Students and CIEE staff headed to Mokolodi Nature Reserve on Saturday, June 14th, to do some volunteering, learn about conservation, and (maybe) see some animals! After a final breakfast at the Bahurutshe Cultural Village, we made the hour-long drive to Mokolodi and arrived mid-morning.
Here's what's in this issue:
In addition to being a huge tourist attraction in the southern part of Botswana, Mokolodi boasts an education centre, conference facilities and space for other events. Around 10,000 children from schools throughout Botswana visit Mokolodi every year. It is a tourist destination for many, as it boasts many different kinds of animals to see on game drives—giraffes, kudu, wildebeest, rhinos, impala, and many more.
In addition to tourism and education, Mokolodi has many conservation projects going on. They nurse injured wildlife in their clinic and breed white rhinos. African rhinos are an endangered population because of poaching, so Mokolodi has been breeding white rhinos in order to help preserve the species.
After arriving at Mokolodi, we sat down with Sean, the conservation specialist, to learn a bit more about the conservation issues. He told us about the rhino breeding program and wildlife sanctuary, but he also alerted us to the issues of soil erosion going on in the park.
Soil erosion is a huge threat to the maintenance of the park. When there are heavy rains, the roads deteriorate and it makes it difficult for grasses to grow. Then, in periods of drought, the animals have a hard time finding food. A lot of Mokolodi workers, then, spend their time trying to slow down the process of soil erosion. We helped them by creating barricades using wood, rocks, and digging holes.
Soil erosion is not the only environmental issue in the park. There are also many parasitic trees that take the nutrients away from other plant species. Those who did not help with soil erosion helped in cutting down smaller trees.
Although a couple hours of volunteering did not fix all of the environmental issues in Mokolodi, we still felt like we had accomplished something!
After all the hard work, we rewarded ourselves with a late afternoon game drive. It was the first time we had experienced some of the famous southern African wildlife.
We saw a lot of giraffes, but unfortunately they were a bit far from us or hidden behind trees. We were told that giraffes are the tallest land animals. The older they get, the darker their spots become. That is one way that you can tell their age.
All in all, it was a great day!
Until next time, sala sentle! (stay well)