‘Voice for Guides’ unite to preserve Chobe National Park
A determined group of Safari Tour Guides have joined together in an effort to preserve the Chobe National Park and ensure it remains undisturbed by the increasing volumes of visitors to the area.
Named ‘Voice for Guides’, a strong team of 20 guides has been working in conjunction with the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) in a self-sponsored project aimed at safeguarding one of Botswana’s first and most biologically diverse parks.
Founding leader, Baitshepi Kamwi told The Voice that the group gives guides a unified voice that can be used to address all the challenges, grievances, and concerns they have.
He explained that they realised something had to be done after two abandoned lion cubs discovered by guides mysteriously disappeared.
“Upon discovery of the orphaned cubs, the matter was reported to DWNP authorities. The last time we heard about the cubs they were taken for ‘research’. To this day none of the guides in Chobe know the whereabouts of the two cubs,” growled Kamwi.
It was from this occurrence, as well as other concerns associated with the national park, that tour guides decided on making regular trips into the park to start monitoring and assessing its general state as well as finding ways to address other issues that could hinder their work in the park.
Some of the activities undertaken include: litter picking, clearing roadways, fixing signage, as well as cleaning and clearing boreholes.
This past weekend, ‘Voice for Guides’ went on another inspection tour of the park with assistance from Wildlife authorities, who provided transport, accommodation and cooking utensils.
The group visited the northern part of the park, being Savuti and Phoha.
“In these trips we picked that some roads need clearing, signage is worn out and no longer visible, which is a nightmare particularly for self-drive tourists,” disclosed Kamwi, adding there was also evidence rhinos from Moremi Game Reserve have visited the northern part of the park (Phoha area).
The experienced guide pointed out that this area is not as popular with tourists, which potentially makes it a target for poachers.
“We proposed a campsite in that area so that people can access it, which might also reduce the intrusion by poachers,” he said.
Also concerned with the many off-road tracks left by self drive tourists, the guides proceeded to close off several roads created by unruly tourists.
Kamwi said while the Wildlife authorities have been supportive and even availed resources, they still have some challenges.
“I intend to invite more guides to this group. But for us to realise our dream we need assistance with protective equipment, meals for trips which usually last seven days,” he urged.
Kamwi told The Voice they also need material to replace the worn out signage in the park.
“A game viewer vehicle is also more ideal for these trips instead of a truck,” he added.