Tourists visiting Namibia’s wild and beautiful places enjoy pristine landscapes supporting free-ranging big game. But to local communities, who do not always benefit from tourism income, living with wild animals is both costly and dangerous.
Much of what is called ‘wilderness’ in north western Namibia is managed by Conservancies which, having no legal status are unable to enforce land use fees from tourists. This is where TOSCO comes in.
TOSCO (Tourism supporting Communities) is a non-profit organisation which encourages tourism operators to voluntarily pay land-use fees.
All income is channelled to communities and research projects which serve these areas, among them some of the project close to our hearts: Desert Lion Conservation, Save the Rhino Trust, and Desert Elephant Conservation.
Most crucially, TOSCO supports project which mitigate human-wildlife conflict. A good example being the donation of 2 radio collars, batteries and two years of airtime for the transmitters to the Desert Lion Trust as well a Lion Ranger’s annual salary. When transmitters indicate lions approaching settlements, Lion Rangers gather resources (villagers and staff of nearby lodges) to ensure the lions are diverted by creating a disturbance by shouting, banging metal objects etc. Contributions have also assisted in building lion-proof enclosures for community livestock.
Save The Rhino Trust received assistance with fly-camps and field equipment for rangers who must spend several days away from home patrolling the 28 000 square km Rhino territory. Special cameras for monitoring spotted hyena and wild dogs for the Kwando Carnivore Project (Caprivi Region) – these are night vision cameras which operate without a flash which is very disturbing to wild animals.
Fuel for research vehicles for desert-adapted elephant monitoring. Still poached for their ivory, elephant numbers have been decreasing in north-western Namibia.
These are some of the small ways in which voluntary contributions for land use can benefit grass roots conservation. As cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead so rightly said: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committee citizens can change the world, indeed, it’s the only thank that ever has. Namibia Horse Safari Company is proud to be associated with those, like TOSCO, who really do make a difference to the world.