Today, the National Geographic Society announced three new National Geographic Explorers from Botswana. These three individuals were named Explorers in recognition of their extraordinary achievements in protecting and preserving the Okavango Delta and its source waters – and the people and livelihoods it supports.
The new Explorers include: Gobonamang “GB” Kgetho: GB is the main protagonist of the recently released film, “Nkashi: Race for the Okavango,” and is the head mokoro poler for the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project (NGOWP), which is locally implemented by the Botswana Wild Bird Trust (BWBT). GB has crossed the Okavango Delta every year since 2010, and all the large rivers in Angola and Namibia, alongside National Geographic Explorer Steve Boyes. He is also an active member of the Seronga Polers Trust. Having grown up in the village Seronga, GB is also passionate about preserving the culture and history of his community.
Tumeletso Setlabosha (known as “Mr. Water.”): Mr. Water was a wilderness guide in the Okavango Delta for 22 years, and has been with the NGOWP since 2014. He’s born and of the Delta and deeply understands the complexity of the river system. His traditional knowledge has been instrumental in strengthening and facilitating NGOWP’s scientific work, including biodiversity surveys, species identification, and its annual Delta crossing.
Charles Mpofu: Charles is currently a researcher at Botswana’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks, and specializes in wattled crane research. Wattled cranes are an important indicator of ecosystem health in the Delta – but they have not been extensively studied in Botswana, with no crane-focused survey being carried out in over a decade. Charles will use cutting-edge technologies, including aerial drone surveys and GPS tracking, to study the wattled crane population size, seasonal distribution, nesting numbers, and potential environmental disturbances. He will work alongside local researchers and citizen scientists.
“GB, Mr. Water, and Charles are committed to illuminating and protecting Botswana’s natural and cultural heritage. I’m absolutely thrilled they’ll be part of our growing community of National Geographic Explorers,” said Jill Tiefenthaler, Chief Executive Officer of the National Geographic Society. “Together, they are creating new technologies for community-led conservation, enriching science and storytelling with their traditional knowledge, and inspiring the next generation of Explorers in their communities.”
GB, Mr. Water, and Charles join three other National Geographic Explorers in Botswana – Steve Boyes, Koketso “Koki” Mookodi, and Thalefang Charles. This collective team of Explorers supports the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project and other Explorer-led programs, through rigorous science, community education and outreach, and storytelling – to advance the Society’s mission of illuminating and protecting the wonder of our world.