Botswana’s first community-based conservation project is managed and staffed by residents of four local communities – Nata, Maphosa, Sepako and Manxotae. It is a good example of a non-consumptive means of wildlife utilisation that brings direct financial benefit to local communities. Proceeds from tourism activities in the sanctuary are shared by the four communities for whatever development projects they decide they want and need.
About 3 000 head of cattle belonging to members of these four communities were voluntarily moved out of the area for the establishment of the sanctuary. Nata Sanctuary opened its gates to the public in 1993, and in the same year was awarded the Tourism for Tomorrow award for the southern hemisphere. Covering an area of 250 sq kms – comprising both grasslands and pans, in an important environmentally sensitive area – the sanctuary offers easy access to the pans, and pleasant, reasonably priced camping facilities.
In the peak season, birding, and even game viewing, can be good. When there is water in the pans, thousands of flamingos, pelicans, ducks and geese congregate, and the scene is indeed awe-inspiring. an elevated hide provides an unbeatable panorama of the pans.