To Tolankwe’s abun­dance

go! Botswana - - HAINAVELD -

there – at that wa­ter­hole.” He points to a pool about 50 m from the stoep. “The Hainaveld gets a lot more rain than Cen­tral and the area around Ghanzi. It’s greener here – the sterk­bosse grow into mas­sive trees. It’s a spe­cial place, with a mul­ti­tude of birds. We ac­tu­ally have ev­ery­thing here, from antlions to maned lions…” I say good­bye to Braam, drive back to the Kuke fence and fol­low the road fur­ther east to Kuke Cor­ner. Here, the vet­eri­nary fence from Makalam­abedi meets the Kuke fence. This is an im­por­tant cross­roads: You can go through the con­trol point and drive east to Rakops, or you can go south to the Matswere gate into the CKGR. I go north, along the fence to the vil­lage of Makalam­abedi, where I turn west to Tolankwe, a game farm with a camp­site and neat chalets that be­longs to Mar­ius and Gil­lian Viljoen.

The Viljoens are orig­i­nally from South Africa, where Mar­ius worked in the vet­eri­nary medicine in­dus­try. He bought the farm a decade ago. “The day we came here to have a look and I saw wild dogs run­ning across the road, I knew im­me­di­ately that I would buy the farm,” Mar­ius says. “Farm­ers in Botswana are not crazy about wild dogs and leop­ards, and I un­der­stand their po­si­tion, but at Tolankwe we want to let na­ture do its thing.”

Even though he doesn’t work in the vet­eri­nary world any more, Mar­ius is busy re­search­ing a scent that can re­pel leop­ards and wild dogs and keep them away from live­stock. He’s also in­ves­ti­gat­ing how to pre­vent foot-and-mouth dis­ease in buf­falo.

“If we could fix these two prob­lems,” Mar­ius says, “Botswana would be the best place on earth to farm.”

In the mean­time, he and Gil­lian are not go­ing any­where; they’re happy with their slice of heaven in the Hainaveld. As Mar­ius says: “It’s al­ready the best place on earth to live.”

Not ev­ery­one will agree with him, and that’s fine. The point is there should still be places where wild dogs run free, where fences seem out of place and where ve­hi­cle tracks be­come faint in the long grass. Be­cause places of such abun­dant space and si­lence are to be looked af­ter at all costs.

For in­for­ma­tion about Haina Kala­hari Lodge, De­cep­tion Val­ley Lodge and Tolankwe, turn to p 96.

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