Exploring the conservancy areas around Grootberg Lodge, it is hard to imagine that there was a time when these beautiful plains and canyons were almost entirely devoid of game.
The abundance and diversity of species which can be found in the ≠Khoadi //Hoas Conservancy is a far cry from the way things were at the turn of the century. Thanks to the determined efforts and cooperation of forward-thinking conservationists, of government, private concerns and the once marginalised community who lives here, game numbers have made a complete turnaround. This global success story includes endangered species such as black rhino, desert-adapted lion and elephant.
Around the early 1990s, game numbers were at an all-time low due to human-wildlife conflict. Commercial farmers saw all wild animals as a nuisance, while elephants and predators posed a threat to the livelihood of local communities in particular. As a result, animals were worth more when dead than alive.
Poaching and the persecution of so-called “problem” animals (elephant, lion and other predators) went ahead unchecked. At the same time, antelope and zebra were unsustainably hunted for their meat and skins until almost all animal species but the smallest of invertebrates had disappeared from the area.
The turnaround came when the Grootberg Farmer’s Union was formed in 1990. This brought about policy changes and formed the basis of what was to become the ≠Khoadi //Hoas Conservancy.
Grootberg Lodge was built thanks to funds donated by the European Union. It became the first lodge to be wholly owned by the community. Grootberg brought employment and a more regular income to community members, as well as a revenue stream to aide and promote social initiatives and resources.
A reform in conservation efforts and education made the community the overall custodians and beneficiaries, and the value of conservation became understood. With community members accounting for 98% of the lodge’s staff, even former poachers became fervent conservationists. Their excellent tracking skills and intimate knowledge of the area made them the best candidates for the job.
To further add to conservation efforts, a Predator’s Fund was established to compensate farmers for livestock lost to predators, while also generating funds for infrastructural needs to minimise their risk.
Today ≠Khoadi //Hoas Conservancy is proud to be an international case study of how conservation efforts can be successful and sustainable in the long run. By visiting this breath-taking part of the world and enjoying all it has to offer, you are contributing to the long-term sustainability of the area and its animals and you lend support to the people.