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Reflecting on a tough year

RENENUE STREAM: Linyanti Bush Camp

Chobe Enclave Trust hold AGM

The Chobe Enclave Conservation Trust (CECT) held their Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Mabele village on the final day (Sunday 31) of October.

The trust is made up of the five villages: Satau, Mabele, Kavimba, Parakarungu and Kachikau.

Singled out as one of the best run Community Based Organisations in the country, CECT has been in existence since 1994.

In his year-end report, the Trust Chairperson, Poniso Shamukuni admitted Covid-19 and its subsequent restrictions have made for a challenging 12 months, some of the toughest in CECT’s 27-year history.

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He lamented the pandemic for effectively bringing business to a halt, with non-consumptive tourism related income streams (Ngoma Lodge and Linyanti Bush Camp) dwindling to their lowest ever.

“We had to respond with effective financial management, with smarter decisions both on acquisition of services and usage,” stated Shamukuni on managing the Trust’s costs and cash flows.

The Chairperson stressed it is now more important than ever that the relationships between CECT and its investors are not only maintained but traded with caution for ‘uncertain times’ lie ahead.

Highlighting the devastating effect Covid-19 has had on jobs in the area, Shamukuni revealed that due to loss of business during the pandemic, the total number of casual employees was reduced by 50 percent.

To further mitigate costs, overtime worked during 2021 was compensated with time-off instead of cash payments.

“Assets acquisition was also put on hold for the financial year 2021 unless in exceptional circumstances,” he added.

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The Chairperson further declared the 2020/21 hunting season ‘unsuccessful’ due to a number of issues.

He explained they auctioned their hunting quota to SV Safaris, but the hunting season got delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to Shamukuni, of the allocated quota, only 40 percent was hunted by SV Safaris. He attributed this to veld fires that engulfed over a quarter of CH1, the Trust’s hunting area.

Shamukuni further explained that prior to 2014, CECT used to hunt in the CH2 but this has since changed and as a result the just ended hunting season was not successful.

“Most hunters preferred animals found in CH2. There’s a need for the government to consider availing CH2 for consumptive tourism as was the case prior 2014,” Shamukuni said.

The Chairperson further conceded there are lessons to be learned from the past two years.

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“The biggest lesson is that we need to diversify the Trust’s income generating streams. There’s a need for a clear path or transitioning plan from joint ventures to solo, which will mean the trust running photographic lodges and hunting camps,” he said, adding that to achieve this, CECT and its partners have to merge efforts aimed at transferring skills from investors to the local community.

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