Sustainable Travel in Botswana

This landlocked country in Southern Africa has just over two million people, making it one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. Its human history reaches back more than 100,000 years, when early ancestors, whose descendants today are the San (Bushman) and Khoi peoples, inhabited the region. Tsodilo Hills, a stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site co-managed by the Botswana Government and the local community, displays more than 4,500 prehistoric rock paintings spread over 200 locations. Botswana supports a diversity of ecosystems and wildlife, from the famed Okavango Delta to the Kalahari Desert, with miles of grasslands, savanna, salt pans, and other dramatic landscapes. Most of the great wildlife found in southern Africa is represented here, including lions, leopards, cheetahs, giraffes, zebras, hippos, African buffalo, hyenas, and 22 species of antelope. In Botswana, whether on a classic Africa safari, an up-close walking safari or staying in luxury tented camps with opportunities to sleep out in the open, you will be surrounded by nature at her very best.

What are they doing right?

Botswana has been a sustainable tourism leader in Africa and serves as a model to the world for its forward-thinking policies regarding tourism, and its early adoption of ecotourism policies and practices. It established a National Ecotourism Strategy in 2002 and has implemented a robust eco-certification scheme that is based on globally recognized sustainable tourism criteria. Serving as a bulwark against the wave of poaching that has engulfed many parts of Africa, Botswana has established sanctuaries to protect Africa's iconic wildlife, and in particular has been a conservation leader for the last large free-roaming elephant herds on the continent and for major efforts to protect endangered species, including rhinos. The President of Botswana established the Thlokomela Wildlife Trust to raise money to support these conservation efforts, and the country successfully partners with private sector tourism companies, conservation NGOs, and local communities to ensure that tourism delivers meaningful benefits to rural economic development and protecting nature.

The Elephant Ranking

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The country has achieved international recognition as an innovative leader in sustainable tourism, the government is actively engaged in implementing or has already implemented a national sustainable tourism development plan, multi-stakeholders are engaged in ongoing dialogue for taking best practices to a higher level. Progress towards sustainability goals are evaluated, measured and monitored for improvement and ongoing success.

Botswana is covered primarily by the Kalahari Desert. This semi-desert supports more wildlife than a true desert because it has expanses of grasslands after the rains. Botswana is one of the most sparsely populated countries in Africa, but that is changing, which makes it even more important to protect its extraordinary wildlife. Northern Botswana has one of the few remaining sizeable populations of the endangered African wild dog, while Chobe National Park has the world's largest concentration of wild free- roaming African elephant herds. And the Khama Rhino Sanctuary protects endangered black and white rhino species, an ambitious effort to protect this iconic species from extinction.

Why the Elephant Ranking?