Namibia: King Nehale Lodge Boosts Conservancy

HAVING secured a joint-venture agreement with King Nehale Lodge of Gondwana Collection Namibia is one of the major achievements of the King Nehale conservancy in the Oshikoto region.

This is according to Esther Petrus, the conservancy's coordinator.

Petrus last week said the lodge is built within the conservancy area, and therefore it allocates a certain percentage of its profits to the conservancy, and has also employed people from the conservancy.

"That way, we are benefiting immensely from the lodge," she said.

Officially registered in September 2005, King Nehale conservancy has a population of about 20 000 people and spans 508 square kilometres.

Petrus said the conservancy is proud of having succeeded in its efforts to retain its wildlife, which also helps to attract tourists.

"We are proud that we managed to keep our wild animals. Some conservancies do not have wild animals any more as they have lost them to poaching," she said.

Petrus said the conservancy recorded 105 springbuck, 2 steenbuck, 58 guinea fowl, seven corri bastards and 44 blue wildebeest.

The Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism also donated animals to the conservancy, she said.

From time to time, the ministry allows the conservancy to put some of these animals up for trophy hunting and profits are given to the conservancy.

The conservancy employs four game guards.

"We do not have problems with poaching," Petrus said.

While poaching is not a problem within the conservancy area, Petrus said a lack of vehicles to do game counts has made it difficult, as game guards are forced to do it on foot.

She said Covid-19 has also posed challenges, specifically that the conservancy's 2020 work plan could not be implemented.

"We planned to build a hall for our meetings, but it could not be built due to Covid-19," she said.

Gondwana Collection Namibia's environmental and social impact manager, Quintin Hartung, says their joint-venture agreement with the conservancy was signed in June 2018 after they were selected by the conservancy as their preferred tourism partner.

"As part of the joint venture with the King Nehale conservancy, we pay a person fee to the King Nehale conservancy. So, for every bed night sold at the lodge, a fee is paid to the conservancy, the Ondonga Traditional Authority, and the King Nehale Community Development Fund," Hartung says.

He says when the lodge has a very low occupancy, as was the case with Covid-19 lockdowns and periods of travel restrictions, a minimum guaranteed fee is still paid to the conservancy monthly.

However, Hartung says the biggest benefit of the lodge to the conservancy is job creation.

"We have permanently employed close to 50 people from the local community - many of whom were unemployed before they began working at the lodge. We continue to focus a lot on training and upskilling the local staff," he says.

The lodge, located on the Andoni plains - just 1 km from Etosha National Park's northern-most King Nehale Gate, was officially opened on 28 April 2020.

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