Friday, June 23, 2017

CKGR

After our stay at Modisa, we headed to Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) - the second largest terrestrial game reserve in the world. Our days here consisted of game drives in the morning, student presentations after lunch, and then another mid-afternoon game drive before we headed back to camp for dinner. While here we saw a wide assortment of wildlife including gemsbok, springbok, giraffes, bat-eared foxes, jackals, lions (and a couple lion cubs!), and cheetahs. 

Gemsbok are easily identified by there painted faces and v-shaped horns. This one is a female based upon her narrower horns and thinner neck.

A giraffe looking for a shrub to browse on for a snack.

The black-backed jackal are a common siting at CKGR.

A young lion we found in the middle of the road.

Snapping photos from the safari vehicle.

Both of our safari vehicles side-by-side to check out a lion.

This lion yawned for us, showing off his awesome teeth.

Modisa Wildlife Project

We returned to Maun yesterday and have been staying at Camp Kitso before we leave for safari tomorrow. We'll be heading to Khwai in the Okavango Delta, where we'll be on safari for four nights. We will be without cell service in Khwai, but will have the satellite phone with us (again - for emergencies only). 

Before making the trek into Central Kalahari Game Reserve, we stopped at Modisa Wildlife Project for two nights. Modisa is a volunteer-run conservation project that tackles issues related to human-wildlife conflict in the Kalahari. They also provide food and shelter for multiple large predators at the heart of these conflicts - including lions, wild dogs, and leopards. 

On the drive to Modisa, our driver Colin found a large stick insect.

On our first afternoon at Modisa, we were given an introduction to human-wildlife conflict in Botswana by Val, the co-founder and conservation operator at Modisa.

Having fun on the volleyball court at Modisa's camp.

Sara snapping a photo of a cool moth she found on a bush walk around the property.

Julianne (our resident herpetologist) showing off an agama lizard she found on the walk.

TAKE THE WORLD BY THE HORNS

African wild dogs watching us curiously at Modisa.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Leaving Thakadu - Heading out on Safari!

Tomorrow morning we will be leaving our base camp at Thakadu Bush Camp and begin the safari portion of our program. We will first spend two nights at Modisa Conservation Project where we will be learning about human-wildlife conflict in Botswana.

From there, we head out to Central Kalahari Game Reserve for 3 nights. We then have a one-day stopover in Maun to refuel before we head to the Okavango Delta for 4 nights. Except for the 23rd when we are in Maun, we will be without cellphone service and internet for the next 11 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

Stay tuned for photos and details once we are back!

Student Presentations 5

On Wednesday, Ben and Sara finished off our student presentations for our stay at Thakadu. They presented on topics related to dryland assessment and livelihood dynamics in drylands.

Ben presented on a paper aiming at an increased focus of coupled human-natural systems in drylands.

Sara presented on livelihood dynamics in drylands related to resource use, including Grewia shrubs that we've seen here at Thakadu.

Student Introductions 8

Last up for our student introductions is tent conTent - Kooky Katie and Juvenile Guinea Fowl Janna!

Howdy! My name is Katie and I'm a 4th year Environmental Science major. I'm really excited to be in Botswana to gain practical field experience, learn more about African cultures, see some wild animals, and gaze at spectacular stars. One of the most interesting things we've done so far is learn the local language, Setswana, from our new friend, Tefo. Ke rate go leba bophirima jwa letsatsi in Botswana, which means I love to watch the sunsets in Botswana. I would like to thank my mom and dad for all their support in my travels home. Go siame!

Hola! My name is Janna. I'm a 4th year Environmental Science major and Philosophy Minor. Ke a itumela go bala le go tsamaya go Africa. I am primarily here because I am incredibly interested in the intersection of environmental and societal issues, which we will be thoroughly studying during our 6 weeks abroad. However, I wouldn't possibly be here without the passionate recommendations of my good friends Shelby, Jack, Alec, and Elizabeth (who have all previously taken part in this program), the generous contributions of my Uncle Mike and the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Endowment for International and Multidisciplinary Studies, and the unending support of my parents le ke mosadi, Justina. A huge thanks to every single one of y'all! Ke a le boga!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Student Introductions 7

Today's introductions are from the residents of Tent Cheetah Girls, Elegant Elizabeth and Athletic Anneka!

Dumela, leina lame ke Elizabeth. I'm an incoming junior majoring in Environmental Science. I am a part of the Liberal Arts Honors program, Green Geeks, and Alpha Chi Omega. I enjoy running to the capital and around the green belts in my spare time. I am very excited to be in Botswana gaining hands on experience in the realm of sustainability and conservation. Plus, learning about all of the wildlife is amazing as well! I would like to thank the college of liberal arts, LAH, and my wonderful family for supporting this trip and helping me get here.

Dumela! My name is Anneka and I am a Biology and Plan II major at UT going into my junior year. I've been wanting to come explore Africa for as long as I can remember, and I'm very grateful to be here. I would firstly like to thank my 5th grade science teacher, Mrs. Volshenk, for nurturing my love of biology when we dissected a fish. I would also like to thank the creators of National Geographic magazine for teaching me about the world and inspiring me to travel. I mostly want to thank my parents for giving me the opportunities to travel and live around the world. Mom, thank you for preparing me well for this 6 week camping trip and always being so supportive of adventures. Dad, thank you so much for making this whole experience possible, without you this would still be a dream. Lastly, thank you to all my friends and supporters who encouraged me to come on this trip and explore one of the few truly wild places left on earth. Love, Anneka

Soil Science

No environmental science course would be complete without examining the local soil! We've learned how to dig a soil pit, including the most common "pit"falls to avoid. (To all of the soil scientists out there - yes, we did intentionally dig the soil pit incorrectly in order to show what not to do. Experiential learning is the best type of learning!)

Athletic Anneka is quickly becoming Auger Anneka!

Contemplating the depths to which we will sink for science.

Celine celebrating the completion of the 1 meter deep soil pit!

Bonus photo: Learning to mix cement to install a rain gauge station.