The Formation And Background Of The KCS
According to the Kalahari Conservation Society (KCS) Newsletter No.1 1982 Kalahari is derived from the “Tswana” word Kgalagadi meaning the great thirst. The Kalahari is one of the world’s most extensive mantles of sand that covers the hollow basin of Botswana and forms the flat plain that covers 70% of the country, and extends south into South Africa, west into Namibia, and north into Angola and Zambia.
Mr. Louis Nchindo and Mr. Chris Adams, when they were touring around Botswana, realized that few people in Botswana and even around the world were aware of the tremendous wealth of wildlife in Botswana, and how these riches were in danger of disappearing with the rapid process of development. Hence, there was a growing need for conservation. Consequently they called a meeting of interested and like-minded people, which resulted in the birth of Kalahari Conservation Society. The founding fathers wanted a name which would encompass the entire region, hence Kalahari Conservation Society and not Kgalagadi because it would have only represented a small portion of Botswana, namely the south-western part.
At the time when KCS was formed there was already a society called the Botswana Society which dealt with any issue concerning Botswana. Even though the logical name at that time could have been Botswana Conservation Society it was, however, felt that there would be confusion with the already existing Botswana Society which also dealt with conservation issues, but on a much smaller scale.
Therefore Kalahari Conservation Society is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that was inaugurated by the then His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Botswana, Sir Ketumile Masire, in 1982. The Society was formed in recognition of the pressures on Botswana’s wildlife and the general environment. KCS is the oldest environmental NGO in Botswana and has been effective in undertaking its lobbying activities through advocacy and assisting Government in policy making as well as collaborating with other Private Sector, NGOs and Government Departments to contribute to the conservation of Botswana’s environment and wildlife resources. Since its establishment, the Society has grown rapidly, receiving recognition both within Botswana and internationally.
The KCS earned much this well-deserved reputation as a concerned and effective conservation organisation through its efforts to promote and support appropriate conservation policies in Botswana and regionally. The Society has continued this role over the years and per the terms of the constitution, KCS is free to engage in virtually any type of programme, project or activity that can be carried out in the interest of the conservation of the natural environment of Botswana. However during the 1995 Assessment study of KCS, this was found to be problematic as KCS was not big enough to shoulder the burden of carrying out activities to address all conservation issues encountered in Botswana. Most members interviewed then were of the opinion that KCS had to focus its energies and resources on few high priority conservation activities or functions through which it could realistically afford to make a difference. Therefore the 1998 KCS strategic plan still gave wildlife management a priority over other natural resources to conform to those findings.
As a middle-income country, Botswana does not attract the kind of international donor funding it received in the 1980’s and early 1990’s and hence environmental NGOs along with other civil society organizations are finding it difficult to access the necessary financial resources to implement their programmes. Whilst traditional donors for the environmental sector left the country to finance programmes elsewhere, environmental conservation in general is now receiving more Government support. However, some NGOs have had to close down whilst others have scaled down and are merely surviving on little or no external funding. Given these changed circumstances, KCS developed new ways of operating, hence the theme for the 2006-10 strategy ‘Changing times for KCS’.
The Mandate and Operatives of KCS
In response to the difficult operational conditions brought about by Botswanas status as a middle income country and donor fatigue in the environmental field. The 2006-10 strategic plan emphasizes on biodiversity conservation unlike the previous plans that focused on wildlife conservation. KCS held meetings to consult members on this approach and they agreed with the consultant’s observations that over the years, the Society projects diversified from being exclusively wildlife oriented to a more holistic and integrated biodiversity conservation. This approach has broadened KCS scope of work and she is better placed to compete for transboundary projects and other large scale projects in natural resources management. The Society also continues to encourage and mobilize local communities and industries to participate in the management of natural resources responsibly. The strategy further encourages continuance to provide professional and independent advice to the Government and Private sector through acceptable and honourable approaches that have been employed over the years. Though this holistic approach has been adopted by the Society, it was unanimously agreed that the aims and objectives of the Kalahari Conservation Society still applied as at its formation:
To promote the knowledge of Botswana’s rich wildlife resources and its environment through education and publicity;
To encourage and in some cases finance research into issues affecting these resources and their conservation; and
To promote and support policies of conservation towards wildlife and its habitat.