MAUN, Botswana, August 2019 – Wild Bird Trust Botswana (WBTB) in partnership with Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) this past Saturday hosted the Nkashi Classic – an apt event which connected science, community and conservation.
The event hosted in the tourism town of Maun at Okavango River Lodge, Matlapaneng featured among many things conservation education, poetry, fire dancing display as well as the screening of “Into The Okavango” documentary.
The Nkashi Classic was launched for the first time last year 2018 as a celebration of the mokoro and the nkashi which is used to propel it.
Quite stirring was the overwhelming attendance by the locals, who came from all walks of the Ngamiland District life despite the dryness of the Thamalakane River, which last year gave life to the event. The organisers seemed well prepared and organized as each and every person knew what to do and how to do it.
According to the Trustee: Botswana Wild Bird Trust and National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project (NGOWP) Project Director, John Hilton, the Nkashi Classic was born out of many discussions around the campfires where their team of scientists, explorers and the BaYei guides who accompany them decided that the mekoro should be celebrated.
The event was conducted by the Botswana Wild Bird Trust, who, in partnership with the National Geographic Society, run the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project (NGOWP), supported by Botswana Tourism Organization (BTO).
The NGOWP is a 3-year project, launched in 2016, that seeks to explore and research the upper catchment of the Okavango River Basin to better understand how to protect the sources of the river, and thereby the system as a whole and the Okavango Delta in particular.
“In the past 3 years the NGOWP has conducted 9 expeditions in and around the Angolan sources of the Okavango River Basin, surveyed 6,000km of rivers using only traditional fiberglass mekoro. Polers from Botswana, Namibia, Angola and even Zambia have accompanied the team as river guides and all using one common water craft; the mekoro poled with an “nkashi” of one form or another,” said Hilton.
He added that the NGOWP has demonstrated the precious nature of the wilderness that is the source of the Okavango River, and through innovative science and research will be able to present its scientific findings to the Governments of Angola, Namibia and Botswana in order that the 3 governments are better informed with empirical scientific data related to the shared water resource that is the Okavango River. The project has discovered 24 new species to science and contributed to the expansion of species list and range extensions for Angola.
“The Nkashi Classic is therefore a celebration of the vital flood waters which flow unimpeded from the highlands of Angola, through Namibia and into the Okavango Delta where it becomes an oasis for wildlife like no other on the planet.”
Furthermore, Hilton noted that the Botswana Wild Bird Trust has joined forces with Botswana Tourism Organisation, Okavango River Lodge and numerous other local Maun organizations for the inaugural Nkashi Classic with the hope of seeing the event grow from strength to strength as an annual event on the Maun calendar.
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