In Botswana, Cultivating an Interest in Agriculture and Conservation

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The Mokolodi Reserve is another example of how agriculture and wildlife conservation can go hand-in hand. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

The Mokolodi Reserve is another example of how agriculture and wildlife conservation can go hand-in hand. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

Mokolodi Wildlife Reserve used to be known more for raising livestock than protecting wildlife. But after years of ranching degraded the land, the owner decided to devote the area to protecting elephants, giraffes, impala, kudu, crocodiles, hippos, ostrich, warthogs, and various other animals and birds. But the reserve hasn’t stopped raising food.

In addition to teaching students and the community about conserving and protecting wildlife and the environment, they’re also educating students about permaculture. By growing indigenous vegetables, recycling water for irrigation, and using organic fertilizers—including elephant dung—the Reserve’s Education Center is demonstrating how to grow nutritious food with very little water or chemical inputs. (See Malawi’s Real “Miracle” and Emphasizing Malawi’s Indigenous Vegetables as Crops.)

I met with Tuelo Lekgowe and his wife, Moho Sehtomo, who are managing the permaculture garden at Mokolodi. Tuelo explained that the organically grown spinach, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, green peppers, garlic, basil, parsley, coriander and other crops raised at the garden are used to feed the school groups who come regularly to learn about not only animals, but also sustainable agriculture. Tuelo and Moho use the garden as a classroom, teaching students about composting, intercropping, water harvesting, and organic agriculture practices. The garden also supplies food for the Education Center and Mokolodi’s restaurant, feeding the hundreds of students and tourists who visit the non-profit reserve each week.

The Mokolodi Reserve is another example of how agriculture and wildlife conservation can go hand-in hand.

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