Hobatere Lodge - The Pride of the #Khoa-di//Hoas Conservancy
Since the dawn of the Conservancy concept in Namibia (1998), members of the various communal communities in the Kunene Region and elsewhere, have begun to understand the value of large carnivores to Photographic Tourism. Wildlife Tourism can provide an alternative or an additional livelihood, for young people especially. Community Lodges create job opportunities for their people, amongst others, as Tour-Guides, Game-Guards and other Lodge staff. Some of the income generated from Wildlife Tourism may be used to renew infrastructure such a ‘bomas’, build schools & medical clinics and improve the general well-being of the whole community.
The Hobatere Concession, a wildlife protected area which lies adjacent to western Etosha National Park, is central to the Namibian Lion Trust Research Project study area. A number of lion within this Concession have been fitted with GPS-Satellite collars, essential to monitoring their movement patterns; this enables us to better protect them when they migrate from such safe-zones onto farmland, where their lives may be threatened. The Namibian Lion Trust Research Team supports the Lodge by providing as much data as possible, making Lion sightings the highlight of the Hobatere Experience. Although free-range wildlife sightings cannot be guaranteed, the presence of resident lion is a tourist attraction.
To foster interest, understanding and tollerance of carnivores such as Lion and Hyaena, the Namibian Lion Trust nurtures a close bond with the Hobatere Team, encouraging a greater connection to the wildlife on their doorstep.
The benefits of non-consumptive Tourism goes beyond ‘a job’, but extends to having an emotional and social impact: young people, who previously felt despondent at the poverty-grind associated with farming, now have a sense of pride in their work, a connection with visitors from all over the world and a sense that their work ‘matters’.
The social consequence of having positive mental health within a community is well documented all over the world. This is no different – the more direct the link between presence of wildlife and economic gain, the more efforts will be made to preserve that very wildlife. In the case of Tourism in the Kunene Region, the beneficiaries are not only community members but the lion, elephant and rhino as well.