Thursday, June 30, 2016

Basket Weaving

Today we visited a local basket weaving cooperative in Maun, where we learned how to make baskets out of palm leaves. Different types of wood bark are used to dye the leaves in combination with complex patterns which makes for beautiful baskets. Everybody made their own little basket over the hours we spent there.

Everybody getting started.

Mariana, Kevin, and Mary concentrating.

Josie working on her basket.

Carolyn making great progress.

Mariana's beautiful little basket.

Guest Lectures

Yesterday morning we had a talk from Elmar who studies dragonflies and damselflies in Botswana. His work uses these species as bioindicators, useful for the rapid assessment of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystem health. 

We also had a lecture from Molibi on environmental acts and policies in Botswana and how they regulate human use of the environment.

Elmar presenting on dragonflies as bioindicators.

Molibi discussing the Okavango Delta Management Plan.

Everybody listening closely.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Okavango Delta

We just got back to Maun from our 4 nights in the Okavango Delta. We saw lots of elephants, giraffes, antelopes, hippos, crocodiles, African wild dogs, buffalo, a few lions, and two leopards. We also had student presentations that focused on environmental and social issues for the Okavango Delta.

We will be spending our final week here in Maun where we will have more student presentations, several guest lectures, and fun activities.

The student phones will now work again. Stay tuned for more posts in the next few days!

Elephants along the Khwai River.

Getting a close look at a leopard in a tree.

Leopard cub (roughly a year old).

Scenic views.

Hippos warming up in the sun.

Alex presenting on the effects of elephants and fire on vegetation structure in Northern Botswana.

 Kevin presenting on the future of wildlife based land uses in Botswana.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Central Kalahari Game Reserve

After Modisa, we drove into Central Kalahari Game Reserve, which is the second largest game reserve in the world (52,800 square kilometers), for 3 nights. We saw giraffes, bat-eared foxes, lions, cheetahs, a leopard, and lots of antelopes.

We are leaving Maun tomorrow morning for the Okavango Delta (Khwai) for 4 nights. Again, we will not have cell phone service there but will continue to turn on our satellite phone for emergencies.

We will post photos from the Delta when we return back to Maun. Then we have our final week together here in Maun where we will have several guest lectures and surprise activities.

Alex and Elizabeth enjoying the drive into Central Kalahari Game Reserve.

Our two highly experienced safari guides, Daryl and Colin Dandridge.

Springbok in Deception Valley.

Derry and Mustafa looking for lions.

We saw lots of giraffes!

Enjoying our afternoon game drive.

Godwin and Zebra preparing lunch. The guys behind the scenes who make everything great in camp.

Gemsbok antelope.

We found three lionesses and they were taking a nap right in the middle of the road!

Watching the lions as the sun was setting.

Heading back to camp.

Dinner in camp.

Many of us keeping warm at the fire.

Modisa Conservation Project

We arrived back in Maun yesterday after having visited Modisa Conservation Project and Central Kalahari Game Reserve.

Modisa Conservation Project was started in 2010 by Val and Mikkel on a 10,000 hectare wildlife farm located next to Central Kalahari Game Reserve. They take care of "problem" predators, including lions, leopards, and African wild dogs, which have been captured due to livestock-wildlife conflicts. Val and Mikkel establised Modisa in order to raise awareness about conservation and human-wildlife conflicts through a volunteer program in the African savanna.

Val giving us a lecture on wildlife conflicts.

Talking a walk through the bush with our safari guide, Daryl.

Daryl explaining antelope browsing behavior.

Taking a look at the lions.

One of the male lions after he was fed, which we watched from outside the enclosure.

An African wild dog in the enclosure.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Heading on Safari!

We have left our camp at Thakadu Bush Camp and have begun the safari part of our program. We arrived at Modisa Conservation Project yesterday where we have been learning about human-wildlife conflicts in Botswana. 

We are leaving Modisa tomorrow for Central Kalahari Game Reserve for 3 nights. We will be without cellphone service and internet for the next 10 days. We will, however, continue to turn our satellite phone on between 7-8 PM (Botswana time). Again, this phone is for emergencies only.

The satellite phone number: 00881631627587

We will be back in Maun for one day on the 24th of June to refuel before heading into the Okavango Delta.

Stay tuned for photos and details once we are back in town.

Student Presentations II

We’ve had several more student presentations over the last week or so. These presentations have covered various topics including differences in vegetation structure, impact of fire, sport hunting, the cattle industry, land degradation, and HIV/AIDS dynamics across Botswana.

Katie discussing the Tribal Grazing Lands Policy.

Elizabeth explaining the rainfall gradient in Botswana.

McKenna talking about HIV/AIDS statistics in Botswana.

Sam getting technical regarding fire ecology.

Mustafa explaining cattle rotation practices.

Derry discussing issues around sport hunting.

Emma outlining the study areas for her paper on land management.