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Wilderness Safaris hosts screening of Into the Okavango documentary

GOSEGO MOTSUMI

After its first premiere at the Tribeca Festival in New York followed by a world premiere on NatGeo WILD TV last year, Wilderness Safaris hosted a private screening of National Geographic’s deeply moving documentary, Into the Okavango last week at New Capitol cinemas in Gaborone. The documentary chronicles a team of modern day explorers on their first four month expedition across three countries to save the river system that feeds the Okavango Delta.

According to research conducted by the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project (NGOWP) there are growing threats to the delta’s source waters in Angola including the extraction of natural resources and developmental projects throughout the basin that have been spurred mostly by population growth along the rivers. If these threats are unregulated and unmitigated in the long term they may result in irreversible environmental breakdown and the consequent loss of the Okavango watershed.

“The cinematography was world class, amazing! We all now have a responsibility to protect all we just saw and admired. I can assure that not only are we committed as a government to the fact that the Okavango Delta is listed as a 1000th UNESCO World Heritage Site. Even as I travelled and interacted with the Angolan president and deligation I seized every opportunity to talk about the delta. Part of our foreign policy, particularly as it relates to Namibia and Angola, is defined by our commitment to ensuring that we join forces in the protection of the delta. It’s a valid proposition,” said the president of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi at the screening.

Masisi went on to say it is in their interest to protect the delta and grow its value for the benefit of the three countries and further assuring that, “the delta, save for climate change will be with us for a long time.”

Into the Okavango follows an inspiring dream of a South African researcher with extensive work in the Okavango Delta and the founding project director of NGOWP, Steve Boyes who made it his lifetime mission to find the causes of the threats to the Okavango Delta’s source waters and to determine how he can protect the river basin before it gets any worse. Directed by National Geographic Society filmmaker, Neil Gelinas the film features crisp wildlife photography and aerial views that draw the world’s attention to one of the most important areas for biodiversity conservation and the little known and vulnerable wilderness area in the Angolan highlands which the delta depends on.

“All our efforts seek to bring global awareness about the existence of the precious, vast, pure wilderness and through our expedition, studies and observations that we share we aspire to contribute to the sustainable conservation of the area for the long term benefit of the three countries. As of next month we will start screening the documentary around schools in Botswana and I must add that we are in the process of translating it into Setswana,” Boyes said in an interview, adding that their next world premiere will be in Portugal.

Last year December the National Geographic Society and Angolan Ministries of Environment and Tourism signed a protocol of Cooperation committing to a four year partnership to help safeguard the Okavango River basin headwaters located in the Angolan highlands.

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