Update on the S.O.S. (Save our Sausage Tree) project

For almost 2 years now, Sunway Safaris and Planet Okavango in conjunction with the Ditsipi community have developed the S.O.S (Save Our Sausage Trees) Project. We are happy to say that it is now bearing fruit. Not in the form a Sausage, but an object of similar shape – fibreglass mekoro.

The MOKORO is the traditional means of transport for the people of the Okavango Delta in Botswana. For the adventure seeker, gliding through the Okavango Delta in a mokoro with a local guide, is the essence of the Okavango experience. But behind this serene experience there lies a disturbing environmental impact.

With the increase in tourism to Botswana over the last 20 years the number of mekoro polers earning a living from tourism has increased. This has been beneficial to the communities living within the Okavango Delta and by 2009 there are estimated to be over 2000 mekoro in the Okavango region. Each mokoro is cut from a single mature Kigelia Africana tree (Sausage Tree). 
The root of the problem is that a wooden mekoro lasts perhaps only 5 years before it rots and falls apart. Therefore to build new mekoro, roughly 400 trees must be felled each year and there just aren’t enough trees to sustain this.

The local communities of the Okavango are aware of the problem – largely because they now struggle to find trees big enough for mekoro. Each year we have witnessed smaller new mekoro (meaning younger trees are cut down) and old mekoro being used beyond their reasonable life (meaning leaks and multiple plastic patches).

The solution to this environmental issue is to use fibreglassmekoro. Sunway has consulted with the community and they have agreed that should a poler buy a fiberglass mokoro, then the poler will pay 50% of the cost and Sunway the other 50%.

In order to help each individual poler raise the funds to cover the 50%cost of the fibreglass mekoro – through their generous donations,  Sunway Safaris’ clients & agents have aided some polers in obtaining their fibreglass mekoro.     

Towards the end of November 2011 five very happy and proud polers received their brand new mekoro.

  1. Itumeleng Batshabeng (Qween)
  2. Kubushabi Sampofo (Rosina)
  3. Bogale Manga (Charls)
  4. Tumeletso Oja
  5. Gositwang Molaemang (Qween)

Congratulations to all of the polers for their hard work during the season with our groups and we look forward to the next delivery of fibreglass mekoro to more members of the Ditsipi community.

We are proud to be part of this important project, and if you would like to contribute to the polers fund, please contact the Sunway Safaris office.

Wish you all a very merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Sunway Safaris