Trust, the community has been empowered to play an active role in sustainable use of its natural resources, ensuring the benefits from tourism trickle down to each individual.

Safari operators using the Khwai concession pay fees directly to the Khwai Development Trust so that the proceeds of tourism directly benefit the Trust and its various projects, including housing schemes for the elderly, employment creation opportunities and educational scholarships.

As a livestock-free zone, due to its close proximity to protected wildlife areas, the only available livelihood option is the tourism industry, and the community has a vested interest in protecting the area and living in harmony with its wildlife. In addition, most safari operators with camps in and around the Khwai concession have their own communityoriented projects which directly impact and sustainably assist in developing the skills and wellbeing of the community.

African Bush Camps, which operates Khwai Tented Camp in the area, is actively involved in the community.

In 2012, the African Bush Camps Foundation conducted a needs assessment survey for the community within the Khwai Village, and established two primary projects on which to focus:

- A pre-school for the children of the village;
- Water access points for the elderly living within the village.

Wilderness Adventures, operating Banoka Bush Camp in the area, are also actively involved with the community in developing employment opportunities as well as training and skills in ecotourism and the hospitality industry.

But the attractions of Khwai are not limited to its people and culture. The Khwai River, which is the northern-most 'finger' of the Delta’s alluvial fan, is the main life source for the region, and attracts one of the most prolific and consistently varied wildlife concentrations in Botswana. With a combination of permanent water, seasonal floodplains, open grasslands, riverine forests and dry woodlands, this rich and diverse habitat supports an abundance of mammals and birds.

A strong predator population including lion, leopard and wild dog provides travellers with the opportunity to experience these predators on a regular basis, and often at close proximity. Dramatic power plays take place between the predators and the numerous plains game species in the area, creating an action-packed spectacle for visitors and reflecting both the brutality and beauty of nature in the wild.

Read more about the region in our destination guide:
Okavango

Read more articles from this issue:
Zambezi Traveller (Issue 14, Sept 2013)