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On March 21, 1960, South African police opened fire on a largely Black crowd of protesters, killed 69 in what came to be called the Sharpeville massacre. The crowd was protesting South Africa’s pass laws, which required Black South Africans to carry internal passports when in “white” areas,…

Sad day, important to remember …

A photo I took in Etosha National Park, Namibia. Zebra Crossing?! 

A photo I took in Etosha National Park, Namibia. Zebra Crossing?! 

There’s a feeling you get here in Africa that you can’t find anywhere else in the world. It’s often described by the great explorers as a sense of coming home, but for me, it’s much more a feeling of coming close to one’s roots.
Ray Mears
Waiting for a ride to the border. So close, yet so far!

Waiting for a ride to the border. So close, yet so far!

Christmas Travels

I thought I’d give a quick personal update on the 2 weeks I had off over Christmas/New years.

Myself and Elliot, a good mate, fellow project/tour leader and proud Kiwi, flew to Maun in Botswana. Many delays but made it there eventually.

Went on a Mokoro (traditional canoe) trip overnight on the Okavango Delta, viewing game and camping out in the middle of nowhere, right by the delta. Waking up Christmas morning in the bush was pretty awesome!

Hitch hiked from Maun to the border of Namibia. A very eventful and long day/night. Including many hours in the crazy heat, sitting on the side of the road. Potentially having to camp the night in lion territory. Finally getting a lift with a local couple, blasting love power ballads the whole way and a blown-out tyre when travelling at 120km/h. Making it to the border post of Botswana/Namibia, crossing through and then starting the hitching process again.

Met a young South African couple who eventually agreed to give us a lift, in spite of his dislike for Australians (kiwis are fine though apparently!). Ended up going all the way to Swakopmund, fed us, watered us (including beers for Elliot!) and were generally awesome.

Many, many kilometres covered and too much money spent hiring a 4x4 hilux: We covered Swakopmund, Etosha, Sossusvlei, Windhoek, and everywhere in-between. Namibia is definitely a place of many faces. Constantly changing from sandy desert to mountainous bush and then big city… All of which can occur within 100km!

Epic Red Bull party on the beach just after Christmas. And in bed before 12 on NYE… Getting too old for that all-night party business!

Managed to score a flight back to Johannesburg from Windhoek cheaper than a bus. That’s 2hrs flying compared to 20+ hours driving! Score.

Too many kilometres, never enough money and too much heat…. But many a good time and many awesome people met!

The end.

ISV group 2! Masebe Nature Reserve.

ISV group 2! Masebe Nature Reserve.

Time for an Update!

So, it’s been a month since the last update. Possibly longer! However a lot has occurred, with a majority of it happening in areas with little or no Internet connectivity.

My second ISV project of this season begun on the 10th December, located approximately 5 hours Drive north of Johannesburg in the Waterberg region of South Africa.

This area is part of a UNESCO biosphere reserve site, which is basically a programme to promote sustainable development based on local community efforts and sound science. Thus, these areas are ideal sites to test new and different approaches to sustainable development, incorporating the environment, local communities and local economy. The site remains under sovereign jurisdictions, but shares ideas, results and progress nationally and internationally.
Being a UNESCO biosphere generally means that it is a site of excellence, using optimal and effective management strategies, sustainable practices etc.

The project the volunteers were involved with was at Masebe Nature Reserve; a run down and neglected (yet amazing!) nature reserve, which happens to fall into this biosphere region. An amazingly beautiful area, rich with biodiversity, yet due to poor management practices no longer attracts anyone to the park and has now been closed to the general public.

My volunteers were involved in performing large habitat assessments over various areas of the park, as well as regular bird-point counts in order to collect data necessary to develop a new management strategy and in the long term; get this reserve up and running.

As well as the conservation work, we also worked with both adults and children of the local and surrounding villages, holding environmental education workshops and finding out how they’d like to see Masebe Nature Reserve managed. This local feedback is of vital importance to the success of such a project. Educating children and adults alike about the importance of the environment is such a huge necessity in these areas, where it is often overlooked or unknown. Ensuring that Masebe is running effectively is not only a huge boost for the environment, but also has the added bonus of job creation for members of the local communities.

A fantastic project that I thoroughly enjoyed. A great crew of volunteers, an exceptionally knowledgeably host organisation and a very educational experience for myself. Looking forward to my final project there later in the month!

Myself and the first ISV crew of the season! Great achievements on our project!

Myself and the first ISV crew of the season! Great achievements on our project!

Great White I encountered in Shark Alley, South Africa! Such a bad-ass!!

Great White I encountered in Shark Alley, South Africa! Such a bad-ass!!