Conservation & Social Development in Botswana
Given that about 85% of Botswana is covered by the vast semi-desert of the Kalahari, it is perhaps surprising to hear that its biodiversity remains more intact than in any other African country. More of its landmass is conserved than any other country on the continent, with 37% of Botswana being either park, reserve or wildlife management area.
This has mostly been achieved due to ecotourism
The Botswana government has always run a policy of high income – low volume in tourism and it’s thanks to this policy that ecotourism has managed to bring in about 10% of the country’s GDP and employs about 10% of the workforce.
ECOTOURISM CERTIFICATION SYSTEM
Botswana is one of the few countries in the world which runs an eco-certification system for tourism accommodation. Whilst it is not widely recognised or used yet, it at least starts to set a minimum benchmark for ecotourism within the country. The system encompasses standards with regards to the environment, wildlife and local communities. You can read more about this system here.
In the early days of tourism in Botswana trophy hunting played an important role. However in more recent years this has been reduced until, in 2014, the government announced a full ban on hunting. So the wildlife in Botswana mostly enjoys good protection, though some human-wildlife conflict does occur causing fatalities, generally in the elephant population. There are many wildlife NGOs working within Botswana and the country even has its own National Rhino Coordinator, Map Ives.
Interesting articles about wildlife conservation in Botswana
Rhino Conservation in Botswana by Map Ives
The Work of TUSK in Botswana by Charlie Mayhew
THE ROLE OF PRIVATE COMPANIES IN CONSERVATION & SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
The safari lodges and camps of Botswana are run by individuals and private companies, and many of these are actively involved in conservation and social development projects. Here are few examples of what is being done by such lodge owners.
&Beyond’s pioneering model of low-impact, high-yield wildlife tourism is based on its ethic of Care of the Land, Care of the Wildlife, Care of the People. Founded on the premise that conservation could be sustained through sound business principles, this model has underpinned each of the company’s initiatives for over twenty years. &Beyond’s conservation strategy is broadly based on the following objectives:
- To minimise environmental impacts and maximise sensitivity towards wildlife and habitats
- To facilitate partnerships with neighbours, whether local communities, government or the private sector
- To provide actions for reducing threats to wildlife and ecosystems
- To provide a world-class interpretative experience for guests
Through its support of the Africa Foundation, the company contributes towards the conservation of biodiversity and community empowerment. It is also involved in hands-on collaboration in terms of data gathering and research in the areas where it operates.
Sanctuary Baines’ Camp in the Okavango Delta is a low environmental impact camp and was built using commercially-grown wood and recycled tin cans. The local community in Maun collected as many cans as they could and were paid a fee for every can they contributed. These cans were integrated into the camp’s buildings, and form the support of the structures.
The sustainability of Wilderness Safaris has been based on the concept of the 4Cs. This concept, adopted from the Long Run Initiative (www.thelongrun.com), is predicated on the belief that a business cannot be truly sustainable unless it commits to the four dimensions of Commerce, Conservation, Community and Culture. We believe that this framework is an appropriate sustainability model for our industry and accordingly our Vision, Mission and Values are all aligned with these Cs. Our sustainability initiatives are measured annually allowing us to monitor our performance according to the 4Cs and establish goals for business going forward, creating value in all of the 4Cs.
IF YOU WANT TO HELP
There are many ways for your to help with various projects and causes connected to Botswana. For start, choosing to stay at lodges which have responsible policies towards the country, its people, environment and wildlife is an easy way to help. However here is a list of various NGOs and charities within the country which would all appreciate your help.
To back wildlife …
Botswana Predator Conservation Trust – www.bpctrust.org
Cheetah Conservation Botswana – www.cheetahbotswana.com
Elephants without Borders – www.elephantswithoutborders.org
Rhino Conservation Botswana – www.rhinoconservationbotswana.com
TUSK – www.tusk.org
To back people…
TRAVEL FOR IMPACT – www.travelforimpact.com
Travel for Impact (TFI), is a locally-based social responsibility initiative for Botswana. TFI links tourism and social responsibility, meaning that as tourists travel and enjoy the delights of Botswana they directly benefit the people of Botswana.
TFI is marketing: Getting the word out is a vital strategy for generating impact. Giving voice to those in need and those who help them is a crucial dynamic.
TFI is Non-traditional: Travel for Impact supports people, not things. TFI makes sure organizations have staff, as well as books. When it comes to giving support is often lacking for the people who make things happen, good organizations are run by good people and Travel for Impact focuses primarily on supporting people. Donations pay the salaries of the woman teaching orphaned kids and the counsellor who helps a battered woman get back on her feet.
TFI is Independent: The fund is managed by people with different strengths in the community and a common aim of building a better Botswana. From business community members who use their entrepreneurial strength to help TFI to achieve its goals, to people with backgrounds in the NGO sector who can advise what needs to be in place for donations to have a real impact.
TFI thinks outside one box: Funds are given to a range of projects and organisations, not just one cause. TFI’s advisory board identifies areas where funding can make the most impact and provides support accordingly. Presently, TFI supports: Bana Ba Letsatsi (Care Centre for Vulnerable Children) www.banabaletsatsi.com; Woman Against Rape www.womenagainstrape.co.bw; AGLOW (Care Of The Elderly & Destitute) www.aglowinternationalbotswana.org.
TFI teaches a man to fish: Travel for Impact assists NGOs in becoming self-sufficient. TFI mentors NGOs in accessing funding through avenues other than donations. The aim is to ensure that organisations have the cash flow needed to keep them running long term. They teach organizations to thrive, not just survive.