Dawson Ramsden appointed Okavango Wilderness Safaris Chief of Staff

Dawson Ramsden - Okavango Wilderness Safaris Chief of Staff

13 September 2022 – Okavango Wilderness Safaris is pleased to share the news that Dawson Kgosi Ramsden has been appointed to the role of Chief of Staff, adding to the growing depth of local talent in the business’ senior cadre. 

Dawson returns home to the Wilderness team 21 years after he first engaged with the company at Jao and Jacana camps. Known to many as a larger-than-life personality, he has a deep love for his homeland Botswana, the people and the incredible wilderness areas the country is blessed with. Dawson takes on this strategic role, bringing with him a wealth of conservation tourism and marketing experience extending to global markets, with over 11 years of experience at Botswana Tourism (BTO) and a keen appreciation for the intricacies of Botswana’s tourism offering. 

Key to Dawson’s new role at Okavango Wilderness Safaris is working to support the internal stakeholder audience of the business – collectively, some 800 employees working in Maun, and those in the business’ 22 operational camps – as well as supporting business operations more widely. As part of Wilderness’ senior team, this includes such responsibilities as government liaison, local PR and media, and acting as a strategic advisor to the Managing Director and the Board of Directors. 

“We are delighted to appoint Dawson to this role, and indeed, to welcome him back to the Wilderness family. We are not only confident about his experience and expertise in the conservation tourism space, but excited at the level of passion and authority he brings to the role. Dawson grew up in a family committed to conservation tourism, spending much of his professional life working to ensure his own positive footprint in this space. At Okavango Wilderness Safaris, we value that our people – colleagues and staff from the communities we are proud to call home – are at the heart and soul of our business. Dawson thus steps into tremendous shoes to oversee critical functions in this regard, helping bolster the business’ ability to wield even greater positive impact within the industry, communities and our country, and to harmonise all that we do into a single, poetic and purposeful rhythm”, noted Okavango Wilderness Safaris MD, Kim Nixon.

Dawson’s upbringing was rooted in conservation tourism. His grandfather, Jack F. Ramsden, was involved in conceptualising and eventually establishing the Moremi Game Reserve, and both his grandfather and father became game wardens in the conservancy. From a young age, Dawson knew that he too wanted to make his own contribution to the industry. 

Born and raised in Sefhare, Dawson undertook his post-high school national service in Dutlwe, as a senior Tirelo Sechaba Participant Officer for Botswana’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks. He was assigned to anti-poaching units, animal control and game licensing, and thus has considerable experience in the conservation space.  After his national service, Dawson joined the hospitality industry, with roles in both traditional and mobile safari businesses. He was introduced to Wilderness in 2001 when he completed practical work at Jao. That same year, Dawson was among the mentors and guides of the maiden Bana Ba Naga – Children in the Wilderness – programme, initiated at Jacana.  He later took on roles at Chitabe and subsequently Chitabe Lediba as General Manager and Head Guide in 2005. Six years on, he joined Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) as a marketing executive in charge of all international marketing activities. He spent 11 years in this role, overseeing all marketing and selling Botswana as an ecotourism destination. During his time he travelled extensively across the globe to promote Botswana tourism, marketing to international trade, consumers and media, to expand their knowledge and entice them to Botswana.

“I have now come full circle, and believe that I can use the experience I have gained to positively impact the company, and help achieve its goals, as well as grow and develop the human assets. This will make a real difference to the wilderness and communities that we help protect”, said Dawson.

Dawson holds a professional guiding licence, and a rifle proficiency and walking certificate, as well as a Level 1 FGASA guiding qualification. He also holds a Hospitality Management qualification from the Walter Sisulu University of Technology, and a degree in Tourism Development and Management from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

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