CITW Botswana – Sankoyo Primary School Camel Encounter

Through its programme and activities, Children in the Wilderness Botswana (CITW) aims to increase children’s awareness, bridge cultural divides, broaden horizons, build confidence, provide opportunities for new friendships and positive life choices, and open up career opportunities.

On the 18th of August 2023, the CITW team, along with Wilderness Botswana Guide Manager & Trainer Cilas Mafoko, organised a very special excursion for the Eco-Club members from Sankoyo Primary School – a camel encounter with Okavango Camel Rides in Maun.

In August 2022, the company transferred some of their camels from Tsabong to Maun to offer residents and visitors a unique and entertaining experience. Camels are well-known for their ability to live in desert conditions, including in Botswana’s arid savannah (semi-desert) Kgalagadi District where Tsabong is situated.

During their excursion, the children learnt all about camels, and were able to ride and feed them. The children were excited to see these unusual animals that they had never seen before. The Okavango Camel Rides staff started the programme with a briefing on camels; during this time, the children took the opportunity to ask questions, including about the camel’s hump. The staff quickly dispelled the age-old myth that the hump of a camel stores water. In fact, the camel hump stores fat, which allows for better thermoregulation.

Some of the characteristics that help camels to survive and adapt to their environment are:  

  • It has thick fur on the top of its body for shade, and thin fur elsewhere to allow easy heat loss.
  • The fatty hump provides energy in times of food shortages.
  • The ability to go for a long time without water – they lose very little through urination and sweating.
  • Slit-like nostrils and two rows of eyelashes to help keep sand out of their eyes and nose.
  • A large surface area to volume ratio, which maximises heat loss.
  • The ability to tolerate body temperatures up to 42°C.
  • Large, flat feet to spread their weight on the sand.

After the learning session, the children were given the chance to have a 1 km camel ride, and then feed the camels and generally interact with them.

The first time for anything can be scary and uncomfortable, as it was for the children meeting the camels. However, they quickly became familiar with them, and had a great time.

Children in the Wilderness Botswana team will like to direct its special gratitude to Botswana’s Ministry of Basic Education, Sankoyo Primary School management and teachers, and the parents of our Eco-club members, for their amazing support and empowerment of the Eco-Club members. Also, our special thanks to Cilas Mafoko for always availing his time to volunteer for CITW activities. Finally, CITW greatly appreciates the special hospitality our children and teachers experienced at the hands of the staff and management of Okavango Camel Ride.

By Kelebogile ‘Kelly’ Baitshoki – CITW Assistant Administrator, Botswana

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