Inspiring Commitment to Sustainable Wildlife Management: A high-level visit to Habu Community Conservancy

Inspiring Commitment to Sustainable Wildlife Management: A high-level visit to Habu Community Conservancy

Inspiring Commitment to Sustainable Wildlife Management: A high-level visit to Habu Community Conservancy

Inspiring Commitment to Sustainable Wildlife Management: A high-level visit to Habu Community Conservancy

On 7 June 2023, a momentous event unfolded in the heart of Habu Community Conservancy as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in collaboration with the Conservation International hosted a high-level visit to appreciate the projects implemented in the region. The visit aimed to show the remarkable work done under the Sustainable Wildlife Management (SWM) Programme’s Community Conservancy (CC) Project. 

The Assistant Minister of Health, Honourable Sethomo Lelatisitswe, Area Member of Parliament, European Union Ambassadors, the French Ambassador, project donors, and various high-level government officials graced the occasion. “These influential figures’ presence underscored the projects’ significance and impact on the community and the environment”, said Chief Mokadi Masedi as he welcomed the guests into his village.  

In his address, the Assistant Minister of Health, Honourable Sethomo Lelatisitswe applauded the donors and partners involved in the Sustainable Wildlife Management programme stating that the Government of Botswana recognizes and promotes partnerships between the state and non-government organizations to address challenges faced by the communities.  “These projects exemplify the power of collaboration and demonstrate the potential for positive change when communities, organizations, and governments unite for a common cause. The Habu Community Conservancy serves as a shining example of how conservation efforts can enhance the coexistence of human livelihoods, wildlife, and livestock,” said Lelatisitswe.   

He said the Ministry of Health fully supports the promotion of the co-existence project as it resonates well with the one health strategy, which acknowledges a connection between the environment, animals and people.  Lelatisitswe further cautioned that failure to address human-wildlife conflict has far-reaching consequences such as loss of life, property, and poverty. “The evasion of agricultural land by wildlife affects the production and nutrition of food produced for consumption, leading to malnutrition and poverty”, he said.  

The European Ambassador to Botswana and SADC Excellency Petra Pereyra said they are happy to be supporting the co-existence project and that it is a reflection of their commitment to protecting nature whilst also ensuring that the local communities can have their livelihoods sustained in a way that they can substantially co-exist with nature.  Pereyra said the wildlife is a huge asset to Botswana and they fully appreciate the challenges that come with hosting such an asset, and the purpose of this partnership lies in finding sustainable solutions to these problems. She pledged her support to the project stating that the EU has enjoyed a good relationship with Botswana dating back to the 1980s when they helped in sectors such as education, agriculture, and fighting poverty.  

His Excellency Olivier Brochenin, the French Ambassador to Botswana, thanked the community of Habu for trusting them to work together to promote the co-existence of nature and people. He said his country is committed to helping Botswana diversify its economy in a sustainable way as demonstrated by the support of the project. Brochenin said the partnership provides a good opportunity to exchange skills and experiences in sustainable wildlife management for the good of the community and the country at large.  

For his part, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Rene Czudek said all projects in Habu fit well into the FAO Strategic approach referred to as the “Four Betters” and leaving no one behind. , Czudek described the high-level visit to Habu Community Conservancy as truly inspiring and took a moment to commend the Habu Community Leadership for their outstanding efforts in promoting sustainable wildlife management through the Community Conservancy Project. He assured the community that FAO is committed to continue working with the Government of Botswana and other partners to help sustain the country’s natural resources and end hunger.   

Additionally, the Conservation International Country Director Ruud Jansen said the aim is to use the lessons learned from Habu projects to replicate in other regions. He said they are engaging the private sector to help identify markets for Habu beef. Throughout the visit, the attendees witnessed firsthand the projects’ positive outcomes and newfound economic opportunities for the community. The Habu Community Conservancy serves as a model of sustainable wildlife management and an inspiration for other regions grappling with similar challenges. 

The high-level visit to Habu Community Conservancy displayed the immense potential for positive change when diverse stakeholders come together for a shared vision. The projects’ impact on the coexistence of humans, wildlife, and livestock provided a beacon of hope for a more harmonious and sustainable future.    

The Habu Community Conservancy is part of the Sustainable Wildlife Management (SWM) Programme’s Community Conservancy (CC) Project led by FAO, as well as the Pro Nature Enterprises Project for Southern Africa, led by Conservation International. The French Development Agency (AFD) funded both projects to focus on improving rural development opportunities and improving coexistence between humans, livestock and wildlife to foster human well-being and environmental preservation.  

This is a community-led initiative under the leadership of Chief Masedi who has played a critical role in the establishment of the community trust through which they set to transform the livelihoods of the community. Through the village community trust, community leadership was able to facilitate the community to pursue the community conservancy model, and empower the community to take ownership of their collective well-being.

To ensure the projects’ interventions in the field were complementary and effective, FAO and Conservation International worked in close collaboration with Wild Entrust Africa (WEA), a non-profit organization that had been actively involved in Habu since 2017. The combined efforts of these organizations ensured a comprehensive and holistic approach to wildlife management and conservation, with a focus on community engagement and empowerment. 

The SWM CC and Pro Nature Projects, implemented by WEA, are working together to improve the well-being of communities and protect wildlife. Delegates recently visited these projects to observe progress and exchange experiences with community members involved in the implementation process. The SWM CC projects focus on managing the entire concession area, including wildlife monitoring, patrolling, and supporting community-based governance.   

On the other hand, the Pro Nature Project concentrates on strengthening livestock value chains and rangeland management through the Rangeland Stewardship Agreement (RSA) and Herding4Health (H4H) program. These initiatives collaborate on enterprise development, as well as skills and capacity building in the Habu region. During the visit, the delegates had the opportunity to explore various project sites, including the community-managed cattle mobile quarantine boma under the Herding4Health program, the community horticulture garden, and the wildlife area.

Habu Community Conservancy is part of the broader Sustainable Wildlife Management and Community Conservancy strategy in the four countries in the KaZA Region (Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe) and builds on similar SWM activities being developed with CCs in Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of FAO Regional Office for Africa.