Big things are happening at Thamo Telele in the frontier town of Maun, and all eyes are on this intimate lodge for World Giraffe Day on June 21st.
When the lodge joined the Natural Selection family we got to work on a stylish new refurb with giraffes at its core. Safari soul shines out through the 250 hectare reserve that surrounds Thamo Telele but what stands even prouder than the lodge’s smart new look is the resident herd of giraffe. There are 19 of these stately ungulates here and they represent the love for giraffes and their welfare that we hope to inspire in our guests, and they’re also at the heart of our conservation efforts here.
Our work in giraffe conservation falls into two areas: education and research. The projects at Thamo Telele are led by our rather brilliant giraffe scientists Katie Ahl and Emma Wells who came across to join Natural Selection from Giraffe Conservation Foundation, with whom we work at Hoanib Valley Camp in Namibia, and who also happen to have launched World Giraffe Day.
Emma and Katie are passionate about giraffe and are excellent communicators, revelling in spending time with our guests and explaining the finer points of each individual. The giraffe can be seen while enjoying the other activities on offer here, such as walking, horse riding and cycling, but to really focus on them, don’t miss spending time up close and personal as they come to feed and drink at the waterhole each evening. The experience is on the giraffe’s terms, much like meeting the meerkats from our Kalahari who are also free to come and go as they please and have control over the interactions.
Guests can learn each giraffe by its Setswana name and how to identify them by their unique pattern. If in doubt and without a guide or naturalist on hand, there are identification books at the lodge and the waterhole to help you get it right. The resident conservation scientists are so dedicated to giraffe conservation that it’s easy to forget you’re learning until you find a multitude of giraffe facts to pluck from your grey matter. Which is fortunate, because education is vital to our work. A deeper understanding of the plight of giraffes helps to develop empathy, which is one of the most important factors in predicting an individual’s willingness to take conservation action. It is our hope that everyone who spends time here will leave with a true affection for giraffe and ambition to support their future. A close interaction with a large, charismatic species is incredibly impactful.
“Visiting the giraffe at Thamo Telele’s waterhole allows our guests the opportunity to view these often overlooked, unique ungulates,” notes Emma. “Guests are able to closely observe the giraffe displaying their natural behaviours. We hope each guest leaves with a deeper love and appreciation for giraffe and that they become advocates for conservation and positive change in the world. A portion of each guest’s stay supports the Botswana giraffe DNA research survey through Giraffe Conservation Foundation, which will help the Botswana government make informed decisions about giraffe population management and conservation.”
Our vision is that Thamo Telele will become even more of a beating heart in the world of giraffe conservation when The Giraffe Education Programme sets up an education centre here. This new centre will provide an impactful conservation experience for both tourists and locals, raising awareness of the plight of giraffe and the natural environment. A large part of the centre’s work will focus on community engagement through educational classes, school visits and community outreach. We recognise that it is imperative to the future of giraffe conservation that those who live alongside these endangered animals understand and care about them and the habitat they require.
The second area our work here will focus on genetic research. The Giraffe Genetic Testing Programme is designed to support much needed research into the taxonomy and distribution of giraffe in Botswana. We will be working alongside the Giraffe Conservation Foundation on this research, as they’ve spent the past 15 years collating genetic samples from giraffe all over Africa for taxonomic assessment. This work has already shone a light upon how many different species of giraffe there are and where each is found, and the new information guides conservation management decisions for the species, highlighting the most acute conservation need. Our work will support GCF’s genetic sampling in Botswana, expanding our understanding of the populations here and informing local and regional conservation strategies.
We’ll be spending World Giraffe Day marvelling at these otherworldly creatures and reminding ourselves just how fortunate we are to enjoy such close encounters with them here at Thamo Telele.
Please follow this link to support our work in giraffe conservation.
To experience and learn more about giraffe conservation come and stay with us at Thamo Telele.
To find out more about Giraffe Conservation Foundation and their work throughout Africa, please follow this link:
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