President Ian Khama has lauded the Khama Rhino Sanctuary Trust as a model community trust that is viable, successful and beneficial to the community. Speaking at the re-opening of the Khama Rhino Sanctuary restaurant over the weekend, President Khama said the Trust has over the years recorded many developments that include the restaurant, lodging facilities as in chalets and camping sites, an education centre, picnic area, as well as game viewing vehicles.
“I am reliably informed that there are currently over 30 mammal species, which include both the black and white rhinos, zebra, eland, gemsbok, wildebeests, heartbeasts, waterbucks, warthogs and giraffes. The sanctuary also has over 230 species of birds. It is against this backdrop that the sanctuary is seen by many as a prime area for game viewing, attracting many locals and international visitors,” said President Khama.
He added that the villages of Serowe, Paje and Mabeleapudi benefit from the Trust. 95 percent of the 47 employees of the trust come from the beneficiary villages. On an annual basis, the sanctuary also provides temporary employment to over 100 community members. During the ceremony, President Khama honoured some community members for their immense contributions to establishment of the Trust.
The concept of Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) was introduced in Botswana to facilitate conservation of natural resources and ensure that local communities benefit from the country’s natural resources. While CBNRM’s have generally been hailed as a step in the right direction, others have questioned their benefits in so far as natural resources utilization is concerned. There have also been concerns about mal-administration of resources and misuse of funds that would otherwise benefit the community. Others have called for more interaction between communities and trust management to ensure that the interests of the communities are protected. However, there is general consensus that community-based ventures, if properly run and managed, can promote conservation and increase benefits to locals.
The Khama Rhino Sanctuary restaurant was destroyed by a mysterious fire in June 2013. The restaurant was initially funded by the African Development Foundation to the tune of P570, 000. The structure, which was constructed from grass and wood, was completely destroyed by the fire. Other facilities were also destroyed, including a kitchen, dining hall, ablution block and storeroom, together with equipment like furniture, fridges, catering equipment, food and beverages. Botswana Insurance Company (BIC) later compensated the Trust and facilitated construction of the new restaurant.
President Khama thanked BIC for compensating the Trust timeously.
“We must also congratulate the Board, Management and all the KRS staff for the new restaurant that we see here today. It takes dedicated people to set up and restore something that had been completely destroyed,” he said.
He added that the new restaurant comes at a very opportune time to accommodate the increasing number of tourists in the sanctuary.