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MOKOLODI NATURE RESERVE EMERGES FROM COVID-19 WITH NEW VIGOUR

The Christmas meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Mokolodi Wildlife Foundation (Mokolodi) was held at the World’s View Conference Centre on Sunday 4th December 2022 and was attended by the Mokolodi Patron, H.E. Dr Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi.   Members heard positive reports from the Management of the Mokolodi Nature Reserve, and from the Foundation’s Executive Committee, on progress made in the past half-year. Good rains have fallen and the Park wildlife, including its precious rhino herd are in good shape.

More importantly, after two years of great difficulty due to the COVID 19 pandemic, when most staff had to be furloughed or laid off, the public could not visit, school children were unable to enjoy Mokolodi’s renowned Environmental Education Centre, and severe losses were experienced, there has been a marked improvement in the Foundation’s financial performance.

Over the past seven months public support for the Mokolodi Bush Kitchen, for the Education Centre, and for game-drives and bush-braais has picked up, and the Foundation has been able to meet its operating expenses with a small surplus, to begin its recovery from the COVID lockdowns.   Many staff members are back at work, the mood is positive, and support from the Board and from the Gaborone business community has been most encouraging.

The Board welcomed its two newest members, Mr Ramachandran Ottapattu better known as “Ram”, and Mr Angus Boxhall-Smith.   Ram and Angus join the Board as nominees of Ram’s family company which has purchased the aging Kirby family’s residual interest in their land at Mokolodi, subject to Ian and Gwithie’s lifetime right to continue to live in their home beside the lake, and to the right of the Mokolodi Wildlife Foundation (Mokolodi) to continue to operate the Nature Reserve and Education Centre on a charitable basis in terms of its ninety-nine-year lease.   Ram is well known as a trader and entrepreneur in the region, lives at Mokolodi, and is a generous supporter of the Mmokolodi Village community. He is also a family man and an animal lover. Angus is a successful businessman in the fields of construction and tourism and an ardent conservationist.   He has a long history with Mokolodi, and worked with his company, to erect Mokolodi’s World’s View Conference facility.  Together with Ram he is presently developing a number of ‘mini’ estates with state-of-the-art security on the northern boundary of the Mokolodi Nature Reserve, whose occupants will similarly support the project as corporate members of the Friends of Mokolodi.

Asked as to his future intentions regarding Mokolodi, Ram had this to say: “I am proud to join with my fellow members of the community who have, together with long standing Members of the Mokolodi Board, Executive Committee and Management and Staff, worked so hard to develop and establish the Mokolodi Nature Reserve and its iconic Environmental Centre, and to play my part in its permanent continuation and success as a charitable model game reserve and a world-class educational facility for present and future generations of Batswana children. Angus and I both pledge our full support for the staff and members of the Foundation in ensuring that these charitable objectives are met for all time, and that the Gaborone and surrounding communities continue to enjoy the outdoors at their Nature Reserve on a permanent basis.”

At the same meeting it was proposed, and the Board approved, that Mr Kabelo Binns, a member of the new generation of young and upwardly mobile Batswana businesspersons, be appointed to the Board.   Kabelo also has a long history with Mokolodi and boasts an impressive CV in the fields of marketing, education, tourism, and corporate charity. A former Public Affairs Manager at Debswana, Kabelo founded the highly successful Hotwire Family of Brands, and serves as an active Board member of, among others, Business Botswana, Maru-a-Pula School, and Y-Care. He has also seen service as Vice-Chairman of the Botswana Agricultural Marketing Board and as a member of the Botswana National Vision 2036 Presidential Task Team.   Presently he is Board Chairperson of Okavango Wilderness Safaris. We are confident that he will play a prominent part in enhancing Mokolodi’s brand.

So, with that new support, and the continued hard work of our long-standing Board Members, Executive Committee Members and Friends of Mokolodi, we are confident that in the new year and beyond the Mokolodi Wildlife Foundation will continue to pursue its charitable objectives for the benefit and enjoyment of Batswana children and the community at large.

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