10 years ago Bart and his companion drove a landrover from Amsterdam to Capetown, taking the west African route. On their way, especially in the western part of Africa, they were shocked about the state the wildlife was in and decided there must be something done before its completely vanished. Reaching the more southern parts of Africa and seeing how they approach conservation made them realise it’s not too late and with the right efforts there are still goals to achieve. They decided to take part in the good work which Botswana, along with numerous other conservation organisations, are doing to save and restore what’s left.
Biggest threat to wildlife
In our view the biggest threat to wildlife is the human wildlife conflict and the loss of habitat due to overpopulation. Where there are humans, there are cattle, and obviously cattle does not go well with predators. Where there are humans, there is agriculture, and obviously agriculture does not go well having elephants and other grazers around. In the sixties Botswana appointed the Hainaveld, located on the Northern side of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, the area where our conservancy is located, to be cattle farms. By doing so they divided the Hainaveld into 5000ha farms and erected fences around those blocks to keep the cattle in and the wildlife out. As a result, ancient migratory routes were blocked.
Deception Valley Conservancy
Our overall environmental vision at Deception Valley Conservancy is therefore to return previously farmed and hunted land into the wild, natural piece of earth it once was. In 2017 Bart and his companions bought Deception Valley Lodge, the first and oldest Kalahari lodge which was already given back to nature some 20 years ago. The area on which Deception Valley Lodge operates existed of 3 previously cattle farms (total of 15.000 hectare) whose were adjoined and after which fences were removed. In 2019 another 5 adjacent farms (total of 28.000 hectare) were acquired by the owners and once again fences were removed. By doing so they created one of the biggest (43.000hectare) pivately owned game conservancy in Botswana where wildlife can roam freely once again. The visible legacy of the farming days is fast disappearing as we continue to naturalize waterholes, remove old cattle troughs and to cut new bush trails that meander through the veld while allowing arrow-straight cut-line roads to overgrow. Careful management of the bush will be needed to ensure sufficient grazing exists all year round even in the driest periods, and to maintain the right balance of plain areas, woodland and everything in between.
Creating corridors for migration
As said before, in our vision one of the big issues wildlife is curently struggling with are the fences, blocking the ancient migratory routes. We are working in cooperation with other organisations to asses the possibility of creating corridors between key migration areas. The Kalahari was once home to the second biggest (after Masai Mara) migration of wildebeast and after the rains they used to migrate to the Kalahari because of the green and lush grasses on the plains. By creating a corridor between the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and the Makgadikgadi Game Reserve, which will open once again the longest migratory route in the whole of Africa. By doing so this route will stretch all the way from the transfrontier park in South Africa and Namibia (the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park) through the vast Kalahari all the way to the Makgadikgadi pans and from there on to Moremi NP, the Okavango Delta and Chobe NP from where even to the KAZA Transfrontier Park into the Namibian Caprivistrip,Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe National Parks.
Sustainability and low carbon print
At Deception Valley Lodge we strive to keep our footprint as little as possible. We do this by making only use of solarsystems, minimize our waste and growing our own vegetables. At the moment we are looking into options to convert our gamedrive vehicles in to electric.
We are dedicated to preserving endangered species and are working on a project to reintroduce black and white rhino to our conservancy. Over recent years Deception Valley Conservancy worked hard to rehabilitate the environment for predators on our conservancy, and we are proud to say that we now have a wide range of free roaming predators at our conservancy. We have multiple healthy packs of lions, wilddogs, leopards and cheetah as wel as the elusive and heavily endangered brown hyena roaming freely in our area. The highly endangered aardvark, aardwolf and pangolin are also thriving at our conservancy. Future years will see more species reintroductions to continue and rebuild the diversity of this beautiful part of Botswana and returning it back to its natural state.
Anti poaching at Deception Valley Lodge
Botswana takes anti poaching seriously and so does Deception Valley Conservancy. We have well equipped units who actively patrol the conservancy. Our focus is on protecting endangered species and keeping them in their wild habitat. Were currently discussing measures, with adjacent reserves as well as the farmers in the Hainaveld, to keep the Kalahari predators in the reserve and the bordering CKGR and to prevent them from roaming into the conflict areas where cattle meets wildlife and where they subsequently will get shot or poisoned. In our vision the best way to achieve this will be that the reserves on the northern boundary of the Kalahari will act as a barrier between the farms in the north and the stretch less Kalahari in the south. Therefore, the northern boundary needs to be electrified over the whole length between the tar road near Rakops to the tar road Ghanzi-Maun, a stretch of approximately 200km.