The partner conservancies of Shipwreck Lodge are the Puros Conservancy, established in May 2000, and the Sesfontein Conservancy, established in July 2003. Together, the two conservancies cover more than 6,000 km2. The majority of the population are Ovahimba and Ovaherero people.
Shipwreck Lodge recruits lodge staff from these conservancies, thus helping to support multiple households. The company has also purchased 4x4 vehicles to assist the conservancies with wildlife and environmental management.
In their capacity as landlords, the conservancies are paid monthly fees, i.e. 8% of the turnover of the lodge business. Therefore the conservancies themselves have a vested interest in the overall success of the lodge and the support they provide to the tourism business.
Communal conservancies are self-governing, democratic entities, run by their members. The borders are determined in agreement with adjacent conservancies, communities or landowners.
The first four communal conservancies were established in 1998. These pioneer conservancies became the model for economic survival and growth in harsh rural settings.
Conservancies have the right to establish tourism enterprises. Those with potential formed joint ventures with the private sector. As wildlife numbers grew and were sustained by conservation measures, lodges became a regular feature in some conservancies, bringing them income and experience and creating employment.
At present there are 83 registered conservancies in Namibia. In some conservancies, tourism is becoming the key source of income. For most conservancy members farming is still the main source for making a living. However, the growing effects of climate change make access to alternative income streams increasingly important.