Bird life Botswana, a local Non Governmental Organization, on Thursday launched a new scheme ÔÇô Birdlife Species Champions – which will develop and demonstrate new models of how NGOs and the private sector could more effectively collaborate, for their mutual benefit.
Two companies, Botswana Ash and Hoisting solutions, did not only grace the media briefing, but also donated cheques.
Speaking during the launch, the NGOs Director, Dr. Kabelo Senyatso, said partnerships, such as the Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) are not a new phenomenon, and have been used in largeÔÇôscale infrastructural projects.
“(but) what Birdlife Botswana, in partnership with BotAsh and Hoisting Solution, seek to demonstrate is that such ideas can be translated into the realm of wildlife and nature conservation, which has hitherto not fully exploited this concept.”
He added that although through the Community Based Natural Resources (CBNRM) program, Community Based Organizations (CBOs) have been encouraged to form Joint Venture Partnerships with private sector entities, the JVPs have largely not been genuine partnerships but instead, the companies paid the communities some monies for the use of resources on the communities’ land.
Communities here have minimal input into strategic decision making regarding the overall investments in resource conservation and priority actions that would maximize the impacts of such investment on people’s livelihood and natural resource conservation.
“We aim to pilot effective NGO-private sector partnerships for nature conservation using birds,” said Dr. Senyatso.
On the importance of birds, Dr. Senyatso said whilst a relatively dry country, Botswana is a very significant habitat in terms of bird biodiversity. With 580 bird species, Botswana is among the fifty most species-rich countries in the world. For some species Botswana is the global stronghold.
Some of the birds include the globally threatened Wattled Crane, Mogolori, for which Botswana supports 20 percent of the around 8, 000 birds in the world.
Another threatened species is the Slaty Egret. Other globally threatened birds include: the Cape and Lappet-faced Vultures, pallid Harrier, Black-winged Pratincole and African Skimmer.
Also considering that Botswana is home to thousands of water birds like herons, egrets, storks, ibises, spoonbills, pelicans – presenting Botswana with opportunities to diversify rural economies, notably through bird tourism.
“Bird tourism is a US $80 billion per year industry globally, and Birdlife Botswana aims to increase Botswana’s stake in the industry. Details on the bird tourism program, including what has been achieved and future plans, and possible areas of collaboration between government, NGOs, CBOs, researchers, the donor community and the private sector, are available from Birdlife,” he said.
Botash Managing Director Montwedi Mphathi, briefed the media to the effect that their partnership with Birdlife was Corporate Social Investment (CSI) program. He said his company is identified with the Flamingoes that lived in the Sua and Makgadikgadi pans.
He said the birds feed in Makgadikgadi and sleep in Sua pan. He bemoaned the fact that Batswana do not travel and, therefore, many do not know the beauty their land has in bird species.
On behalf of his company, Mphathi donated a cheque for P150 000, to be used in three years.
For his part, the Managing Director for Hoisting Solutions, a crane business company, 74 percent citizen owned, explained that his company values smart partnership with other players in the crane industry. His company founded a fund ÔÇô Conserving Rarities And (their) Natural Environment (CRANE).
As the founders of the Crane Fund, Hoisting Solutions has embarked on a long term strategy to contribute to the saving of the ‘crane’ whose species continue to dwindle.
This includes the Mogolori bird. It is from the fund that they popped out the P19 992 whose cheque he donated during the event.
He advised that other stakeholders who identify themselves with birds, like the alcohol levy and the St Louis larger, should pop out something towards the program.