|Barbara Curtis with |
students Tumie Mothibi
and Masego Kruger.
After two full days of data entry, fact checking and discussion, AquaRAP scientists presented their preliminary observations last night to a roomful of citizens at the Maun Lodge. With the conclusion of this meeting comes the end of our adventure in the Okavango Delta. The first team members were shuttled to the airport this morning.
But as we go our separate ways, we realize that the real work of this journey has just begun. The scientists will spend the next two weeks studying their data and drawing conclusions, communicating by e-mail and telephone. Within a few weeks, we'll post a preliminary report of their findings. Then, within a year, a comprehensive summary will be printed and distributed.
This data will be important as the Delta comes under increasing pressure from human populations and their needs. I asked Leeanne Alonso, director of CI's RAP program, how she hopes this data will be used. "RAP is about promoting conservatio n of the areas we survey," she said. "In the case of the Delta, the AquaRAP results can be used to support a management plan being developed by the government of Botswana."
The data will also be shared with local communities,
|The fish team discusses findings. |
educating them about the Delta's biodiversity and the need to protect it. The involvement of local government representatives in the Water Affairs and Fisheries divisions will help ensure that the data gets into the hands of those who are already on the ground, working to balance the needs of people and the environment. And the linkages formed among young local scientists and some of the world's most renowned experts will help build an ongoing support system for the Delta.
Some of these outcomes will take time to come to fruition. But another is more immediate: the Delta has made passionate advocates of all of us who visited here. All 25 of us leave this vast and wonderful place with our hearts full of awe. There is life here beyond measure in the middle of a vast desert. As I leave here, already planning my return, I hope the Delta remains as pure and wild as it is today. The work of the AquaRAP team makes an important contribution toward this end. May the threespot bream, slaty egret, and apple snail long thrive in this miraculous place!
LEARN MORE: View the preliminary results.
IN DEPTH: Download the full report (PDF - 4.84 MB).
– Reported by Clare Nielsen
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