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PAW Foundation and ORKCA: Empowering Conservation through Exposure Trips

People standing in front of sign at Richtersveld

The Richtersveld

In December 2023, the //Gamaseb Conservancy embarked on a transformative exposure trip to the Richtersveld area in South Africa, led by the ORKCA Community Program Officer, Alton Tsowaseb, our diverse delegation, including traditional leaders, committee members, community game guards, youth, and staff members, participated in a multi-faceted journey that encompassed cultural exchange, traditional practices, and insights into conservation initiatives. 

This transformative exposure trip, made possible by the generous support of the PAW Foundation, was a testament to the power of collaboration and community-driven change.

Embracing Tradition at the Khoi Language Festival

The first three days of our trip were immersed in the annual Khoi language festival in Sanddrift, South Africa. This event served as a platform to unite various Khoi languages globally and fostered unity among the Nama people across Namibian and South African borders. Our delegation engaged in traditional dances, cultural practices, and enjoyed authentic cuisine, reinforcing their connection to their roots. Visits to traditional Nama homesteads and conversations with local leaders facilitated valuable cultural exchange.

Exploring Eksteenfontein: Guardians of the Succulent Karoo

The subsequent two days were spent in Eksteenfontein, exploring the Succulent Karoo World Heritage Site. Delving into the knowledge of local plants and their medicinal and traditional uses, we discovered the potential for cultural tourism. A key takeaway was the realization that local communities can generate sustainable tourism opportunities through cultural richness and landscape, not relying solely on wildlife for tourism. Our local guide shared insights into the community’s history, showcasing old graves and heritage sites.

The delegation was treated to a traditional ‘Nama Dance’ by their counterparts across the river, a  dance that everyone joined, ending with a traditional fire and meal, and the stories between the two groups continued until the early hours of the morning

Conservation Champions at Goegab Nature Reserve

Our expedition culminated at the Goegab Nature Reserve, a state-owned sanctuary in the Succulent Karoo. Here, we engaged with local wildlife rangers, gaining valuable insights into their conservation efforts. Visits to successful local entrepreneurs. We also had a chance to visit local entrepreneurs, whose projects were funded through conservation efforts.

Preserving Identity: A Visit to the Cultural School

A poignant highlight of our journey was a visit to a cultural school dedicated to teaching children about their heritage from an early age. This initiative ensures the preservation of local customs, culture, and languages, contributing to the long-term sustainability of our community’s identity.

A Renewed Commitment to Conservation and Community

The exposure trip to Richtersveld was a pivotal experience for the //Gamaseb Conservancy. The lessons learned, particularly in the realms of cultural tourism and sustainable community development, have ignited a renewed commitment to our conservation and poverty eradication goals. 

Join us in celebrating the transformative power of community-driven change and the enduring legacy of cultural heritage.Thank you, PAW Foundation, for helping us turn visions and goals into reality.