I, Simon Morgan, have been in Botswana for the last few months exploring with our new Botswana Director, Robyn Hartley, to see how Wildlife ACT can assist with conservation work in the Okavango Delta and surrounds. We have visited old camps that we could potentially run projects from and have got ourselves a Wildlife ACT mokoro to cruise around in!
It has been very fruitful and we have identified a wildlife monitoring need in the form of new regulations for wildlife concession holders. The Standardised Natural Resource Monitoring Protocol designed by the Southern Africa Regional Environmental Program (SAREP) for the Botswana’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) has just been completed and in the implementation phase. We have put up our hands to offer assistance in the implementation process and are looking to work in some really exciting places in the Okavango Delta, Chobe National Park region and the migration route area between Nxai Pans and Chobe National Park… details to follow soon, watch this space!
During our explorations I was lucky enough to meet up with Kingsley Holgate who is one of the worlds most travelled explorers and humanitarians, having criss-crossed Africa in various forms handing out hundreds of thousands of mosquito nets to abate the spread of deadly malaria. During his travels he has visited each and every country on the Continent, circumnavigated the globe along the Tropic of Cancer and recently the rim of Africa by Land Rover.
We are currently working with the Kingsley Holgate Foundation on an exciting rhino conservation project called Rhino Art. On his travels down the Lebombo Mountain range on his last adventure, Kingsley handed out blank pages which had an outline of rhino on it to children. The results have been amazing and the insight into how they have been affected and feel towards rhino poaching has been astounding. They are looking to expand the project out into Vietnam to get feedback on the children’s view over there and to assist with a demand reduction campaign that we are all collaborating on.
Anyways – back to Botswana! It was with great joy that I was lucky enough to head out for the day to explore Lake Ngami with Kingsley, his son Ross and Walk Botswana’s Gareth Flemix in his trusty Landrover. This is a lake which has not had water for decades and one which Kingsley last saw as a dust bowl… It was awesome to arrive there to find the lake full to the point that fishermen were hauling out massive catches of bream and the area was brimming with water birds.
Kingsley was full of stories and information about the area and previous explorers encounters with this famous lake. After finding out all the fishermen’s names and what they were about, Kingsley has such an interest in the local happenings and who is who, we were offered a fishing vessel to head out into the lake with. After a fish braai on the side of the lake we headed out with Kingsley at the helm – to be exploring in this new region for us with a living explorer legend and adventurer was such an awesome privilege and humbling experience.
Going forward we are hoping to have some projects listed in Botswana before the middle of the year, with amazing opportunities for students and researchers and remote areas for conservation volunteers to get lost in!
For more information on how to join Wildlife ACT in Botswana, click here.