This week Tuesday was a great day for the traditional leader of the VaGciriku clan of Kavango East Region, Hompa (Chief) Kassian Shiyambi. Tuesday was the official ground-breaking ceremony at Khaudum National Park for the construction of three park stations, offices, 61 staff houses plus attractive entrance gates and visitor receptions.
“This is a great day, and indeed a joyful day for me. I’m very happy to see what is happening. I appreciate the deputy minister coming from far to come officiate at this historical ground-breaking event and at the same time I would like to thank everyone who came to witness the ground-breaking,” the hompa said.
The Khaudum National Park is located 53km south of the Trans Caprivi-Zambezi Highway from Katere junction in Ndiyona Constituency.
But Hompa Shiyambi expressed slight disappointment that not many people visit the area. He said as far as he could tell not everyone who was in attendance on the day had ever before visited Khaudum. And he wants people to visit because “this is a very beautiful and large place and it borders Botswana, with a diversity of fauna and flora, and especially for its renowned wildlife.”
The park stations will cost N$136 million, of which N$107 million is provided by German development and cooperation and N$29 million by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET).
One park station is being built at Khaudum’s northern entrance and another at Sikerette, the southern entrance of the park. The third station will be built at Shisinze in the Nkasa Rupara National Park in Zambezi Region.
“The park management must take care of the wild animals and the natural resources, preserve them as we have over the years and be watchful of those that are coming. The visitors – some of them come with plans to destroy but those that come with good intentions, welcome them. I know that it’s not an easy thing to be a ranger, a herder of wild animals, however that is the nature of it and I commend you all for your efforts,” he said. An optimistic Hompa Shiyambi concedes that development does happen at a slow pace but eventually it is achieved and to the benefit of people. The hompa also supports the initiatives of wildlife conservation and tourism management.
“The people should learn from those that have capacity and skills by forming associations and cooperatives and thereby secure funding and be able to do something to benefit communities. People must take ownership and rise to work,” he added.
The VaGciriku hompa’s only request to the environment ministry is to look into the issue of human-wildlife conflict as residents are affected by this conflict in various ways.
He also took time to praise businessman Vitor Azevedo who has constructed a lodge, Xaudum Lodge, in the park that now employs local people.
“At first when they brought him to me I had doubts that he might not achieve building the lodge but today I am very much impressed to see he did and it’s very beautiful. I spent the night there. Now there are employment opportunities for people around here,” Hompa Shiyambi said.
The lodge will soon be opened to the public.
“My people, you should learn from such people, watch them when they are doing things and later stand up and also implement it in your conservancies, and so on. Take ownership of our resources,” he said.