Meet the Mentors who will be running the CITW Botswana Conservation Science Camp for rural girls in Eretsha village next week, from 18 -23 April, 2021.
The camp, which is part of a one-year project funded by the US Embassy in Botswana, is intended to encourage and empower school-going girls in rural areas to develop their interest in environmental conservation, and to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM)-related subjects so that they continue into environmental and STEM-based tertiary degrees and career trajectories.
Dr Jess Isden – Botswana Coexistence Coordinator, WildCRU
Jess runs the Coexistence Programme in Botswana for WildCRU’s Trans Kalahari Predator Programme. Her focus is on supporting rural farming communities that live alongside predators of conservation importance, such as lions and leopards, through providing locally-relevant mitigation strategies. She joined WildCRU in 2017, having previously spent three years as project manager at an elephant research and coexistence NGO. Jess has a BSc in Geography and an MSc in Conservation from the University of London, and has previously combined her love of fieldwork and wildlife by working on projects in Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and Australia. In 2014, Jess completed her PhD in Animal Behaviour, where she studied the evolution of cognitive ability in the iconic Australia bowerbird. She has since worked in Botswana on issues of human wildlife coexistence, and is currently a Research Associate of the University of Oxford, an adjunct Research Fellow at the University of Botswana, co-leader of a KAZA Carnivore Conservation Coalition Working Group and a member of the Human Wildlife Coexistence Working Group.
WildCRU – the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, University of Oxford
As part of the Department of Zoology at Oxford University, WildCRU is an interdisciplinary research unit that aims to find innovative conservation solutions that are underpinned by scientific research. The Unit has conservation projects worldwide, and aims to advise environmental policy makers, ensure community participation and involvement, implement locally adaptive solutions and provide educational support. WildCRU is particularly known for its specialisation in wild carnivores, from foxes and badgers, to lions and clouded leopards. The Trans Kalahari Predator Programme in southern Africa is one of WildCRU’s longest-standing research projects and aims to conduct ecological research on large predators and promote coexistence to simultaneously improve human livelihoods and protect threatened predator populations.
Manga Motho – Okavango Research Institute, University of Botswana
Manga Motho is a postgraduate student at the Okavango Research Institute, University of Botswana. She is currently pursuing a Master of Philosophy in Natural Resource Management, and her research is on water resource management. She also has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agricultural Economics obtained at the Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN) in 2015.
Manga has worked as a research assistant under various research projects at the University of Botswana, including group solidarity; social capital and indigenous approaches to fund mobilisation (how rural women sustain their livelihoods in the Okavango Delta); emerging regional fish trade and food security in the Lower Okavango Delta; and the potential of oil plants for the production of biodiesel in Botswana. In 2019, she was nominated from her postgraduate student peers to attend the River Basin Ecosystem Management course in the Okavango Delta, which was facilitated by the University of New South Wales (UNSW). Manga has also attended four local and regional symposiums. She has two research publications and her research interests are on natural resources economics. She also does charity work.
Ofentse Moseki – Research Assistant
Research Assistant Ofentse Moseki holds a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) in Natural Resources Management and a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in Crop Science and Production from the University of Botswana (Okavango Research Institute) and Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, respectively. She is a member of Golden Key Southern Africa (GKSA), which enables members to realise their potential through the advancement of academics, leadership and service.
She also scooped an award for outstanding oral presentation: Water, land, energy, and agriculture sub-theme at the 19th WaterNet Symposium held from 30h October – 2 November 2018 in Zambia. She has two publications so far. Ofentse has worked on various projects, including the potential of oil plants for production of biodiesel in Botswana. In her spare time, Ofentse is an entrepreneur and a fitness lover.
Segametsi (Sega) Monnamorwa – Environmental Management Systems, Wilderness Safaris Botswana
Born and bred in Botswana, Segametsi Monnamorwa (known as ‘Sega’) started at Wilderness Safaris ten years ago in an administrative role, and today heads up the Environmental Management Systems (EMS) portfolio for all Wilderness Safaris camps in Botswana.
She completed her Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in Environmental Science, as well as a Postgraduate Diploma in Education, at the University of Botswana. While Sega always had an interest in working for an environmentally-driven organisation, it was not until she was introduced to Wilderness Safaris’ non-profit partner, Children in the Wilderness (CITW) – through an adventure trip to Maun – that she finally found the ideal organisation to work for. She volunteered for a CITW camp in 2007 and the following year took the opportunity to work for Wilderness Safaris. Since 2008 she hasn’t looked back.
Report by Moalosi Lebekwe – CITW Botswana Programme Co-ordinator