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Galaxy , Mary’s ‘poler’, navigates the rich ecosystem of the inland delta (Credit: Mary Holland)

Botswana’s government-led anti-poaching unit has become a model for conservation in Africa

“If you provoke them, they will provoke you. If you respect them, they will respect you. With hippos, there are rules,” says Galaxy. He’s referring to the giant mammals that are haphazardly popping their heads out the water, just like the Hungry Hungry Hippos game.

Galaxy is a “poler”. He’s been navigating the Okavango Delta waterways by mokoro (traditional dugout canoe) for over 20 years – something his parents did, too. During the annual flood season, mokoro is the only mode of transport for many locals.

He also partakes in the annual mokoro race, which takes place on 20 October each year and aims to integrate cultural tourism – sharing traditional transportation, art, entertainment and games – with the more popular wildlife tourism. “In Botswana we are proud of tourism,” he tells me as we glide through the reeds past the grunting of the hippos, the dust of the buffalo and the swishing of the distant elephants.

Read the full article on Botswana’s high-quality, low-impact tourism model here.

By Marry Holland for The Independent.

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