Friday, May 29, 2015

First Day in Camp, Bush Walk, and Setswana Lessons

After a six-hour drive along dirt tracks, we arrived at our base camp in Ghanzi yesterday afternoon. This morning, Professor Thoralf gave us an introduction to Thakadu Game Farm that covered the environmental features of the area. Guided by Thoralf, we then went on our first bush walk and got to experience the vegetation, geology, and wildlife of Thakadu. 

After lunch we had our first introduction to Setswana, the national language of Botswana, from Jeb, a Botswana student and resident. He covered some essential words and phrases that will be useful during our stay here. He will also be giving us a second lesson tomorrow afternoon.

On the road to Ghanzi.

We stopped for a lunch break in the shade.

Professor Thoralf explaining the layout of Thakadu Farm before our first walk around the property.

Professor Thoralf stops to explain the geologic features of the area.

Jeb giving us an introduction to Setswana in the lecture tent.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Reporting in from Maun

We have all arrived in Maun safe and sound! Tonight we are staying at Okavango River Lodge, a local backpacker. We will depart on a lengthy drive early tomorrow morning for our base camp in Ghanzi. Thakadu Bush Camp will be our home for the next three and a half weeks. Stay tuned for more posts and updates as the program gets underway.

Many greetings from Botswana!

The group all together at Okavango River Lodge.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Study Abroad Botswana 2015

Hi everyone! 

We are currently in Maun, Botswana getting everything set up for the program to begin this coming Wednesday, the 27th of May. We have two student phones, which the students will be able to use freely once they get here. You can also call Professor Thoralf or TA Dan if you cannot get through (in case of emergencies ONLY).

Calling from the US to Botswana: 011 + 267 + phone number

Student Phone 1: 76 98 53 89
Student Phone 2: 76 98 53 79
Thoralf: 72 67 08 36
Dan: 76 50 96 29

Cell phone service in Botswana does not work as well as in the United States, so you may have to call a few times to get through. We have also been experiencing power black outs from time to time which also means you might not be able to get through.

We will have a satellite phone ready once the program starts, which will be turned on every night between 7-8 PM (Botswana time, which Texas is currently 7 hours behind). This phone will work in case of power black outs and when we are on safari (where there is no phone service coverage). This phone is for absolute emergencies ONLY.

The satellite phone number: 00881631627587

Safe travels and see y'all soon!!

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.