Central Kalahari Research Group

Project LocationKalahari Game Reserve , Botswana
Project TypeEndangered species protection
Endangered SpeciesAfrican wild dog, lion, brown hyena, cheetah, white backed and hooded vultures
Benefiting Locally4,000
Local People Employed6

Central Kalahari Research Group

The Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) and the wider Kalahari is a vast ecosystem, containing abundant and diverse wildlife that is presently under significant threat. The absence of income from high-end ecotourism in the Kalahari means that the region is increasingly competing with other land use practices. At present, there are increasing numbers of cattle farms and mining activities on the boundaries as well as growing levels of poaching within the reserve.

The Central Kalahari and Makgadikgadi research team consists of a group of scientists and conservationists who are studying and monitoring the wildlife and ecosystem of the region in an effort to provide research based information for developing conservation policies and actions. The research team, founded in 2009, strives to better understand the survival techniques and behaviour of wildlife in the Kalahari and promotes a holistic approach to preservation of this plentiful ecosystem.

In the 1980’s, wildlife research in Botswana was on the upsweep. However, the vast majority of the research was being conducted by students from overseas, most of whom left Botswana when their research was completed. Today, although there has been some improvement, overseas researchers continue to dominate wildlife research in Botswana. The CKGR research team strongly believes that long-term, sustainable conservation has to come from within, and, therefore, gives young Batswana people the opportunity and training to become good researchers and, ultimately, good conservationists.

The project’s primary goal is to generate information that promotes understanding of the Kalahari environment and the elements that regulate this remote and massive ecosystem. Particular attention is paid to factors that are fundamental to wildlife survival, such as the seasonal distribution of food and water, the availability of important resources such as habitat used for breeding, and access to mating partners. By learning about the ecology and behaviour of key wildlife species in the region and the threats to their survival, including loss of habitat, fence erection, disease, and human-wildlife conflict, the research group is better able to understand the solutions to these threats. The wildlife species studied by this group are; wild dogs, lions, lappet-faced vultures, cheetah, wildebeest and brown hyenas.

Education Programme

The CKGR research group also incorporates an education programme, involving both adults and young children living adjacent to the protected areas of the CKGR and the Makgadikgadi region. The group takes school children from local villages into the Makgadikgadi National Park. They are currently expanding this community work and, in collaboration with NGO’s, are planning to build and run community youth centres in several villages located on the edge of the study area.

African Wild Dog Research

When the CKGR research group began, the only information available on African wild dogs was that they were occasionally seen by local residents. As a result, the wild dogs became a central focus of the group's research. It is now known that the African wild dog has been removed from 88% of its former range and that the total population is estimated to be no more than 2,500 mature individuals. Ongoing dangers such as human-wildlife conflict, infectious disease and further habitat fragmentation mean that the remaining populations are under threat of further decline. The CKGR is highly significant as it is home to the largest connected wild dog population left within Africa.

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