Victoria Falls Reporter
THE Woodlands Conservancy Community has received its first dividends in 19 months following the appointment of a new board of director. The new board recently took over the running of Woodlands Conservancy outside Victoria Falls after 118 villagers who benefited from the land reform programme had gone for 19 months without receiving their dividends besides the fact that the conservancy was raking in over $100 000 annually from hunting safaris.
The new board, led by Engineer Tendai Musasa, last week disbursed the dividend payout to the community.
In an interview, Eng Musasa said they had negotiated a guaranteed $120 000 operator usage rights fees with a hunting operator for the benefit of the land reform beneficiaries.
“I am glad to note that we have since paid the villagers $100 each as the first dividend from a hunt that took place recently. If there were no squabbles with the previous board, the villagers could have received more but the hunter refused to stay at the camp.”
“The usage rights fees provides for guaranteed dividends payout to the Woodlands Conservancy Community which they can predictably plan upon and freely approach banking institutions for project and loan financial services with their share certificates,” he said.
Eng Musasa said the priority of his board was to stem the ecological ruin that had seen dams run dry due to non-service of pumps.
“As I speak the conservancy has recorded deaths of an elephant and 2 kudus through poaching and mud trapping resulting from thirst and water scarcity. There is a direct correlation between the conservancy’s ecological prosperity and these dividends payouts with poaching and the well-being of the wild animals. When people do not see the benefit of the wild animals we naturally begin to see an exponential variance increase in poaching or other ecologically unfriendly activities. This is not a picture we want to portray to the world ahead of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly.”
Eng Musasa said he will ensure his board was people driven.
“The dividends provide a safety net to the poor and disadvantaged who can then see clearly the calculus of how their livelihoods are being supported directly by benefits from the government land reform exercise. By taking care of the community there is a reverse benefit to conservation, poverty alleviation and employment opportunities,” said Eng Musasa.