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.
Logaga Lwa Ditiragalo, a cultural exchange TV show, is set to ignite a genuine appreciation of diversity in Botswana and revitalize the country’s great tourism sector. In recent years, culture in Botswana has taken a backseat, leading to tribalism and narcissism that has caused division and resentment among different ethnic groups. However, a small group of individuals is determined to bring back the golden days of culture and restore unity among the people.
The TV show, Logaga Lwa Ditiragalo, aims to shine a spotlight on the diverse ethnic groups in Botswana, such as Balete, Bangwaketse, Baherero, Bakalaka, Bangwato, Bayei, Basarwa, Bakwena, Batswapong, and Bakgatla. By showcasing the distinctive characteristics, age-old traditions, and deeply rooted values of these cultural groups, the program seeks to foster a broader understanding and appreciation for Botswana’s rich cultural tapestry.
Recognizing the pivotal role of culture in shaping human identity, Logaga Lwa Ditiragalo aims to serve as a bridge across the cultural landscape. In an era of increasing global connectivity, the show believes that exposing individuals to different ethnic cultures can cultivate understanding, nurture respect, and ignite a genuine appreciation for diversity.
Beyond its entertainment value, the TV show holds substantial benefits for Botswana. It has the capacity to preserve the country’s unique heritage, traditions, and customs, contributing significantly to the nation’s sense of identity and pride. Moreover, the program’s portrayal of Botswana’s cultural richness is expected to attract tourists, invigorating the tourism sector and creating employment opportunities, thus bolstering the country’s economic landscape.
Logaga Lwa Ditiragalo also aims to be a catalyst for social cohesion, fostering unity among people from diverse backgrounds and promoting a deeper understanding of cultural diversity. By showcasing the beauty and richness of Botswana’s cultural heritage, the program seeks to bring people together and bridge the gaps that have been created by tribalism and narcissism.
The TV show is meticulously designed to captivate audiences interested in delving into the intricacies of ethnic cultures. With a commitment to both entertainment and education, Logaga Lwa Ditiragalo will unfold over forty days, starting in October 2024, captivating viewers on TV networks and various social media platforms.
At the heart of the TV show are twenty individuals chosen to represent the cultural diversity in Botswana. The inclusion of two individuals with disabilities underscores the program’s commitment to inclusivity and aligns seamlessly with the country’s vision of promoting equal opportunities for all.
The selection process for participants involves public participation, with interested individuals casting their votes through service providers. This transparent and inclusive cultural affair ensures that the TV show truly represents the diverse cultural landscape of Botswana.
Logaga Lwa Ditiragalo sets out to revive culture in Botswana, ignite a genuine appreciation of diversity, and revitalize the tourism sector. By showcasing the unique heritage, traditions, and customs of different ethnic groups, the TV show aims to foster unity, understanding, and respect among the people of Botswana. With its potential to attract tourists and create employment opportunities, Logaga Lwa Ditiragalo holds great promise for the country’s cultural and economic landscape.
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and love is in the air. It’s the perfect time to celebrate with heartwarming music, and “Ha Kena Le Thabo” by the Dalom Kids is the ultimate anthem for this special day. This catchy tune not only captures the essence of the season but also carries a powerful message that resonates with listeners.
The Dalom Kids have taken the spotlight with their latest remix hit song, and it’s no surprise why. Their music has stood the test of time, and their songs are loved today as much as they were loved two decades ago. They have found a way to revamp their music, aligning it with the current times, and their collaboration with Nkosazana daughter By Master KG SA Music last year is a testament to their dedication to empowering individuals during difficult times.
“Ha Kena Le Thabo” is a song that encourages listeners to express their heartfelt appreciation towards their loved ones. It serves as a reminder to acknowledge and celebrate the love and support we receive from those who are dear to us. In a world that often moves too quickly, it’s easy to forget the significance of love and companionship. However, the Dalom Kids’ music reminds us of the indispensability of gratitude and how it strengthens the bonds we share with our loved ones.
The Dalom Kids have made a name for themselves in the South African music scene, captivating audiences for several decades. Their unique blend of contemporary sounds and traditional influences has left an indelible mark on the industry. Their songs have always carried important messages, addressing topics such as love, unity, and resilience.
Formed in 1987 by the late Daniel Tshanda, the group consists of Jacqueline Rotwana, Petronella Rampou, and Magdeline Zungu. Together, they have created music that resonates with people from all walks of life. Their songs are not only catchy but also carry a deeper meaning, touching the hearts of listeners.
“Ha Kena Le Thabo” effortlessly fits into the pattern of the Dalom Kids’ music, reinforcing the importance of acknowledging and celebrating the love we have in our lives. It serves as a reminder to slow down and appreciate the love and support we receive from our loved ones. In a world that can often be chaotic and overwhelming, this song brings a sense of calm and gratitude.
As Valentine’s Day approaches, let the music of the Dalom Kids inspire you to express your love and appreciation for those who bring joy to your life. Let “Ha Kena Le Thabo” be the soundtrack to your celebrations, as you embrace the spirit of gratitude and affection that this season represents. Take a moment to reflect on the love you have in your life and let this song be a reminder of the importance of expressing that love to those who matter most.
In conclusion, “Ha Kena Le Thabo” by the Dalom Kids is the perfect anthem for Valentine’s Day. Its catchy tune and powerful message make it an ideal song to celebrate love and gratitude. Let this song inspire you to express your love and appreciation for those who bring joy to your life. As you celebrate this special day, let the music of the Dalom Kids be the soundtrack to your celebrations, reminding you of the importance of love and companionship.
The Miss Botswana pageant is in full swing, with the top 10 finalists working tirelessly to impress the judges and secure the coveted title. This week, the finalists have been busy with their Beauty-With-A-Purpose projects, a crucial component of the Miss World pageant. The spotlight is on these young women as they showcase their commitment to making a difference in the lives of others.
The Beauty-With-A-Purpose documentation week is a crucial moment for the finalists. They will be filmed as they present their projects to the judges and the audience, highlighting the impact they have had on their communities. This aspect of the competition is particularly important, as Miss World advocates for the wellbeing of children. Therefore, the projects should be aligned with this mission and demonstrate a genuine commitment to improving the lives of children.
Unfortunately, Botswana has never won the Beauty-With-A-Purpose competition at Miss World. This suggests that previous projects from Miss Botswana queens may not have been convincing enough or may not have met the criteria set by Miss World. It is crucial for the finalists to ensure that their projects are compelling and directly address the needs of children in their communities.
The top 10 finalists for Miss Botswana are Relebanye Bakane, Anicia Gaothusi, Halle Hirschfeld, Lorato Kgangyapelo, Sebaga Manyepetsa, Otshepo Nthonyana, Charmaine Reasentse, Lefika Tladi, Emma Tshisimogo, and Christina Vanstaden. These young women have shown great dedication and passion throughout the competition, and it is clear that they are determined to make a difference.
The Miss Botswana Organization has been proactive in ensuring that the pageant is inclusive and representative of the entire country. Auditions were held across the country, allowing Batswana from all regions to participate in the journey. Additionally, a mini fashion show and beauty showcase were organized to highlight the talents and beauty of the contestants.
The Miss Botswana pageant has been a major event in the country, with 34 episodes documenting the journey to finding the next queen. The Top 30 finalists were celebrated with a grand launch, and the plans for their journey were unveiled. The organization has spared no effort in ensuring that the pageant is a memorable and impactful experience for all involved.
The highly anticipated Miss Botswana Top 10 launch will take place next week. The reigning Miss Botswana, Lesego Chombo, will represent the country at the 71st edition of Miss World, which will be held in New Delhi, India on March 2, 2024. Chombo was crowned by Polish model and Miss World 2021, Karolina Bielawska, who made a special appearance at the finale in October 2022. Chombo will now have the honor of crowning her successor at the upcoming pageant.
As the finale approaches, the heat is on in Miss Botswana’s kitchen. The top 10 finalists are working tirelessly to showcase their Beauty-With-A-Purpose projects and make a lasting impact. It is an exciting time for these young women, and the entire country is eagerly awaiting the crowning of the next Miss Botswana.