The Cactus Patch
Volume 4       August 2001      Number 8

Southern & Kgalagadi Districts Trip
A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

In May I went to the top of Botswana (on the way back from Tsodilo we detoured up to Mahembo (49km or 30mi N from Nxamasere) and rode the ferry across and back on the Okavango River). June took me to the SW corner. Four of us, Queen Turner [herbarium], Diphoteng Moseyane [botanic garden], Moffat Sebogo [Univ. Botswana] and I used the SABONET (Southern Africa Biodiversity Network) vehicle to collect plants. Starting on the 3rd we went to Jwaneng (177 km or 110 mi W of Gaborone) and toured the game reserve that now surrounds the diamond mine there. Then it was on to Khakea (another 133 km or 82.6 km S) for the night. In the morning we collected at Khakea Pan: Androcymbium lilies blooming in the calcrete, Zygophyllum and Lycium bushes on the short cliffs. Then it was off to Tshabong (another 220 km or 137 mi S) for the second night. (This brought us from the southern District to Kgalagadi District.) Next morning we met with the land board to explain Environmental Impact Assessments. We also looked (unsuccessfully) for a Stapelia which Desmond Cole reports from there and suggests might be S. grandiflora, a species otherwise unknown for Botswana. We did find Tetragonia calycina in fruit. Then it was off to Bokspits at the far SW corner of Botswana. The clinic we stayed at had Aloe hereoensis but when we tried to find it next morning we failed. We did find Tridenta marientalensis and Euphorbia bergii, however.

We then drove 53 km (33 mi) N to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park now shared with South Africa. (Actually, the border was pretty open even in 1991 when I was there before, but now it is official.) After lunch in South Africa we went back to Andrew Villander's farm just South of the Park. He is excellent on plants and recommended "The Kalahari and its Plants" by van der Walt & le Riche. His copy was in Afrikaans, but I bought an English copy (obviously translated and with some over-exposed pictures) at the Park. His two farm hands were excellent guides, showing us an edible and nonedible stapeliad and a species of Jatropha new to me which is used for "thickening" blood (it has a red sap). On the 7th we drove back to Tshabong and on the 8th went N 240 km (149 mi) via Mabuasehube Division of the Transfrontier Park to Hukuntsi. Next day we toured the pans in that area and found a pinker Androcymbium, Huernia longituba, Duvalia polita, Aloe transvaalensis etc.

On the 10th we returned to Gaborone (510 km or 317 mi E). Polly arrived on the 16th and despite being dead tired went to see a program featuring Steve Dyer (south African jazz musician we know) with the Tumbuka dance troupe from Zimbabwe and art by Ann Gollifer (a local artist). On the 21st there was an eclipse of the sun (total at Lusaka, but 69% here) so we had school kids and adults at the garden for safe viewing. Next month was a "trial" and the great grey greasy. More later.

The book "Kalahari and its Plants" was published in 1999 in Pretoria by the authors.

We looked for Aloe hereoensis after returning to Bokspits and found hundreds of dead stalks. Was this poachers, disease, donkeys? Who knows. Eventually we found a guide who took us to one live plant which, fortunately, had a dozen heads so we were able to take one head without removing the whole population.

The road from Tshabong to the Transfrontier Park was graded dirt and the road from Tshabong to Hukuntsi was a sand track requiring heavy plowing. All else was paved.

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