A large part of Namibia is desert land. The biggest desert is the Kalahari Desert covering an area of 750,000 square miles. The Khwe (San bushmen) have been living here for thousands of years and developed abilities and knowledge about dealing with nature which shape their culture to this day.
Today, the Namibian bushmen are more and more confronted with the modern world. Their cultural practices like hunting and gathering in the wilderness are threatened to be lost. Especially legal reasons prohibit the Khwe's traditional practices like the wildlife tracking. Although living solely from hunting and gathering fruits is no longer a real option for the vast majority of San communities, many do still gain a substantial portion of their subsistence from their wilderness environment. Given that most Khwe children undergo an education system that does not transfer indigenous knowledge of their community, the precious cultural knowledge is almost said to be lost.
The TEKOA (Traditional Environmental Knowledge and Outreach Academy) aims to transfer indigenous knowledge and skills. Khwe elders are trained to teach their school-going and school-leaving youth in various aspects of their rich heritage like wildlife tracking, ethno-botany, sustainable natural resource management, traditional leadership and conflict management strategies, history and their language. Besides ensuring that Khwe knowledge and skills are passed on, TEKOA also has a business idea behind it that shall ensure the communities near the Bwabwate National Park a long-term independent income.
The aim of this project is to make the knowledge of the Khwe people perceptible for tourists. In this way, the cultural Khwe heritage is preserved and an income source for the local communities is ensured. Based on Khwe Tracking skills and together with San communities TEKOA will develop and test a professional tourism product, which shows tourists how to read wildlife tracks. This project will be implemented in the Bwabwate National Park in the Caprivi strip, a key area within the KAZA TFCA, the largest conservation area worldwide and Futouris partner as well (see project here).
By the end of 2014, there shall be a marketable wilderness experience /tracking program as an integral part of the TEKOA initiative. It will be used by tourism companies from Germany and other countries and generates an income to the TEKOA and Khwe communities. The first step is the development of a multi-level wilderness experience/tracking curriculum and program for tourists. After the implementation of the pilot program training manuals, a program brochure and general standards will be developed and finalized.