April 5

Conservation in Botswana: Leaving a Legacy


April 5, 2024

Embarking on a luxury African safari is a dream come true for many, and combining this with conservation in Botswana makes it even more impactful. Behind the scenes, a ripple effect improves the lives of multiple generations, communities, wildlife, and habitats. But how exactly is your luxury safari making a tangible difference? We take you on a journey through what conservation in Botswana entails...

One of Botswana's greatest wonders, the Okavango River Delta

The Okavango River in Botswana is a mystical waterland 

Conservation Changemakers in Botswana 

Our preferred travel partners listed below are dedicated to strategising initiatives, implementing sustainable solutions, reporting on the tangible difference they're making, and improving their endeavours to strengthen relationships with partners and communities.

Your luxury safari is more than just a holiday – it's a catalyst for improving communities. Here's how you can make a difference by travelling with Rhino Africa and our partners.

Elephants in the Khwai River

Conservation in Botswana is all about protecting its wildlife, landscapes, and communities, Image Credit: Tuludi Camp

1. African Bush Camps

African Bush Camps (ABC) run numerous projects in communities close to their properties. Collectively, these programmes address poor education infrastructure, low school attendance, unemployment, financial constraints, and other issues. They do this by collaborating with the communities and implementing sustainable solutions.

As a guest, you actively make a difference. For every night you stay at one of their properties, a 10 USD donation goes toward the following projects.

Khwai Pre School

At first, the Khwai village did not have a pre-school. As a result, ABC partnered with Khwai Private Reserve and Naletsana Foundation to establish the Khwai Pre School to address low school attendance and poor education infrastructure. Together, they built additional ablution blocks, fixed the flooring, and furnished the school.

Furthermore, a continuous feeding program ensures that the kids receive a proper meal on school days, enhancing their concentration and academic performance. ABC aims to continue supporting the feeding programme and improving the school's infrastructure on an ongoing basis.

La fondation African Bush Camps est impliquée dans les communautés locales

The African Bush Camps Foundation is uplifting numerous communities in Botswana, Image Credit: African Bush Camps

Kachikau Primary School Disability Unit

This school supports villages in Chobe by providing schooling, accommodation, and daily meals to students with disabilities. ABC invested in the school's infrastructure by building wheelchair ramps and paving walkways. This allowed for improved accessibility, health and safety, and an inclusive learning environment. 

The ultimate goal is to empower and equip students to graduate and further their education. Therefore, the next phase will include renovating the school hostel and providing additional development support.

Female Guides Program

ABC's Founder and CEO, Beks Ndlovu, started his career in the tourism industry as a guide, so he has a passion for the profession.

With over 90% of guides being men and less than 5% of women receiving support and training to pursue a career as a safari guide, ABC decided to address this gender inequality.

They aim to develop 25 female guides by 2025 through training and practical experience. Their two-year Female Guides Program includes theory, practical and mokoro training at African Guiding Academy. This gives them the skills to start as trainee guides at African Bush Camps. The program provides a foundation for females to become experts in the field (no pun intended).

A project aim to empower females in Botswana

The project aims to empower female guides in Botswana, Image Credit: African Bush Camps

Vuche Vuche Basket Weaving Project

This project employs women in local communities while simultaneously showcasing Botswana's heritage and culture. The beautiful weaved baskets are sold at African Bush Camps trading posts. And as a guest, you can also visit Vuche Vuche to learn how to weave baskets and experience Botswana's rich heritage.

2. Natural Selection

You make a tangible difference in the surrounding communities by staying at a Natural Selection property, with 1.5% of your stay supporting regional conservation and community outreach initiatives. Furthermore, you contribute an additional Conservation, Community and Reserve Fee that funds the protection of wildlife, habitat, supporting communities, and managing reserves and concessions.

Botswana has benefited from 61 conservation and community initiatives since 2016, including but not limited to the following:

  • The Elephant Express provides safe transportation for school children and clinic patients in the Okavango Delta
  • Supporting Grass Harvesters in Khwai with safe accommodation, food, and transport during the harvest season
  • Maintaining mammal migrations in Botswana through informed land use planning
  • Replacing and repairing solar water pumps to support migrating mammals in the Makgadikgadi National Park
  • Protecting wildlife in Khwai Private Nature Reserve by equipping rangers with binoculars, handheld radios, motorbikes, and cameras
A red lechwe mid-jump in the Okavango Delta

The Okavango Delta has a rich variety of wildlife, Image Credit: Sable Alley

3. Wilderness Destinations

Wilderness Destinations' ultimate mission is to double the land they conserve today (6 million acres, or 2.3 million hectares) within the next decade by educating, empowering, and protecting.

Partnerships with Community-Based Tourism

In many rural communities, informal mining and subsistence farming degrades natural environments and, as a result, threatens wildlife. Wilderness Destinations has been partnering with communities and governments for four decades to foster relationships to operate its tourism camps in wildlife habitats.

As it stands, 46% of the land Wilderness Destinations is protecting belongs to community trusts. In effect, the communities are the landlords in which Wilderness Destinations operates. The partnership agreements benefit communities by means of revenue sharing.

Comfortable seating area

Botswana is one of Africa's most unique locations with heartwarming hospitality, Image Credit: Wilderness Little Mombo

Operating Luxury Lodges Sustainably

Wilderness Destinations created an internal set of stringent standards, Group Environmental Minimum Standards (GEMS), to proactively mitigate negative impacts on the natural environment while maximising positive impacts.

The GEMS is based on industry standards and 40 years of experience to guide current and future operations. To help protect the environment, every Wilderness Destinations camp is audited twice a year and has to comply with 85% of the requirements set in GEMS. So far, GEMS has been implemented in six out of seven countries where they operate, while most operate above GEMS standards.

Human-Lion Co-existence

Wilderness Destinations partners with CLAWS Conservancy (Communities Living Among Wildlife Sustainably) to protect lions and empower small cattle owners in the Okavango Delta.

Lions were being fatally poisoned in retaliation for the number of cattle they killed in rural communities. To address the issue, Wildness Destinations and CLAWS are limiting human interaction with lions, incentivising people to tolerate lions, and stimulating a conservation economy.

Game drives in the Okavango Delta

Game drives in the Okavango Delta are always eventful, Image Credit: Wilderness Abu Camp

4. &Beyond

In everything they do, &Beyond’s biggest goal is to leave the world in a better place than we found it by focussing on caring for the land, people, and wildlife.

Care for The land

By partnering with New Southern Energy (NSE), &Beyond reduced its carbon footprint by introducing hybrid solar power plants at its generator-based lodges in Botswana. At its Xaranna Okavango Delta Camp, for example, it reduced generator run time by 19 hours per day and the camp's carbon footprint by 4,500,000kg per year. This was achieved by having a micro-grid controller that directs required power to the lodge while redirecting excess energy to a Tesla storage bank.

&Beyond endeavours to reduce all waste in Botswana. They saved 16 tons of single-user cardboard by collaborating with MackAir, using cool freight to transport perishables to the camps in the Okavango Delta. By reducing the need for cardboard packing, they also reduced the need for water removal trucks in this precious landscape.

&Beyond partners with MackAir to reduce waste in Botswana, Image Credit: &Beyond

Care of The People

One way &Beyond cares for the people is by benefitting them economically, investing in their education, and providing fresh water:

  • In 2020, 89% of lodge operation expenses were sourced from local businesses by, for example, buying fresh fruit and vegetables from them, and in turn increasing the small businesses' income
  • The village of Sexana now has a school with two classrooms, an ablution block, a kitchen and a dining hall
  • Borehole projects provide stable water sources for remote communities in the Okavango Delta to overcome muddy water challenges during the dry season

Care for The Wildlife

In a grand effort to protect rhinos from being poached, six wild rhinos from &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve in South Africa were translocated to the Okavango Delta in 2013. The goal was to create new sources for the declining population. 

Fast-forward to the following year, when Rhinos Without Borders was established. The project is an aligned collaboration between &Beyond and Great Plains Conservation to ensure the survival of this beautiful species. By the end of 2019, 87 rhinos had been successfully relocated to safer havens.

A group of African wild dogs captured by a hidden camera

The African wild dog is one of the world's most endangered mammals

Leave Your Lasting Legacy in Africa

Since its inception 20 years ago, Rhino Africa has been committed to leaving a lasting legacy in Africa. While we support our own social responsibility projects, we're proud to partner with esteemed industry stakeholders to uplift communities across Africa. Just by travelling with us, you are automatically supporting these communities.

Explore Botswana in all her splendour. From marvelling at the gigantic elephant herds in Chobe and gliding on a mokoro through the Okavango Delta's watery veins, let's plan your dream luxury safari in Botswana today.

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About the author 

Hanli Matthee

After her studies, Hanli decided to call Cape Town home and enjoys that every corner is Instagram-worthy, combining mountains, ocean and city. When she's not living it up in Cape Town's nature, she likes escaping to Central Drakensberg, where she's been going for her family vacations for over 20 years now. It's her happy place, where she feels enveloped by valleys and high-rising giants and secretly hopes she'd get lost here where no one will find her...

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