Excitement is mounting! In less than four hours I start my journey to Namibia to participate in the Adventure Travel Trade Association’s annual World Summit (2013).
It’s such a privilege for many reasons:
1. Namibia leads the world in wildlife conservancy because it made a courageous choice that at the time bucked the trend. Shortly after independence, Namibia was the first country to include the protection of the environment in its constitution. For the first time, rural residents on communal land could have the same rights over wildlife as private farmers, enabling them to operate tourism and trophy hunting businesses and to diversify incomes away from farming. There are now 79 communal conservancies covering 19.5% of Namibia’s land, with one in five rural Namibians living in a conservancy.
A whopping 42% of Namibia is under conservation management and the entire coastline (some 1000 miles) is protected.
As a result of this visionary choice and the dedication of Namibia’s peoples, wildlife populations are flourishing.
I am looking forward to learning first hand how the Namibians have develop their Community-based Natural Resource Management Program
ATTA President, Shannon Stowell, has written a mouth watering account of his first visit in the National Geographic here
2. Namibia is not just protecting its biosphere but the “ethnosphere” (Wade Davies’ term for cultural diversity) is getting a helping hand too as the conservancies provide the means for indigenous peoples to maintain their way of life and source income froum conservancy and tourism.
I am travelling as guest of Namibia and the WWF with a group of dear friends and colleagues from the World Indigenous Tourism Alliance (WINTA) to visit a number of community-based, indigenous tourism operations in the country. Included in our itinerary are visits to:
- Mafwe Living Culture Museum, Zambezi Region (formerly Caprivi Region)This is a formal enterprise that provides visitors insights into the traditional culture of the Mafwe people.
- Kwe San, who have established a guide training program to help ensure the world famous tracking skills of the San people are not lost among the young generation.
- Ovambo Community, Sheya Shushona Conservancy. This conservancy has partnered with an investor to build a Joint Venture (JV) Lodge.
On October 25th, some 250 participants in Namibia’s tourism sector are attending an Indigenous Tourism conference at which my WINTA friends will speak.
I am so impressed by the achievements of our Namibian hosts and will do my best to share experiences of the next two weeks. It’s a trip of a lifetime and a story that must be told. Enjoy this video and please follow the adventure!