Profiles | KRC Botswana
 
 

Keitumetse Ngaka’s History and Research

I was born on the 2nd of August 1986. I am a last born of Mr Kebolatole Ngaka and Mrs Kelatlhegile Ngaka whom their life is highly dependent on agriculture in Seleka village (located in Tswapong region). The family has six members; two parents and four sons:- Ngaka K. Ngaka (first born), Tebogo K. Ngaka and Boitumelo V. Ngaka. All of the members grew up and schooled in Seleka village for their primary and Junior school education levels. I completed my Senior Secondary school education at Moeng College (Tswapong region) in 2004. I was then admitted for Bachelor of Science Degree majoring in Environmental Science at the University of Botswana (UB) in 2005 to 2009. I grew up loving and caring for people together with their environment (nature). This can be proved by being an active member of different clubs such as; Developmental Studies club at Moeng College, and Environmental Conservation Society club at UB, and currently SAVE. I was in an internship in the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) in Gaborone after completion of my study where I was enrolled for six months. In 2010 I joined the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) organisation which changed its name to Kalahari Research and Conservation (KRC) this year, 2013 (See members in Fig 1). However the objectives of the organisation still stands. KRC focuses on conducting wildlife-related researches in different regions with the aim of helping relevant organizations to enforce meaningful measures to utilise natural resources wisely for the current and future generations’ benefit, hence their sustainability. Also the organisation focuses on improving knowledge about the environment at large to the people starting from grassroots level such as primary school children.

 

Figure 1: members of KRC composed of Administrative staff, Researchers, Research Assistants

Responsibilities at KRC
 

As mentioned earlier, I joined the KRC in 2010 as a Research Assistant for different projects. The following activities were undertaken; collaring of animals, downloading data from collars, spoor-count surveys, prey transects, grass sampling, scat-sample collection. The above were done with the aim to get exposed to the world of research so that I can later start my own project. After grasping the necessary skills I then registered with UB (Okavango Research Institute (ORI)) to start my M/Phil in Natural Resource Management. The study focuses on comparing Human-Lion Conflict (HLC) level before and after fence-erection, and Boteti river-flow located in the west of Makgadikgadi Pans National Park (MPNP). The following are the project’s objectives;
 

  • To assess changes in human-lion conflict levels before and after fence-erection and river-flow

  • To compare lion, and prey abundance, and distribution for before, and after fence-erection and river-flow.

  • To compare lion spatio-temporal coverage before, and after fence-erection and river-flow.

The conflict-fence was erected in 2004-2005 and the river started flowing in 2009. Therefore the project has got three periods; Before period (before fence-erection and river-flow), Fence period (after conflict fence-erection but river not flowing), and River period (after river-flow but the fence having some openings).

Figure 2: The project study area

The project involved activities such as; interviewing Boteti farmers (Fig 2) about how they perceive the conflict level during the three periods stated, collaring lions and downloading their location data, conducting spoor-counts, call-in station surveys, prey-transects, collecting secondary data from other departments and people (Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Department of Veterinary Services, Dr. G. Hemson). See Fig 3a – d for demonstrating activities involved in data collection. The project is now at the advanced stage of write-up which is expected to be complete in April 2014.

Figure 3a: Openings on the conflict fence during the River-period which gives both livestock and wildlife to have direct contact

Figure 3b: Cow being trapped by broken fence

Figure 3c: Locations where the conflict fence has openings.

Figure 3d: Collaring one of the study lions for location data collection. Data was very useful for calculating homerange sizes and lions’ distance from the cattleposts.

Figure 3e: How spoor-count survey was performed. Trackers in front of the vehicle to spot animal tracks easily.

Figure 3f: Call-in station surveys conducted to find lion and other predators abundance.

Project Supporters

 

  • Office of Research and Development

  • University of Botswana

  • Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN)

  • Wilderness Wildlife Trust (WWT)

  • IdeaWild

  • Denver Zoo

  • Comanis Foundation

  • SAVE Wildlife Conservation Fund

  • KANABO Conservation Link

  • Amarula Foundation

 

Moses Selebatso's History and Research

Moses Selebatso is a PhD Student in Natural Resources Management with the University of Botswana (Okavango Research Institute). He holds a Master of Science Degree in Tropical Ecology and Natural Resources Management from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. Moses has more than 15 years of experience in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation in Botswana.


Moses is Motswana born in Serowe, 11th August, 1973. He grew up in Seolwane village in the eastern Botswana, known as Tswapong region, where his family originates. He is the only son of Theko and Berlinah Selebatso, and has 4 sisters. Moses got married to Eda (of Gaobinelwe family) from Serowe in 2007, on the 10th August, a day before his birthday! Eda is a Project Manager at the Ministry of Health. Eda and Moses are blessed with 3 children, Moses Setso (son), Betsi (daughter) and Moatsisi (Son), aged 5, 3 and 3 weeks, respectively.


Moses started his career with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Ecology at the University of Botswana in 1998. He developed his interest in Ecology when he was undertaking his pre-entry science course at the University of Botswana in 1994. Moses’ first permanent job was with the Government of Botswana’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) as a Wildlife Biologist for 8 years. He did his Master of Science in 2004-2006. While at DWNP Moses was involved in a number of research projects including Aerial surveys, road and spoor counts, monitoring, and movement studies of large ungulates in the Kalahari ecosystem. Moses joined Conservation International in 2007 to 2010 as a Biodiversity Manager for the Western Kgalagadi Conservation Corridor (WKCC) Project. In the WKCC Moses was coordinating the Biodiversity component of the project which included Human Wildlife Conflict studies, Resource inventory and spoor surveys using experienced Basarwa (san) and Bakgalagadi trackers, satellite tracking of wildebeest, and the assessment of ecological corridor option and viability and informed the Tourism and Corridor Development and Management Planning process.


Moses joined the Kalahari Research and Conservation in 2011 as a PhD student studying wildebeest in the Central Kalahari and Kutse Game Reserve. He had two reasons for undertaking this project as a PhD student. He wanted to develop his skills and he wanted to contribute to saving the Kalahari ecosystem. Moses believes that Botswana’s present and future economy is dependent on natural resources, and that wildlife-based tourism will be the main driver of this economy. Botswana needs local human resource capacity to take part in the development of management of these resources. With his experience in the Kalahari region, and his previous involvement in the monitoring and tracking of the Kalahari ungulates, most was the most suited candidate to undertake the wildebeest focused study. Through this study Moses is trying to assess the viability of the CKGR as an independent habitat for conservation of the wildebeest population, considering the reserve as an isolated remnant of the historical large habitat for the population. Moses envisions that after his PhD he will be better positioned to provide educated contributions to natural resources management of the country, and particularly inform ecosystem oriented approach to addressing the declining Kalahari wildlife populations.


Climatic patterns in the semi-arid regions of sub Saharan Africa are very unpredictable and periods of drought can cause very dramatic effects on wildlife populations, especially on water-dependent species. The survival of the populations in the system depends on their mobility on habitat heterogeneity in response to the seasonal and climatic changes. The Blue wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus) in Botswana were recorded to make long distance movement between the Kalahari Transfrontier Park (KTP) and the Boteti through the CKGR, Lake Ngami and Lake Xau during drought periods. Access to the Boteti River, Lake Xau and Lake Ngami was removed from the southern part of the system by the veterinary cordon fence along the north and north-eastern boundary of the CKGR. There has also been habitat loss between the CKGR and the KTP through human and livestock encroachment, and landuse changes. The general decline in wildlife populations in the Kalahari is associated with the trends in land-use and habitat changes. The wildebeest is one the most affected species, understandably because they are one of the most mobile and water-dependent ungulates in the region, but yet have restricted movements.


In an attempt to address the effects of habitat loss and fragmentation, the CKGR management introduced artificial waterholes in the reserve. Wildlife surveys show that the wildebeest population continues to decline and they are estimated to be less a thousand in 2012.

The available information, however, does not explain the actual causes of the population decline, but it has been suggested that the main cause could be loss of access to key habitats (water and forage) and fragmentation associated with fences, and livestock and human population increase and over-exploitation.

Spatial and temporal variability of both biological and physical characteristics of the environment play a significant role in the timing and directions of selecting a suitable habitat, and effectively affect the fitness of an individual and eventually survival of the population. Water quality has been reported to affect the health of wildlife populations and so compromise the survival of populations. Understanding the relationship between the wildebeest population and the heterogeneity and variability of the CKGR environment is critical in determining the viability of the system and development of management interventions for sound species conservation. This study will investigate the factors that influence the decline of the wildebeest population to inform the development of management interventions towards the survival of the CKGR wildebeest population.


The study is guided by the objectives:

  1. Determine the demographic patterns of the CKGR wildebeest population

  2. Determine the movement patterns of  the CKGR wildebeest population

  3. Determine habitat selection and use of the CKGR wildebeest population

  4. Determine dietary selection of the CKGR wildebeest population

  5. Determine the influence of water availability and quality of the CKGR wildebeest population

 


The study started in 2011 and it has deployed a total number of 18 satellite collars on wildebeest.  The project is experiencing a high mortality of the wildebeest. Only four of the collared wildebeests survived for a year with a collar, and just 2 of them made it to 14 months! To date 8 wildebeests are confirmed dead (with possible additional one likely as the collar failed and the animal has never been sighted for the last 9 months), and two collar failures.  This leaves only 7 collars currently on animals, with just two of them collared before September last year. This represents 53% mortality rate of the study animals! The 2012 aerial survey report that estimated a loss of close to two thirds of the 2007 population leaving less than 1000 individuals. Looking at the long term trends of the population, and a closer look at the last five year, it is almost evident that the population may crash or struggle to recover unless focused and intensive management of the population is put in place. Currently the study identifies water availability as the main limiting factor to the survival of the species.


Data from the collared animals show that most of the wildebeest population and its movement is concentrating in the northern half of the CKGR. See map of all movement to date (and table at the end of the report).

CKGR-KGR Map with movement data for all the 18 animals collared in the last two years. Different collars show different collared herds

 

Most of the collared wildebeest spent much of the dry season around artificial waterholes, and there has been a strong selection for valleys and pans throughout the reporting period, with notable excursions to open woodland close to the pans during the dry season. Waterhole locations seem to be critical for the population. All but two herds has at least one borehole within their home ranges. In the last wet season (January, February and March), there has been little dependence on waterholes. For an example, one animal uses Sunday pan with a waterhole in the dry season and goes to the Leopard pan, 4km away, for the wet season. See map below.
 

Movement location showing high utilsation of pans (Sunday pan and Leopard pan)

The study is expected to be completed within the next three years.

Project Supporters

  • Wilderness Wildlife Trust (WWT)

  • Denver Zoo

  • KANABO Conservation Link

  • Comanis Foundation

  • SAVE Wildlife Conservation Fund

  • Office of Research and Development

  • University and Government of Botswana

  • Ministry of Environment Wildlife and Tourism and Ministry of Agriculture

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Kalahari Research and Conservation

 
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