Mokolodi Nature Reserve, just outside of Gaborone, was established as a protected area to benefit Botswana youth and natural environment. It is a non-profit charity organization that relies largely on income generation through tourism related activities and on donor support and sponsorship.
As part of an effort to increase the value of the Reserve to the local Gaborone community, Mokolodi introduced cycling to encourage greater use of the Reserve and to create interest amongst a wider spectrum of clientele. Following on from this, the Reserve has also started to make use of mountain bikes to assist with various management activities, including fence patrols, rhino monitoring, facility inspections (pumps, water pipes and solar power installations etc).
In recent years, the reserve has been struggling financially. Under the new dynamic leadership of Park Manager Ian Johnson, changes are happening and a huge effort is being made to introduce new revenue streams. We see bikes as one of those, and we're proud to play a part.
With our partners Rob and Paul in Botswana, we have donated bikes to the park for use by rangers and support staff, and the Bike Shop Gabs is providing free weekly bike maintenance.
The park has begun to embrace cycling as a legitimate tourist attraction, and routes have been cut and built. This has drawn new visitors and revenue to the reserve, it has provided employment, and it has helped to solidify the park's finances.
Mokolodi is also deploying bikes as an effective new anti-poaching tool. Rangers follow game paths, checking for snares and traps. Bike are slower and closer to nature than cars, so rangers can spot traps more effectively, and they can reach areas that a vehicle can not. Poachers are used to running off or lying low when they hear vehicles approaching, so bikes are much more effective at actually catching them.