A high quality safari camp on the Zambezi River close to the main Sesheke-Senanga road just south of the Sioma (Ngonye) Falls in southwest Zambia.
The camp has good views up- and downstream. Accommodation options include 6 luxury safari tents with open air bathrooms, placed on elevated, wooden decks with thatched roofs, 4 standard safari tents - also with open air bathrooms - for self drive and self catering tourists and a campsite.
At this stage the below list represents only a tentative inventory with brief bullet points. A more elaborated description will require extensive consultations with community groups, households as well as private individuals from the area.
The ('eco-tourism') approach is based on the assumption that if relevant designed community based natural resources use management is put in place resulting in a situation where the benefits - including from tourism activities - from living with wildlife outweigh the costs then communities will react rationally and respond positively – including to reduce or stop illegal hunting - and start managing resources in a more 'responsible' and conservation oriented way – to the benefit of all.
Employment of members from the local community at the camp
Training of staff
Establishing 'outgrower' schemes – if possible based on small scale irrigation - in order to provide the camp with as many agricultural and other products as possible. (Vegetables, fruit, fish, meat, eggs etc.).
Assist the community in improved access to funds and skills training. An example could be to assists setting up of small scale tourism ventures (accommodation, guiding, tours, cultural activities, crafts, caretakers of and guides around the Sioma Falls etc.) through facilitation of access to funds from the Community Tourism Development Facility anchored within the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources.
Develop and establish joint venture/partnership based bush camps, community or privately owned accomodation facilities (bed and breakfast, camp and 'lodges' etc.)
Establish incentive based wildlife promotion schemes. As an example a 'community trust fund' could become the beneficiary of 'flagship game species bonus system'. Incentives in the form of cash could be paid every time a group of tourists on a game drive/walk observe say leopard, lion, cheetah, wild dog, sable, sitatunga etc. Observations could be certified by the SC guide and one of the tourists.
Support to antipoaching patrolling by ZAWA through subsidising/buying of rations, fuel etc. Perhaps an incentive/disincentive system may also be applied here where scouts ZAWA police officers could receive bonuses for confiscation of snares, muzzleloaders, guns etc. whereas the same bonus may be deducted from the above mentioned 'flagship species' bonus paid to villagers.
Small scale environmental education activities. These could coincide with monthly handing over of funds (cash) from the above mentioned 'flagship game species bonus system' to for example representatives from the local CRB's. The environmental education activities could be showing of a film/video on wildlife (for children and adults) and other films (for adults) and cartoons (for children).
Tourism Based Wildlife Sightings
Community Incentive Scheme
The idea behind the scheme is to make a direct link between sightings of wildlife and benefits to the community.
When guests to Sioma Camp on either a bush drive or during a bush walk see one species of wildlife (not number of individuals) a small fee will be paid to the village/community situated closest to the area where the sighting took place.
For Sioma Camp the beneficiary villages are Kabula 2, Mwanambao and Sikuka.
In essence you could say that the villagers are being paid for NOT poaching. Hopefully the system will contribute to the villagers realization that wildlife has a value, and that this value is in fact higher than the value they will get from poaching (through sale of bush meat).
In practise the system operates like this:
During a bush drive or walk the driver/guide will tick off the various game species encountered during the trip. The ticking off will be done in consultation and in agreement with the guests. After the trip the guests and the driver/guide will sign the 'tick off' list. The group of guests will be charged the accumulated amount for the number of species sightings on top of the fee paid to Sioma Camp for the activity. Based on our experiences from recent conducted bush drives/walks the average amount would probably be around US$ 25 per trip, the amount to be shared among the guests. So, using the average amount as an example, if there are 5 guests the amount to be paid by each guest would be US$ 5.
Please note that the scheme is a pilot scheme and is so far voluntary for our guests.
The funds collected will be handed over to a representative of the Village Action Groups in the three villages. The system will be monitored closely in order to make sure that the funds from the scheme will actually be allocated to activities/purchases that will benefit the respective communities, i. e. support to schools, health clinics, water supply systems etc.
We hope our guests will support the system. In our view, unless communities start benefiting from wildlife in their vicinities, they will keep on poaching and the end result will be the near total extermination of all game in the various areas and overall depreciation of the 'value' of local natural resources.
As a guest this could be your direct contribution to assist in saving African wildlife and to show that it is possible for wildlife and people to co-exist and even benefit from each other.