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Group from the Okavango Delta

Baskets from the Okavango Delta – SAVE initiative supports Nxagara community


Between the famous hippo pool Nxaichaa and a huge Mokolwane palm tree lies a village called Nxagara in the north of Botswana. Together with SAVE Wildlife Conservation Fund, a group of 25 women and men is spearheading an ancient tradition: basketry. The elderly women and men are collecting reeds of the Mokolwane trees to use for their crafting. However, the fresh sprouting reeds are left to grow and reproduce. Later on, the community uses the roots to dye the material and to weave unique, colorful baskets and products out of the reeds. This traditional basketry is so in tune with nature and culture that is an imperative for SAVE to support the community in furthering its endeavor in preserving it. That’s why we provide training in marketing, accounting and a storeroom for the products. In the rural areas of Nothern Botswana it is extremely hard to generate new jobs as there are little possibilites outside of the cities. Hence, the basketry is a beautiful way for the community to have an income by selling their products in the region.

“Working as Women Empowerment project officer is a joy and fulltime adventure”, says SAVE officer Tendae Andrew Kholi who is working with the community on-site. “You get to learn from highly energized and inspired elderly women and men who use their natural resources such as Mokolwane trees as alternatives to source income, basing on their indigenous knowledge to craft and weaver authentic Okavango baskets and crafts. They taught me how to preserve plants by encouraging me to cut only mature reeds and leave fresh reeds to grow, knowledge they acquired from their grandparents.”

The basketry is part of the SAVE Women Empowerment Project that aims to grow female businesses in Botswana but of course men are also welcome in this initiative.

As SAVE we are working united for conservation by working together with local communities. It is our goal to preserve nature and its unique wildlife holistically by providing education for conservation and to ssupport the empowerment and development of rural regions as these are often hit by human wildlife conflicts. We only work together with locals and establish solutions together as we believe that only through cooperation with the people who are affected, it is possible to work towards effective species conservation.

1000 cabbages from the desert
Wülfrath development project conquers Botswana’s supermarkets


The project idea sounds as simple as it is challenging: provide people in Botswana with healthy fruits and vegetables while enabling them to start their own businesses as small-scale farmers. That was the motivation for the Climate Smart Agriculture project of the Wülfrath-based SAVE Wildlife Conservation Fund.

Less than a year after the project started, the first 1,000 cabbages are filling Botswana’s SPAR supermarket shelves. More vegetable shipments of corn, tomatoes and beans will join them in the future.

“The step onto supermarket shelves is a quantum leap. Because it shows that when people are given expert support in development projects, they can achieve a high degree of professionalization in a short time,” says foundation founder Lars Gorschlüter.

What sounds so easy and natural is a huge challenge in the semi-desert country of Botswana. Normally, fruits and vegetables there are imported mainly from the rainier regions of South Africa, because hardly anything grows in Botswana’s dry soils. Thus, in SAVE’s climate-friendly CSA project, it was crucial to prepare the sandy soil and equip it with a solar-controlled irrigation system and a shading system. Thirty farmers living around the Okavango Delta were trained in ecological farming methods and the use of organic fertilizers, as well as in accounting, marketing and sales. The project is supported by Duisburg-based travel provider schauinsland-reisen.

“It was important to us,” says SAVE founder Lars Gorschlüter, “to offer people an alternative to livestock farming. After all, the more livestock are kept close to national parks and game reserves, the greater the conflicts with wild animals and the more frequently lions are shot when they tear cows and goats,” says the founder of the foundation.

For the conservationist, the project is a threefold success: First, people who were hit particularly hard by the Corona pandemic were able to build a new livelihood. Second, they now have enough vitamin-rich food for their own consumption, which is an important contribution to the health of the local population. And thirdly, the CSA projects are an important contribution to species and wildlife conservation.

With the listing in the SPAR market in Maun, the gateway to the Okavango Delta, even travelers support the fruit and vegetable cultivation project. This is because the supermarket with SAVE products is the main port of call for anyone stocking up for their multi-day safari into the delta.

NEW SPONSORSHIP FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PLAYGROUP IN BOTSWANA – Güven & Partner committed to species conservation education for children

16.05.2023 The SAVE Wildlife Conservation Fund aims to introduce children to environmental and conservation issues at an early age in one of the most wildlife-rich areas on earth. To this end, 37 environmental playgroups have now been opened around Botswana’s game reserves. The law firm Güven & Partner has now taken over a sponsorship for one of these playgroups in the village of Motopi. The playgroup is located between the Nxai Pan and Makgadikgadi Pans National Parks and is supervised by two SAVE-trained educators. The children learn child-friendly and basic knowledge about Botswana’s biodiversity and natural areas through the specially designed environmental education program “Early Childhood Development Curriculum”. The playgroup opened with a new look at the end of January 2023 after renovation and purchase of toys and learning materials. The goal is to teach children how to coexist with wildlife without conflict to promote peaceful coexistence. The local community has responded well to the offer for children, and 28 children have already been enrolled in the program.

TOGETHER FOR A CLIMATE-FRIENDLY AGRICULTURE – Schauinsland-Reisen supports development project of Wülfrath Foundation for the protection of species in Botswana

06.02.2023 The Wülfrath Foundation has been active in the region for 12 years with over 50 projects and now supports village communities and non-profit groups in climate-friendly fruit and vegetable cultivation with the CSA program. Projects supported include a vegetable garden at a shelter for orphans at risk, a village community garden for organic farming, and a women’s empowerment project. With the support of schauinsland-reisen, another milestone is now possible: a two-hectare organic fruit and vegetable garden on the edge of one of the most wildlife-rich areas of Botswana. It is the extension of an already existing vegetable garden of also two hectares.

SAVE SAVES NILE HOPES FROM DEATH – Drought endangers hippos in Botswana’s Lake Ngami

13.12.2023 The challenging and elaborate rescue operation took place in October to November in Lake Ngami, a lake south of the Okavango Delta World Heritage Site in Botswana. This year, too, the water masses from the delta that normally feed the lake failed to materialize. A dramatic picture presented itself to the SAVE helpers: 23 hippos were stuck motionless in the mud and at least 10 of them had already died of starvation and thirst. The animals were exposed with their sensitive skin to the burning sun. They were hippopotamus cows that remained there together with their babies.