In part 1, we discussed our delight of having DumaTau and Damarland named in the top 25 ecolodges in the world by National Geographic Traveller. We went into some detail about DumaTau and the reason for its inclusion and how we can be celebrated its successes with World Environment Day. In part 2 we go into a bit more detail with respect to Damaraland and why it featured in the top 25 and how it can be celebrated as a camp that contributes to World Environment Day.
Damaraland has for a long time featured in the spotlight of many tourism awards relating to sustainable tourism. The business model between us and the communities making up the Torra Conservancy was a ground breaking one and has seen Damaraland flourish into one of our most successful operations in Namibia and one of our greatest success stories yet.
The development of the camp goes back to 1998 while the establishment of the Torra Conservancy can extend earlier to 1996 when the concept of a conservancy was introduced into Namibia. This allowed communities to take action on the wilderness areas in which they lived their daily lives and seek out opportunities to create livelihoods out of that land beyond that of poaching and hunting and in this case turn to ecotourism for creating economic prosperity. In 1998, Wilderness Safaris and the Torra Conservancy made history when entering into pioneering partnership which saw the birth of Damaraland Camp.
The conservation benefits of the establishment of Damaraland became very clear seeing animals such as the endemic Hartmans Mountain Zebra grow from a population 450 in the 1980s to 12 500 in the year 2000; and the now famous desert adapted elephants from a mere 250 to 700 in 2000. This recovery in wildlife is however merely as a result of the benefits realised by the members of the conservancy. The economic benefits saw the Torra Conservancy income grow from zero in 1997 to a modest N$300 000 in the first year of operation in 1998. By 2003 the Torra Conservancy was earning in excess of N$1million.
The value of our relationship did not end there, when after 10 years we gave back 20% share in the Damaraland camp business to the conservancy over five years, until they owned it outright after 15 years. After being asked to remain involved in Damaraland by the Torra Conservancy we then bought back 60% share of the camp and entered into a new joint venture. This has brought us to where we are today and has seen Damaraland generating real value for the rural communities and created a safe environment for unique wildlife in the Torra Conservancy to flourish. Damaraland shows how genuine opportunities and economic growth for communities creates value for the environment and wildlife that communities live with and therefore allowing these communities to feel the need to protect their natural heritage, which is what World Environment Day is ultimately all about.
World Environment Day can be celebrated in different ways through the dynamic yet interdependent ways in which can contribute to ensuring the future of our Earth and the incredibly diverse environments that make our world the beautiful planet it is. Damaraland and DumaTau show how we are getting this right and how our efforts are suited to the very different environments in which they are situated. We celebrate the acknowledgement that National Geographic Traveller has given us as we celebrate Wold Environment Day with the World.
Travel with Brett: Take your safari experience to another level and travel with Brett and go behind the scenes of what makes Wilderness Safaris a leader in sustainable ecotourism. With Brett as your private guide, you will be granted an all access pass and experience some of the conservation and community efforts first hand.
About the author: Brett Wallington is the Group Sustainability Coordinator of Wilderness Safaris coordinating many of the sustainability initiatives across the 4Cs (Commerce, Conservation, Community and Culture. His passion is developing safari experiences that create a positive impact on the conservation of the area visited while making positive sustainable impacts to any local communities. Respecting local cultures and introducing guests to these cultures also forms a crucial aspect of sustainable ecotourism. After completing a degree in environmental sciences, Brett began his career as a guide in the Sabi Sands adjoining the Kruger National Park in South Africa, a passion of his that continues today, although with a slightly more directed purpose.
To read Part 1, click here.