All indications are that we are entering another drought cycle, with the looming possibility of the rains arriving late and falling far short of what is needed: To prepare for this and cope with the rising wildlife water demand (which our current boreholes cannot meet), we need urgent funding support to equip up to two unused boreholes in proximity to Morama with solar powered pumps, and to upgrade the G/hui!ahn borehole to also pump at night using a generator (as Morama borehole already does). If you would like to lend support, please direct your enquiry to us at email@example.com
With financial support from the World Wildlife Fund (August 2021 to June 2023), KWT was able to much more adequately resource, train and support its already-existing wildlife monitoring teams (first initiated in 2019), to consistently and reliably implement spoor data collection and anti-poaching surveillance on a monthly basis in Western Ngamiland.
The Botswana portion of the Ngamiland-Khaudum Wildlife Dispersal Area (WDA), encompassing NG1 to NG5 and the western parts of NG7, NG8 and NG9 (see MAP below), comprises over 3 million hectares of wildlife habitat essential to cross-border landscape connectivity: in the envisaged KAZA (Kavango-Zambezi) Transfrontier Conservation Area. This overlooked WDA area has immense potential for development of community based conservation and tourism implementation and for the recovery of its migratory wildlife biomass, yet KWT is the only conservation agency actively involved on the ground in conserving this landscape and supporting the development of conservation based livelihoods.
Involving remote Ju/hoansi San communities of NG3 and NG2, the monitoring program enables small teams to do regular long distance foot patrols along a 50km section of the border fence-line with Namibia (i.e. along the Northeastern boundary of Nyaenyae Conservancy and the Southeastern boundary of Khaudum National Park), and across vast stretches of adjacent habitat inside NG3 and NG2. Up to 45 men are involved on a rotational basis, typically with three 4-man teams concurrently embarking on separate foot patrol routes, every month, each patrol lasting up to 13 days. Departing from KWT's field base camp at Xaosha (13km north of Dobe), these bush-wise teams each cover hundreds of kilometres of remote terrain each month, carrying all their own camping equipment, food and water in backpacks (supplemented by wild plant foods they gather from the veld along the way), and navigating to strategic water resupply points before returning to base camp. Patrols are also done right across NG3 (over 1 million hectares in extent), and between KWT's boreholes located in the western and eastern extremities of NG3.
Since July 2023, the project has been challenged by lack of funding support which has forced KWT to scale down its patrol program, however timely donations from Somarelo Trust and Wilderness Wildlife Trust, have helped to keep the two strategic wildlife boreholes operational. The program is now transitioning towards carbon market based financing, with the assistance of the Australian-based Maki Planet Systems (affiliated to the International Savanna Fire Management Initiative), which is working towards helping KWT to reinstate and expand its patrol activities and could potentially lead to longer-term support.
Other regular contributions include: Future for Elephants, which sponsored the replacement of the Morama borehole pump with an upgraded pump and solar system in 2022; Mr. Onakitso Matenanga (owner of Mogotho cattlepost) for his logistical support and resupply services to Morama borehole; and Mr. Thad Tucker of Mahopa for his support to G/hui!ahn borehole and Xaosha base camp operations.
Last but not least, the KWT assistant program coordinator Mr. Dahm Xixae and the patrol manager Mr. Kashe Nxauwe, for their hard work and involvement in coordinating and supporting the community field activities.
This program has the following outputs:
1. It provides vital employment for many San families who otherwise have no employment opportunities in this remote region: Combined community earnings for this part-time monitoring work totals around P200,000 per annum when the program is fully operational.
2. It has been highly effective it deterring poaching in NG3 by bushmeat poaching syndicates, through the ability of the teams to rapidly relay intelligence via satellite phones to KWT and the Botswana Department of Wildlife and National Park's Anti poaching Unit. As a result of KWT's presence, NG3 and Southern NG2 are relatively well-safeguarded and the wildlife populations in these areas are stable and not suffering poaching related declines, as is the case elsewhere in Western Ngamiland.
3. The two KWT-operated strategic wildlife boreholes (Morama and G/hui!ahn) are critically important to promoting wildlife dispersal (including cross-border) and to sustaining wildlife in the dry season and their continued operation is essential to avoiding drought-related wildlife losses and to maintaining operational presence to deter the entry into NG3 of bushmeat poaching syndicates.
The boreholes also plat a vital human wildlife conflict mitigation role, in particular by providing alternative drinking water to elephants in remote areas, thereby ensuring that they do not venture into populated farming areas. Since 2019, both boreholes have been critically important in stopping elephants from visiting cattleposts and villages in search of water, which prior to the start-up of the boreholes was resulting in frequent and costly damage by elephants to farming borehole infrastructure and water tanks,
Staff maintain daily records of wildlife visits to these boreholes, based on spoor recordings, dating back to their operational start-up in 2019: This data is useful to understanding wildlife population growth trends, seasonal use dynamics, competitive effects and other behavioural responses.
4. The patrol spoor data collected on a monthly basis is in the process of being analyzed by KWT and its technical partner (Marie Charlotte-Gielen) to generate wildlife species density estimates for NG3. This will enable more effective management of natural resources in an area where no other entity is gathering wildlife data and where the aerial census data typically used by DWNP is outdated and too unreliable to be of practical use. The host communities wish to demonstrate their ability to conserve and monitor their natural resources to enable their effective and meaningful participation in decision-making processes related to use of resources in their traditional areas.
5. Traditional knowledge in danger of disappearing is being revived through the transfer of tracking and other skills from elders ("senior trackers") to younger team members. Many settlement based youths, previously unemployed and with no or very minimal traditional knowledge, are now proud and proficient trackers able to use their skills to support their families.