Cape-based freelance motoring journalist, RICHARD WILEY, recently visited Kenya and the Meru National Park, to find out first-hand, exactly what drives the conservation partnership between the Born Free Foundation and Land Rover. Here’s his story about a venture which he described as “truly inspirational.”
There’s an awful lot more to being a good car manufacturer than simply designing and assembling cars and meeting emissions and safety standards. In reality, the car is the end product of a multitude of endeavours, not least of which is that essential component commonly described as “corporate social responsibility.”
Putting something back into the community in which a company thrives is the cornerstone of this philosophy and in my experience, none does it better than UK-based Land Rover.
This company of course operates way beyond the confines of local communities because its footprint is found in every corner of the globe and that is why Land Rover has been an active supporter of far-reaching ventures such as the Red Cross and the Born Free Foundation with which it formed a Conservation Partnership as far back as 2002.
Along with a select few journalists from the UK, USA, South Africa and Kenya, I recently received an invitation from Land Rover to experience first-hand how the company dovetails with the Born Free Foundation in the protection of wildlife in Kenya and more specifically, in the Meru National Park some 300 km north east of Nairobi.
The Born Free Foundation was created in 1984 by actors and wildlife campaigners Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna who starred in the film Born Free which was based on the life of Elsa the lioness who was cared for as an orphan by George and Joy Adamson and subsequently released into the wild.
Virginia continues her close involvement with the Foundation in the role of Trustee while her son Will has taken over the reins as an active and deeply involved President leading the charitable Foundation’s drive to protect wildlife species through the preservation of the increasingly pressurised environment in which they exist.
In simple terms, the pressure is sourced in expanding human populations and their need for land and by ruthless poaching, a situation which has received close attention from the Born Free Foundation in its quest to enlighten societies as to how humans and wild animals can successfully co-exist.
Indeed, this very aspect has been addressed in the southern game parks of Kenya where the Foundation, in collaboration with Land Rover, has been instrumental in establishing secure bomas to protect the livestock belonging to the local population from the attentions of errant lions.
The Land Rover involvement is not something recent though as the connection goes right back to the 1950s when George Adamson roamed the wilds of Kenya in various Land Rovers used to assist his work in preserving and protecting the wild lion population.
As a follow-up to the aforementioned 2002 partnership, Land Rover signed a new contract with Born Free in November 2013, extending its partnership into the provision of vehicles to assist field workers in reaching far-flung areas not just in Kenya but in Southern Asia and in South Africa. Logistical support has also been stepped-up as we were to find out in our extraordinary journey through the Meru Conservation Area and surrounding lands.
After a 50-minute journey by air from Wilson Airfield on the outskirts of ever-expanding Nairobi, we landed at a hot and dusty airstrip in Meru to be greeted by members of the Land Rover Experience team based in Johannesburg and by senior personnel from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).
Also on hand were no fewer than seven Land Rovers, all bedecked in the colours of the Born Free Foundation. Two of these were black Defender 110 models donated by Land Rover and five were 2014 Discovery 3.0SD V6 models, painted in sparkling white and, amazingly, fitted with Gauteng number plates.
Land Rover sub-Sahara Africa had certainly gone beyond the call of duty in providing us with such plush and effective transport to roam the African wilds but this act alone attests to the importance Land Rover places on its joint conservation efforts with Born Free.
Our accommodation for two nights was at the simply stunning Elsas’s Kopje. This is an award-winning lodge discretely integrated into Mughwango Hill, playground of Elsa the lioness in the 50s and situated within metres of the Adamson’s original camp and just a kilometre or so from the spot where parts from George Adamson’s Series 2 Land Rover provide an emotional reminder of the enlightened conservation work undertaken so long ago.
Here we met the softly spoken yet deeply committed Virginia McKenna who along with her eldest son, Will, has done so much to perpetuate George Adamson’s legacy. The pair were to be our constant companions on our two day adventure which brought home to all of us how the Born Free Foundation and the Kenya Wildlife Service has reversed the negative effects of bandit and poaching activity which nearly brought the Meru wilderness to its knees.
A progressive re-stocking policy combined with the efforts of the KWS and the Born Free Foundation has ensured that visitors to the Park are rewarded with regular sightings of game, big and small, albeit that the poaching threat is still far too prevalent as we were to witness in person.
Indeed, after a visit to Elsa’s grave which is situated right alongside the river and former campsite where she romped with her human carers and subsequently roamed as a rehabilitated wild lion more than 50 years ago, we visited the Meru base camp of the KWS.
Here, we learned a lot more about the threat to wildlife and to flora and fauna in the region and how Project Lion Rover has been implemented to assist in defeating the powers of evil.
When it became apparent that the KWS team was in need of equipment to help the staff carry out their duties, Land Rover responded by supplying tents, laptops, binoculars, cameras, cold weather clothing and hand-held GPS devices.
De-snaring is a critical element of the protection process and to demonstrate just how effective the Born Free field team has become, we were taken to an area within visual range of our lodge where “active” snares had been found.
In the company of armed KWS personnel who told us that angry buffalo rather than snarling lions were their biggest problem in the bush, we trekked through savannah grassland and widely dispersed trees to find the de-snaring team had located no fewer than five wire snares in a confined area. Worse still, one of these snares had ended the life of a small giraffe which had been caught by its neck and left to meet a grizzly end.
This intensive activity is on-going and is important not just for saving the lives of wild animals but for retaining what I would term the balance of nature. As antelope would appear to be the primary but not sole target of the snares, a further reduction in their population could cause lions to revert to attacking the livestock of the thousands of people who live in areas bordering the National Park.
Accordingly, the Born Free Foundation has implemented schemes to try and resolve potential human/animal conflict areas while taking steps to educate the thousands of school children resident in the bordering areas on matters relating to conservation and wildlife preservation.
No fewer than 13 running rivers fed from nearby mountains, are the lifeblood of the Meru Conservation area and these are under threat from habitat losses and from deliberate diversion of existing water courses. Of particular importance is the incredible 4139ha Ngaya Forest area which falls under the auspices of the Kenya Forest Service with whom the Born Free Foundation closely co-operates.
The safeguarding of the towering trees and dense vegetation which borders on habitated land that in turn borders on the Park, is absolutely crucial to the survival of that Park, and Born Free with the help of Land Rover, is in the vanguard of spreading the word and providing practical assistance in realising sustainability.
Reaching remote parts has always taxed man’s ingenuity and this applies in particular to traversing far-flung game parks. In our case, we were encouraged to sample the Born Free Land Rover Defenders as well as the more modern and altogether more luxurious Discovery models.
Boarding the Defender was something of a time warp as I spent many of my younger days at the wheel of a Series 2A Landie. The basics are unchanged which means ruggedness predominates. The steering is low-geared and rather vague, the turning circle is other-worldly and the clutch and gearshift are endowed with a firm, deliberate action.
But the point is that the Defender is totally at home in the outdoors, particularly as it is equipped with permanent 4WD with low ratio on tap and with a 2.2 diesel motor that provides 90% of its meaty 360Nm maximum torque output from just 2 200 rpm.
That means it’s entirely possible to meander along appalling surfaces with a high gear engaged just as it’s possible to tackle 45 degree ascents and crest deep ditches secure in the knowledge that 250mm of ground clearance will allow safe passage.
It was entirely appropriate to be traversing the self-same terrain that George and Joy Adamson did 50 years ago in a near-identical icon of the off-road motoring world, but I feel certain George and Elsa too, would delight in the comforts of the latest Discovery, albeit that the soft leather seat facings and a lion’s claws would not exactly be compatible!
With all the luxuries of a modern executive car and all the practicalities of 4WD and Terrain Response, the 7-seat Discovery is the ultimate all-rounder. Serene is the one word that encapsulates the ultra-smooth 8-speed auto box and the 3.0 TD V6 that transfers up to 520Nm to the wheels.
It’s hard to believe that something so smart can be so capable but when the mere push of a button provides massively increased ground clearance courtesy of air suspension and processors distribute torque according to specific conditions, even the uninitiated can make comfortable progress.
And on that subject, the latest sat nav system proved infallible, providing 100% accurate mapping and voice guidance even in the most remote parts of the Meru!
Amazing, but for me not quite as amazing as the simply outstanding conservation work being done by the Born Free Foundation with the comprehensive backing of Land Rover. Without commitments such as this, the truth is we would have no parks at all to drive through.
Wherever public figures go, their followers expect class, couture and elegance. It is of course expected if you are a public figure.
It looks like a stress-free job with free-passes to top red carpet events, behind-the-scenes snaps and exclusive interviews with lifestyle journalists, popping champagne and cashing coin from appearance fees but it is a whole struggle.
One ought to look the part every time, or else fashion police will be dragging them on social media. Talking about being dragged and humiliated on social media for an unflattering outfit, TV personality and socialite Sadi Dikgaka was at one point publicly trolled for appearing on TV wearing an unflattering pink jumpsuit.
One wardrobe malfunction cannot deem Sadi tacky- not by a long shot. She was just unfortunate that day that she picked the wrong piece, but she has constantly served her followers on Instagram the best from her closet.
Now that she is a brand ambassador for Options Botswana, her style includes romantic dresses with detailed sleeves from Options, making her serve a million dollar style. She says she lives for drama! Some of her sizzling designs are from Versatile Creations, and I would love to believe these are local fashion designers.
Prominent corporate MC, voice over artist, radio journalist and an aspiring farmer, Oratile Kefitlhile is proving that there is more to her. She has killer taste in clothes, and she has proven to be an unstoppable force in the fashion world and her Instagram followers can attest to that. In fact, they just like her stunning looks.
Just like Sadi Dikgaka working with Options Botswana, she earned herself a worthwhile contract with Standard Chartered Bank as their social media influencer, pushing their SC Mobile App. She has continued to serve her impeccable style on Instagram with most of her designs from Dihdah BW. Dihdah BW are a young couple dedicated to change the fashion landscape in the country, and they are effortlessly doing the things.
Just this week, she broke down Instagram with spunky looks and super glam picks from Every Day BW. If there is anyone in the celebrity world defining feminism, she can be the only pick, well at least from Weekend Life.
After keeping his followers anxious about his surprise, radio and TV personality who is also a brand ambassador for Durex, Loungo Pitse’s fashion sense cannot be ignored. He is always serving bomb looks, whether he is wearing his designer suits or just a casual wear being out for tea or having an informal meeting just somewhere around the capital city.
On his birthday early this year, Pitse’s suit from Gudah Designs looked classic, elegant and bold. His Instagram followers be drooling over his fashion choices and eager to know where he gets her stuff. If he is not wearing Gudah Designs, he checks on Black Thrash designers or Elite Gentleman as well as Justice Maverick Hubane for footwear to match his extravagant designer outfits.
Digital content creator, blogger and fashion stylist, Tumie Nthutang doesn’t only know how to dress celebrities by the book, she always turns on the heat on her Gram page. Her followers would want to get their hands on her looks every single time, and Weekend Life did already.
Her latest offering on Instagram was from her wardrobe but she managed to put together everything, leaving a golden touch to her followers. Of course she loves toying with colourful prints and playful pieces together with chunky earrings and hairpieces from The Makeover Place.
She attended Gaona Dintwe’s thanksgiving dinner with a bubbly golden dress that covered every vibe at the event that was exclusive to certain A-listers. The girls gathered together to reflect on the devastating 2020.
Kagiso Sento might have been making headlines for all the wrong reasons recently, but this Shell Botswana and Renne Make Up ambassador always keeps her outfits effortlessly cool. To be honest, she could wear a paper bag and her followers would probably like it.
She served a hot yellow look with an African-print dress from Faddi Official just recently, and Weekend Life couldn’t ignore the navy-blue dress with detailed sleeves she wore last year. A black and white blazer from KLS Collections also was never to be ignored.
Award-winning songstress and radio host Samantha Mogwe’s fashion taste is one of a kind, and her Instagram account details her style looks from head to toe. Knowing pretty well how to serve themed-outfits, Mogwe would blow her followers away and she never cease to amaze Weekend Life.
Gone are the days when a woman’s capability was limited to the kitchen walls and being house wives. The narration has changed over the years and women have made their voices heard, taking up space in all spheres of influence.
Today women can serve as Presidents as Members of Parliament as well as Chief Executive Officers. Offices which were only dominated or deemed fit for men. Whether or not women who hold powerful position are a threat to men, no one can say for sure but there are a handful of men who can’t stand a woman’s tenacity, zeal and power. So much so that they end up trying by all means to pull them down.
While that is the case with some men, some find powerful women smart and mostly attracted to them. While some men may find it a bitter pill to swallow that their women bring home the bread, there are a few rare bred men who go over and beyond for women in powerful positions, helping them in any way they can.
In a study led by Ekaterina Netchaeva, Ph.D., at Bocconi University in Italy, Netchaeva concluded that from an unjustified manhood theory, that when a woman occupies a superior organizational role, men in subordinate positions experience it as a threat, which leads them to behave more assertively towards her and advocate for themselves.
Status is not the only thing that make men feel threatened and inferior; gender and status kills their manhood. This also because they prefer to be pushy in the work place. “Clearly, this is problematic for the many talented, determined women trying to break through the glass ceiling — or simply earn a living,” said the study.
In an interview with WeekendPostsome women have admitted to have experienced being pulled down by men. Makgato Malesu is one of the most powerful women, who said that at some point men questioned how she made it to the top. But that did not stop her from soaring. Today she serves in the highest position in international community.
Being a leading Creative Entrepreneur, Masego Manyaapelo said she had experienced intimidations by men who were her clients. Which she said it was a bizarre combination of sexism and chauvinism.
“More women are holding positions of power and influence in the workspace. This is something that has become the new norm. Men are finding it exceptionally difficult to accept the reality that women are just as competent and sometimes even more than they are. Women climb the corporate ladder faster because they have a lot more to prove and a lot more to lose than their counterparts. For this reason, men are intimidated by the ‘new normal’ in the workplace,” Manyaapelo said.
While some men have evolved with time and are now at ease with the dynamics about women in leadership some men have come to esteem women who hold strong positions. Currently leading as Communications Manager at MassMart, a holding company for trading brands like Game Stores, Builders World, Jumbo, Makro, Cambridge and many more, Tinabo Majaye highlighted that she had never been intimidated by her male counterparts.
“As a young hardworking and ambitious woman who was born and raised in Botswana but working in South Africa’s highly competitive corporate world, gender based power imbalances in the work place have never been an issue for me. I personally have never had judgement in my areas of expertise, questioned nor have I ever had to provide more evidence of my competence than my male counterparts,” she said.
“This is largely attributable to having worked with modern, liberal and progressive men who believe in the advancement of women in the workplace based on their credentials, capabilities and work ethic.” Senior Human Resource Manager at De Beers Matlhogonolo Mponang, has served in different leadership roles which she has executed with utmost excellence and without batting an eye. Mponang begs to differ that men are intimidated by women in powerful positions.
“I think it is unfair to single out men within a general population of varied people. I think I have made people uncomfortable, not because they were male and I was female but simply because I have such a strong personality and I have never had a problem with speaking truth to power, as long as I believed the truth served a greater good and represented my values. As for intimidation. I think people in general are intimidated but anything different from them- especially if the person in question is generally not comfortable with change,” she said.
“I have definitely at some points in my professional life felt that there were waves of subjugation but it was not from any one demographic and it wasn’t always from my superiors. Being radical and transformational means that you will sometimes meet with violent or non-violent opposition. It is not so much a construct of gender or more specifically about men being intimidated by women. It is a human and universal reaction to anything that challenges the status quo.”
MEN’S OPINIONS ABOUT POWERFUL WOMEN
“Truth is women in leadership positions or even those who are just doing well for themselves intimidate men. We say it’s not so and we want our women to do great things but one thing that shows the intimidation is how men fear approaching such women to ask them out. Men question their abilities when they see such, if they are their types, if they can maintain them and if her independence won’t degrade their masculinity,” Joseph Pharatlhatlhe said, a teacher by Profession.
“I don’t know the statistics but I’m pretty sure a good number of women in leadership stay single for a long time lest some male superior to them comes into the picture or the lady herself brings herself down to point of asking a man out or even dating younger men. Ladies most of the time are like slay queens, they are very choosy and when they let you down they hurt your ego big time because it would have taken a lot for you to approach.”
Transformational Speaker, Uyapoh Letus also attested to the fact that some men find it hard to stand a woman who is powerful and have her game together. “It is really about cultural background and our upbringing. In our society almost every person grew up knowing that men kind of hold the high position. Men are considered most powerful and that he comes first. Everyone grows up in this believe. As we grow in this cooperate spaces. We take these believes to our work place,” he said.
“It is so difficult for some men accept having a lady leading them in an organisation. They find it very difficult to take instruction from them. They also find it difficult to believe that a woman is leading them. Lawrence Ookeditse an independent researcher and Convener of the Botswana Jobs Summit, also a former Director of Youth/Policy Specialist for the Government of Botswana in the Ministry of Youth Empowerment Sport and Culture Development when quizzed said, it is an issue of power itself.
“The power dynamics have been shaped in a very realistic, survival and self-preservation orientated. Meaning everyone who wants power, they go out for the kill because they also want to survive. It is about being in the position to take over. The problem is power itself, because power is public good. I don’t think it is a case of men intimidated by women particularly. Men are also intimidated by other men. Human beings are naturally self-interested,” he said.
“Women who hold powerful positions usually perform well. That I think we could look into a comprehensive study. The key thing also is we must create space for fairness, competitiveness that it should not matter whether you are a men or a woman.
It should be about merit and it should ensure that artificial barriers are removed for women to be able to participate to reach their full potential. The problem is there are often barriers for entry for women. That limit them from participating like men. The system has been rigged and the system needs to be fixed.”
It goes without saying that men and women handle pain differently. Especially emotional pain. Men tend to be more emotionally immature compared to women when it comes to matters of the heart.
It is for this reason that men do not handle break ups or cheating as well as their counterparts. Where women have been groomed from a young age to express their emotions men have been told to “suck it up and be a man”. This may be one of the reasons why men are unable to express their emotions. It’s therefore that it can be a tad bit surprising that men cheat the most but are the weakest to deal when cheated on.
Research has proven that men find it difficult to digest being cheated on. British Psychotherapist, Philip Hodson opines that men find it hard to forgive cheating because it affects their masculinity, and to them, it might signal the end of the relationship.
“Men can forgive themselves for their indiscretions, but they find it much harder to forgive their partners for the same. For a betrayed woman, an affair by a man is an offence against her dignity, but for a betrayed man, a woman’s infidelity is an offence against his manhood. It goes right to the core of his identity,” said Hodson.
WeekendLife also interviewed a few gentlemen on their honest feeling about being cheated and if they find it hard to forgive their partners after cheating. Tinashe Mangiroza said, “From the beginning, men are designed with the potential to have and to reproduce with many spouses. Women on the other hand are more or less designed to focus on one man. Along with this natural design, women have stronger pain tolerance. Yes women feel pain when cheated on, but their tolerance is much higher than that of a man (in view of what I said above).”
“And men on the other hand have a low emotional pain tolerance, hence the higher suicide and murder rates among men. Then remember there’s also the ego element which men have. So when you combine a big ego, low pain tolerance and other things such as selfishness and competing with other men, it almost ends a man’s self-worth when a woman he loves decides to sleep with another man.”
He admits to have been cheated on before which he said it took away his self-esteem and he had to sleep around as a way of easing the pain whilst waiting to heal. Another gentleman who was also cheated at some point, Monwabisi Ndumiso Mgenge, highlighted that when a woman cheated on him it becomes very difficult for him to take her back because loyalty is everything to him.
“This is because most of the times relationship involves sex. You see the person naked you enjoy that, you don’t want anybody having what you have. You are emotionally invested and have imagined the future many times and this is why some get violent cause its trauma really.”
Psychologist at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Prof. Toba Elegbeleye said, “when it comes to marriage, men and women see things differently. He pointed out that a man tends to see the woman as possession, and so, the moment somebody else tries to cross the boundary and interferes with his property, there is bound to be serious problem.”
“So, it is not because women don’t care or they forgive so easily, but the circumstances don’t favour them as they favour men. If women were in a dominant position, they easily would have driven the man away. So, the moment a female has committed herself to marriage, for her to voluntarily and openly get out of it becomes a kind of stigma, and women cannot handle stigma, particularly where children are involved. Mothers would not want to walk away, unless it’s beyond their powers, thus they would rather endure.”
Thabiso Cavin Bogopa, an Empowerment Expert also shared with WeekendLife that men are wired different from women hence their response to cheating won’t be the same. “What may prove to be a difficulty in men forgiving cheating is that, generally speaking men sleep with who they can, women sleep with who they want, so the overarching thing becomes she cheated with her desire, the person she is actually attracted to and the cheated man struggles with that truth, as he realizes that sex for him is opportunity based, while for his counterpart is a deliberate and conscious choice.
This to a certain extent is what forms the challenge for men,” he explained. “Cheating devalues an individual both the cheater and cheated on, but more profoundly manifest in the cheated as they start to decrease in their self-esteem, losing their regard for themselves as they are undermined they may begin to try to address this trauma in multiple ways but more commonly through being exactly what they detest because they are stuck in the experience, they therefore cheat and become messed up.”
“No one gets away with cheating even if you never get caught, you become depleted as a person by the lies, trickery and illicit emotional trade. But if we may, the choice to forgive a cheating partner is a personal choice that goes both ways.”