Thursday, July 10, 2014

Re a leboga (many thanks) from Botswana!

UT Study Abroad Botswana 2014 has come to a close. The majority of students left this afternoon for their respective destinations. Some are heading off to travel in Zambia, Mozambique, and South Africa, while others will be headed back home to Texas. Three remaining students will fly out of Maun tomorrow.

Thanks to everyone who participated and helped make these past six weeks a blast! In addition to the fantastic students, we would like to give thanks to the great people and organizations that made this trip possible:

Thakadu Bush Camp
 Thanks to Chris and Jeanette for their gracious hospitality during our time in Ghanzi, as well as Riana, Sylvie and Kassie for all of their help.

For running our base camps in Ghanzi and Maun, and for providing their guidance and knowledge while on safari in CKGR and Moremi, thanks to Colin, Daryl, Zebra, and the rest of the Kitso staff.

For months of planning, advertising, and endless support.
Lastly, thanks to the UT Department of Geography & the Environment for their continued support in this program.

One last group photo before everyone departs.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Basket Weaving in Maun

On Monday, we visited a local women's basket weaving cooperative in town. We took lessons on basket weaving and by the end of the day had our own hand-made baskets to take home with us. While here, we also learned about the veld products used for basket production and the significance of some different weaving patterns.

Olivia weaving her basket.

Ben and his basket.

Melissa with her almost-finished basket.

Everyone focused on weaving.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Student Presentations (Aubrey, Joyce, and Bianca)

We've finished up our student article presentations over the past couple of days while at Camp Kitso. Yesterday, Aubrey presented on the effects of Community-Based Natural Resource Management on employment rates, household income, and livelihood strategies in the Okavango Delta region. 

After lunch, Joyce presented on the effectiveness of basket weaving for improving rural livelihoods and providing additional sources of income for these households. We will get to see locally produced baskets this Monday at a women's basket weaving cooperative here in Maun.

This morning, Bianca spoke about land management and policy change in the Lake Ngami region, located roughly 100 kilometers south of Maun. Recently, a large amount of the traditionally communal lands in this area have been privatized by policies aimed at reducing impact to these lands, resulting in a "shrinking of the commons."

Aubrey and her presentation on Community-Based Natural Resource Management in the Delta.

Joyce (with her melon) and her creative presentation on basket weaving in the Delta.

Bianca with her presentation on land management policy implications in the Lake Ngami region.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Student Presentations (Melissa and Jake)

While on safari in Moremi Game Reserve we had two student presentations from Melissa and Jake. Melissa presented on the diversity of species within the Okavango Delta. The region hosts a wide variety of flora and fauna, with 1300 plants, 71 fish species, 33 amphibians, 64 reptiles, 444 birds, and 122 mammals.

Jake presented on local attitudes towards three Community-based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) projects within the Okavango Delta. These projects have been embraced by local communities, which help financially support villages and in turn have modernized these region's once subsistence lifestyles.

Melissa with her presentation on species diversity in the Okavango Delta.

Jake and his presentation on CBNRM projects in the Okavango Delta.

Moremi Game Reserve

We are now back in Maun from an amazing 4 nights in Moremi Game Reserve. We explored the wetland ecosystem, learned about its environment, and had some great encounters with wildlife such as lions, African wild dogs, spotted hyena, giraffes, hippos, and lots of elephants.

We are spending our last few days until July 10th (when the program ends) at Kitso Camp in Maun. We have several things planned including a boat cruise for July 4th, visiting a local basket weaving association, and several guest lectures by local researchers on various topics from environmental monitoring to dynamics of local livelihoods.

Viewing African wild dogs on the drive towards our campsite on the first day in Moremi.

Our campsite.

Will enjoying a book during our lunch break.

Geoff and our safari guide Daryl.

Daryl showing us a bull frog, which usually hibernates during the winter months.

Driving across Mboma Island.

Two giraffes we watched during a cookie break.

One of multiple water crossings.

Elephants roaming in the floodplain before sunset.

Watching two male lions up close.

African wild dogs getting ready for a hunt.

UT study abroad group photo.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Moremi Game Reserve...

We are now back in Maun. The student phones are back up and running. Maun is having internet problems today so we will try to upload photos from Moremi Game Reserve again tomorrow.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Leaving for Moremi Game Reserve

Tomorrow morning we head out for safari into the Moremi Game Reserve for four nights. We will again be without cell phone service but will have our satellite phone turned on from 7-8 (Botswana time) for emergencies only.

The satellite phone number: 00881631627587

We are eager to experience a drastically different environment as we venture into the wetlands of the Okavango Delta. We will update the blog with pictures and details when we return to Maun, where we will be staying for the remainder of the program.