To Tolankwe’s abundance
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.