In a bid to promote an enabling environment for ecotourism through biodiversity conservation to improve livelihoods of rural communities in the Hukuntsi, Bird Life Botswana in partnership with European Union Non State Actors has launched a biodiversity project named “Promoting biodiversity conservation and rural livelihoods in the Hukuntsi sub-district through civil society-state partnerships’”.
The project is funded by the European Union (EU) through their ‘Non-State Actors (NSA) program and implemented by BirdLife Botswana in partnership with the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Hukuntsi Sub district Council (HSDC) and other government and local stakeholders.
The project, also known as, ‘BirdLife Botswana EU NSA Hukuntsi Project’ is a one and half-year project. In an interview last week Wednesday, the Project’s Manager, Botilo Tshimologo said the project is 60 percent done and promises to serve the purpose for which it is intended.
“Its focal Community Based Organisations (CBOs) will be the; Nqwaa Khobee Xea Conservation Trust with Ukhwi, Ncaang and Ngwatle villages; MAHUMO Trust comprising Maake Hunhukwe and Monong villages; and Qhaa Qhing Conservation Trust in Zutshwa village,” explained Tshimologo. He added that communities there have accepted and embraced the project, raising hopes that with the support of Bird Life Botswana, the communities will be able to sustain the project in the future.
He said the objectives of the project are to strengthen the enabling environment for improved biodiversity conservation contribution by communities in Hukuntsi sub-district, site-level demonstration of effective birding tourism and integrated natural resource utilisation planning across the sub-district and increased institutional capacity CBOs local/central government.
Other NGOs, different Government Departments and community stakeholders are also participating in delivery of the project objectives for the improvement of bird tourism and CBO operational sustainability.
“Many CBO suffer institutional deficiencies due to lack of capacity. We thus develop the rural CBOs through capacity building by offering workshops on governance, financial management, accounting etc. We also involve the locals in citizen science by running bi-annual Bird Population Monitoring census with their participation. We teach them the methods and techniques and they assist in the collection of data about local birds in their area,” said Tshimologo.
He said Birding Tourism has greater potential in the Kgalagadi district and requires strategic development and marketing. Hence BirdLife Botswana has recently assisted the Nqwaa Khobee Xea Conservation Trust to apply for funding from the National Environmental Fund to try and broaden the scope and longevity of the project beyond EU funding.
“This kind of funding will be handy in developing tourism infrastructure such as camp sites and water reticulation to these camping facilities. Lack of financial support as a nonprofit making NGO poses a serious challenge to meeting some of the deliverables, given the vastness of the project site. One of our most crucial aspirations is to change mindsets of the people regarding issues of poaching and poisoning of predators as they depredate on their livestock,” he said.
Tshimologo also urged institutional action by leaders to curb agrochemicals misuse. “In fact, many of the 10 vulture species in Botswana and other Southern African countries are now more critically endangered towards extinction than ever before. This calls for a great institutional action by the leadership of these countries to curb these issues of misuse of agrochemicals by farmers and poachers,” he concluded.