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07/24/2014

Summer 2014 Issue II: Animals and Hard Work at Mokolodi

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DUMELANG (HELLO!)

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.

Nature reserve

Here's what's in this issue:

Background of Mokolodi
Manual Labor
First Glimpse of Botswana Game

BACKGROUND OF MOKOLODI

Image6Mokolodi Nature Reserve is located about 10 km away from Gaborone and was founded in 1994 by the Mokolodi Wildlife Foundation.

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.

MANUAL LABOR

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.

Image6Emily getting ready to put those rocks in an eroded road. Don't worry - she had some help!

Image6Allie, Brett and Rachel digging space to put the wood logs into. They then put rocks around the logs to help prevent the soil and other plants from eroding when heavy rains come.

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Image6Koketso, Sara, Abbey and Alex digging holes. Having holes in relatively flat land helps to trap the water so it does not run and take the vegetation with it.

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.

Image6Bianca used the axe to great success!
Image6But sometimes teamwork made the job go faster - Michaela and Kate used those muscles!

Although a couple hours of volunteering did not fix all of the environmental issues in Mokolodi, we still felt like we had accomplished something!

FIRST GLIMPSE OF BOTSWANA GAME

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.

Safari carIn the safari truck: Pops, Meaghan, Ashley, Bianca, Sara, Brett, Maria, Michaela, Kate and Caitlin

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.

Animals 1

Animals 2Male Impala

Animals 3Wildebeest, one of the "ugly five"

All in all, it was a great day!

Until next time, sala sentle! (stay well)

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