This year, we arranged our team-building trip as a camping expedition to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park – an area thought to have more cheetahs than any other in Botswana. The various teams made the long trek to a beautiful campsite in Mabuasehube. Ghanzi camp coordinator, Phale Max Seele, was our camp guide and was quickly dubbed “Ranger Max” due to his guiding expertise. Fitting 13 staff and 13 tents into one campsite was a challenge that the whole team rose to. But it was the addition of Tebogo as our camp cook and her deliciously cooked meals like the eland seswaa (pounded meat) dish she served for breakfast and the mincemeat-filled magwenyas (bread dumplings), certainly made the trip so much more enjoyable. Thanks to such culinary delights, she has single-handedly raised the bar of a camping experience for all staff!
The team was incredibly lucky during the 3-day, 2-night trip to see a bevy of wildlife. Highlights included a pride of lions we saw hiding quite effectively in the long grass (the first that some had ever seen) and a spotted hyena wandering through the campsite, stealing people’s shoes from outside their tents. Watching Max and Kokole running through the bush at daybreak chasing after the aforementioned hyena as it made off with one of our brand-new blankets was a sight the evoked both joy and unity. The pinnacle of the trip though was seeing a cheetah outside of the park on the cut line back to the A2 highway.
The team-building trip was followed by our mid-year review meeting which saw our entire staff group converge on the Ghanzi field camp and education centre to consider the progress made and challenges encountered in meeting the targets we’d set ourselves for the year, and consider changes to those plans for the last half of 2022.
One exhilarating development is that we recently finalized the purchase of some land in the northern Ghanzi ranchlands. This is the first land purchase for CCB, as we have been renting the farm in Ghanzi since 2008. The new farm is 16 hectares of pristine bushland with an existing smallstock kraal/enclosure, vegetable garden, house, boreholes, small solar system and campsite. Our aim is to spend the next couple of years developing the farm and moving our cheetah camp from its current location on the western farms, to this plot further north.
There are several benefits to having our own property. As well as being a good long-term investment, we will save on the rent we currently pay each month, reduce on the vehicle maintenance for not having to drive down the long gravel road from town to camp daily, and invest in infrastructure and a land use plan that is fit for purpose. Having our current camp situated on rented land meant that we were unable to build permanent buildings – with higher maintenance costs resulting from the semi-permanent structures. On the new farm, we will be able to build permanent offices, self-contained accommodation for our staff and even some accommodation for visitors. We will be rebuilding our cheetah rehabilitation enclosure and education centre so that we can continue our important work – all within a few minutes of the A3 highway with easy access to Ghanzi and our other target communities. We are excited about this new big step for CCB and the new opportunities it will bring!