Quthing Wildlife Development Trust (QWDT), a local NGO based in southern Lesotho has started in 1988 as the 'Wildlife Society of Lesotho'. The main aim was formerly to protect the endangered Bearded Vulture in Quthing District. Since then the number of members increased up to more than 250 today representing all social levels.
Community meetings are regularly held in the villages to inform the Trust members and to initiate new projects. All activities of QWDT are conducted freelance and voluntarily by its members. During the years the working field diversified from sole conservation to sustainable use of the natural resources.
With the background of a progressive destruction of natural resources, the decrease in agricultural productivity and the loss of income generating possibilities in the rural areas the projects of QWDT today are aimed at:
- Conservation of the natural living conditions
- Conservation of key species
- Promotion of sustainable use of the natural resources
- Development of alternative income generation for the rural population.
For years QWDT is financially and technically supported by international development organizations. After HELVETAS stopped its 2 years support in 2003, German Development Service (DED), working on behalf of the German Government (BMZ), continued the support which resulted in a fruitful co-operation that ensured the organizational development of QWDT and the generation of alternative income possibilities in this part of the country.
In 2004 QWDT participated in the 3rd Sustainable Tourism Prize of the Tourism Summits at Geneva and achieved the 1st prize (out of 22 projects from all over the world) for its successful development of ecotourism in Quthing District.
Several communities have expressed their wish that QWDT is supporting them in the field of conservation and tourism development. Some of the proposed projects for the near future include:
- Extension and diversification of tourist activities in areas of the Quthing District which are not yet considered in the current tourism development (e.g. Bolahla, Seforong, Qomoqomong, Tele-Tele, Sinxondo): Together with the local community councils, an introduction of new tourist activities and facilities is planned, especially in the form of building new tourist accommodation facilities and the introduction of not yet existing tourist activities like canoeing.
- Improvement of the appearance and the information offer in the Dinosaur- Footprint-Museum in Lower Moyeni: A 'Memorandum of Understanding' (MoU) is in process between the Government of Tourism and Culture and QWDT handing the management of the famous Dinosaur-Footprint-Museum over to QWDT.
- Declaration of a conservation area around the wetland Letseng-la-Letsie: Letseng-la-Letsie is a very important wetland area near the border to South Africa (Ongeluksnek). A cross-border conservation is strived for and sustainable ecotourism is planned to be introduced.
- Rock art conservation in the Tsatsane Valley: There are beautiful bushman paintings near the village Ha Liphapnag that are in very good shape and highly necessary to protect. A study on the paintings is conducted by a research group of the University of Bloemfontein and first steps towards a sustainable protection of the area are undertaken, together with the local community council.