This small village is well signposted on the D3511, just to the north of Lianshulu, and is an important attraction for visitors. N$20 is charged as an entrance fee, and visitors are guided around the village where traditional arts and crafts are being practised. Aside from the fascination of the actual attractions – an iron forge, a grain store, and various carvers and basket weavers – a visit here gives a good opportunity to sit down and talk to some local people about their way of life. This is just one of several important community projects in this area.Conservation projects
The solution tried here is simple: to link the success of the lodge and the national park with direct economic benefits for the local community, and thus to promote conservation of the local wildlife.
The problem with many national parks in Africa has been that the surrounding local communities feel little benefit from the tourists. However, they are affected by the park's animals, which raid their crops and kill their livestock. Thus the game animals are regarded as pests, and killed for their meat and skins whenever possible.
In the Mudumu area the need to involve the communities in conservation is being directly addressed in at least four projects: the community game-guard scheme, the bed-night levy, the Lizauli Traditional Village, and the thatching grass project.
The first employs game-guards, recruited from the local villages, to stem poaching and educate about conservation. They are paid by grants from the US, WWF and Namibia's own Endangered Wildlife Trust.
Secondly, there is a nominal charge per bed-night on the reserve's visitors (already included in Lianshulu's prices) which goes directly to the communities most affected by the park. This aims to compensate for any loss of crops or stock caused by wild animals, and show that the wildlife can be of direct financial benefit to the local people.
Thirdly, Lizauli Traditional Village is an attraction by which the local people themselves can earn money directly from visitors. This inevitably depends upon the flow of visitors through the reserve. Thus more animals should mean more visitors and hence more income for the village – so the local people benefit financially if the area's wildlife is preserved.
Finally, in 1994 Grant from Lianshulu started a scheme to transport thatching grass from the area further south, where there is a strong demand for its use in thatching new safari lodges and chalets. Drive down the D3511 during the late dry season to see the success of this. Now people will come from all over Namibia to buy grass from the roadside here. The local communities all collect and bundle it, knowing that there's plenty of demand and it will sell. It is, of course, a truly sustainable resource, which can only be produced if the local communities continue to conserve the environment.