Wildtrax is focused on developing an integrative study abroad and field training course where students play an integral role in the success of these research initiatives. The diverse courses, research and experiential learning opportunities for students provide the foundation for understanding the dynamic interface among sociology, ecology and wildlife management. Scientific principles and human dimensions are used to develop strategies and techniques for managing natural and cultural resources. Experiencing the socio-political and ecological variables in Botswana will help students gain an understanding of how culture and ecology are vital aspects to developing successful conservation efforts. Students play an active role in the research from project design, to data collection and implementation and will gain valuable skills and knowledge to equip them for their future. Our comprehensive program ensures that today’s students are prepared to deliver a better tomorrow for people and wildlife!
The overall objectives are to equip students and interns with adequate knowledge of various wildlife management and conservation issues in Africa and to attain proficiency in field research methodologies. An emphasis will be placed on understanding the patterns and underlying processes of the human-wildlife interface and biodiversity of the Okavango Delta. Through field-based, experiential learning opportunities in the Okavango Delta & Kalahari Basin Ecosystems, the aim of the course is to train future conservationists in understanding and applying research in the field.
Make your text books come alive as you traverse via boat and safari vehicle in the Okavango Delta World Heritage Site, one of the most iconic wilderness areas on the planet rich with wildlife. Along the way you will be encountering elephant, lion, buffalo, hippo, crocodile and more while camping along the edges of the Delta. By seeing and experiencing these areas from different views, you will gain a different perspective of the wildlife and flora of the system. From here, you will follow the waters as they flood down the Boteti river and disappear into the famous Kalahari basin. You will see how this precious resource provides life during the dry season, before making your way to the wet season wildlife ranges of the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park. Here you will explore one of the largest salt pans in the world. You will have numerous learning engagements en route to understand this dynamic system and hands-on experiences throughout to help you learn several field research methods for monitoring biodiversity and implementing mitigation strategies for Human-Wildlife Coexistence.
Throughout the 3-week course, you will be gaining valuable field experience while meeting and learning from many different researchers, NGOs, and wildlife managers. The course will equip you with the ability to apply appropriate research techniques to field studies. Overviews of wildlife ecology, behavior, conservation and research theory are included throughout the course, coordinated by Wildtrax Explorations. The course includes both scientific and social aspects to data collection, to prepare you for your interactions with wildlife, communities and different cultures. You will have a workbook to guide your learning while also have training sessions on many different research and monitoring methodologies so you fully understand their application.
These diverse experiences provide the foundation concerning the interface of ecology and wildlife management. Scientific principles and human dimensions are used to explain current strategies and techniques for managing natural and cultural resources. Our curriculum focuses on how changes in land use and resource availability in Botswana’s ecosystems can be managed to assist local communities while conserving biodiversity. Experiencing the socio-political and ecological variables in Botswana will give you an understanding of how culture and ecology interact to aid successful conservation efforts. This comprehensive program is designed to ensure that today’s students are prepared to deliver a better tomorrow.
DAY 1: Arrive into Maun, Botswana, the gateway to the Okavango Delta!
DAY 2: Full day cultural submersion in Maun with Bonty of Tharientsho Storytellers. The aim of the cultural induction program is to improve understanding of African and specifically Batswana culture. This understanding will highlight how learning local culture can help researchers and conservationists to maintain and improve rapport during field work and reduce cultural misunderstandings/distrust or miscommunication.
DAY 3 – 10: Journey around the edges of the Okavango Delta’s unspoiled wilderness in the Khwai Community’s Wildlife Management Area and Moremi National Park via
safari vehicle. Here you will be living amongst the highest population of elephants in the world! You will be learning about animal behavior, ecology, camera trapping surveys, herbivore and predator transect surveys, and ecosystem function. Meet with villagers to learn about community natural resource management strategies and develop your understanding of the human-wildlife interface
DAY 11: Embark on a Okavango Delta adventure via boat, traversing sections of the Delta. During this time, students will be learning how to use dragonfly as bioindicators
DAY 12 - 13: Travel out of the bush to refresh and restock in Maun and learn from some of the top researchers and scientists in the area through interactive seminars and discussions.
DAY 14 – 16: You will then follow the Delta’s floodwaters down the Boteti River, where it disappears into the Kalahari sands. This is an area where humans and wildlife coexist and compete for resources, causing many issues with elephant crop raiding and livestock depredation from predators. Students with have the opportunity to learn from two great experts in the field, Elephants for Africa focusing on the human-elephant interface and mitigation strategies and Oxford University’s WildCRU focusing on the human-lion interface, initiating a Lion Guardian program.
DAY 17 – 20: Change of scenery from the dry season resource of the lush Delta waters to the wet season resources of the Makgadikgadi Pans, one of the largest salt-pan systems in the world. Although you will be visiting the pans during the dry season, you will gain an appreciation for the vital role it plays in the functional ecosystem on northern Botswana. Here you will learn about the migratory routes, corridor systems and the effects of fences throughout Botswana….and lets not forget the day with Meerkats!
DAY 21: Depart from Maun...or carry on your adventures through Africa!
FIELD RESEARCH METHODOLOGIES TRAINING
Research methodologies are focused on those which are applicable to the conservation priorities identified by Botswana’s Dept. of Wildlife & National Parks, which include Biodiversity monitoring and Human-Wildlife Coexistence. Students will have the opportunity to interact with, learn from and develop relationships with different wildlife conservation organizations and specialists focused in these fields. Organizations will include, but not be limited to, the Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Botswana’s Predator Conservation Trust, Elephants for Africa, National Geographic’s Into-the-Okavango research team, and Wildlife ACT.
Students will learn about long-term monitoring projects, from understanding the design to data collection and reporting. Students will practice different methods of data collection, analysis and understand the application of collected data.
PRACTICAL SKILLS COMPONENT
We expect you to learn, understand and practice each of these survey methodologies to acquire these skills:
Wildtrax Explorations, Wildlife ACT and specialized researchers will provide lectures on a spectrum of wildlife conservation topics, including the human-wildlife interface.
The seminars & discussions offered will include:•An introduction to Botswana & conservation in Africa
Where will you be during your time in Botswana?
On arrival into Maun, Botswana, student’s will stay at a gated campsite in twin dome tents. There are male and female communal bathrooms with basins, showers and toilets. Hot water is provided via solar geysers. Communal laundry facilities are available to students with detergent for washing clothes provided. WiFi and electricity provided.
MOBILE SAFARI CAMP
Student’s stay in a luxury mobile safari camp throughout the itinerary locations. A mobile camp is a camp that is set up from nothing and leaves nothing in its path once you move on to the next location. Accommodation is provided in tents, together with bedrolls, sheets and a pillow. Students are requested to bring their own sleeping bags. Toilets are open air long drop toilets, while shower amenities include a bucket shower under the trees. Warm water is provided by heating water over a fire in camp. Three meals are provided each day together with drinking water. Additional beverages will need to be purchased on arrival in Maun. This type of safari is a participation safari, with students assisting in setting up their own tents, assisting with the cooking of meals and other general interaction on the mobile safari.
Sites where the mobile camp will be set up are in general not fenced and students are expected to have many animal visitors during their stay! Your guide however, will be sure to provide you with the safety information that you need. The fire is burning every night under the magnificent African skies full of bright stars, the Milky Way, and listening to the sounds of the bush
*Locations of the field sites and amenities might change depending on the location of research
This covers all your accommodation, food and transport between projects, TransOkavango boat trip, as well as park entry fees for any activities or fieldwork . *Please note when in town that we accommodate our students at the local backpackers where they will be camping.
All travel & flight costs to Maun or Kasane, Botswana, are for students to cover. Students should expect to have 1 night every 2 weeks in town. Luxury or unusual food items, including soda drinks, alcohol, sweets and chocolate are for your own account.
Through following our vision at Wildtrax, we have teamed up with the only wildlife monitoring organization in Africa, Wildlife Africa Conservation Team (Wildlife ACT), to provide students access to sustainable research and monitoring projects. Their mission is to save our planets’ endangered and threatened wildlife and wildlands from extinction and Wildtrax wants to create opportunities for students to be part of this mission. Both entities identify science and education as key components to the sustainable utilization and management of wildlife resources; thus, pur collaboration achieves a comprehensive study abroad program in the Okavango Delta of Botswana.
STUDY ABROAD FAST FACTS
Date: July 21 - Aug 10, 2019
Duration: 3 weeks
University Credit: 4 (depending on the students University)
Location: Okavango Delta, Botswana
All-inclusive course Fees: $5,145