Mokolodi Nature Reserve

Project LocationGaborone, Botswana
Project TypeWildlife and habitat conservation, Community conservation initiatives, Endangered species protection, Environmental education
Endangered SpeciesWhite Rhino (10), Giraffe, Mountain Reed Buck, Klipspringer, Cheetah (2), Rock Python (50-80), Pangolin, Aardvark, Lobatse Hinged Tortoise, Secretary Bird, Rock Daisy.
Land Area Protected45 km2
Local People Employed77
Schools Supported20
Project Websitewww.mokolodi.com

Mokolodi Nature Reserve

The Republic of Botswana, in the heart of Southern Africa, is home to some of the world’s remaining wild and unspoilt areas – the inland delta of the Okavango, the Kalahari Desert, the palm-studded Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, and the pristine bush areas of the north.

With independence and the discovery of diamonds in the sixties, the country saw rapid growth in terms of business, infrastructure and population. By the early nineties, some 80% of the population was living in the east of the country, with many children growing up never having seen an impala or understood the beauty and value of wild things – and these children, Botswana’s future administrators, politicians and captains of industry, would one day be charged with preserving the country’s priceless natural treasures, including its wildlife.

It was against this background the Mokolodi Wildlife Foundation was formed with the aim of promoting a love of nature in Botswana’s youth through environmental education. The Mokolodi Nature Reserve was created on 4,500ha of donated land near Gaborone on the premise that tourism would subsidise environmental education for the country’s youth and provide a living example of how wild birds and animals could pay their way in modern Botswana.

The Mokolodi Education Centre and Nature Reserve

Previously as a cattle ranch, the land employed only nine people. Now seventy people work at the reserve, the majority of which are residents of the neighbouring Mokolodi village. As a result of this intimate relationship with the village, the local community has a strong sense of ownership over the reserve. The reserve is home to indigenous species such as warthogs, steenbok, kudu and a variety of snakes. Several species have been re-introduced e.g. zebra, giraffe, eland, ostrich, and hippopotamus. The reserve holds over a third of Botswana’s white rhino and the scarce brown hyena and mountain reedbuck are also thriving there. With the financial and moral support of the local and international business community, the reserve has become a nationally recognised education and conservation facility.

More importantly, the Education Centre, with accommodation for forty boys and forty girls, now hosts over 12,000 Botswanan children each year from primary and secondary schools, for day visits or three-day stay-overs, where they learn to love and appreciate their environment in the ‘outdoor classroom’ of the reserve. A full in-service training programme has enabled the reserve to fulfill a secondary objective of empowering young environmental educators, so that “graduates” of Mokolodi are now to be found in many tourism and other establishments throughout Botswana. Students at the country’s teacher training colleges also visit Mokolodi for short courses with the expectation that, in due course, they will bring their classes to the Centre. Environmental studies is, at last, a prescribed component of the national curriculum.

Tusk Support

Tusk Trust has been a long-term supporter of Mokolodi since the nineties, providing a vehicle for use by the rangers around the reserve; emergency funding to repair flood damage in the reserve; as well as funding the refurbishment of the dormitory accommodation and equipment for the school rooms.

Recently, Tusk has funded Mokolodi’s annual Boitumelo Mo Nageng (Joy in the Bush) camps for AIDS orphans and street children. After five days at Mokolodi, having fun and interacting with the animals, each of the four hundred children leave Mokolodi invigorated and better able to face the challenges of a difficult life. Tusk contributions have also provided the main source of funding to the Mokolodi OVC programme, a campaign against HIV/AIDS targeting disadvantaged youth and street children. In addition, the charity has been able to fund a new twenty five-seater vehicle for the children.

Notes from the field
Through various team-building activities and fun games, the educators at Mokolodi and their counterparts from other counseling organizations offer children the opportunity to increase their self-awareness and personal growth. These stimulating games and activities, such as nature walks, are designed to empower the children and inspire them to become strong and productive citizens of Botswana. In each child we foster a greater appreciation of their unique potential.

The programme provides a unique opportunity to instill in the children an understanding that every person has a role to play in this world and an appreciation that there is a connective relationship between all living things. And, of course, what we really encourage and ensure is that the children have fun!
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