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Chris Bonner and his wife Marelle live on a farm in the beautiful Scenic Rim of South East Queensland where Chris uses his camera to showcase the scenery and wildlife of the area. Besides wider Australian travels, he has also produced a portfolio of pictures from across the world including  the wildlife of Africa to e magic of the Amazon to the history and beauty of Europe.  While Chris' primary motivation is to share his experiences, photos are available for sale in digital or print format. 

All profits from photo sales go to a Cambodian charity www.newhopecambodia.com. Non-profit organisations may apply to receive free photos for Promotion or Fundraising.

Botswana Travelogue: Royal Tree Lodge and Tuskers Camp.

Our African Adventure started at Royal Tree Lodge in Botswana, a landlocked country sitting above South Africa and which has stood out amongst the African nations with its impressive economic growth due to diamonds and a rather uniquely popular leader and a stability harking back to the 1980’s when Botswana’s with Senegal represented the only examples of multi-party democracy in a continent renowned for its dictators, one-party presidents, corruption and brutal civil rights abuses (Martin Meredith: The Fortunes of Africa).

More on this matter at the end of this Travelogue for those interested and an insight as to why Botswana has emerged from the past better than its neighbours, demonstrating that the post-independence political mayhem was avoidable. Royal Tree Lodge is a small private Game Park donated by a German industrialist to Jerry Lackey who with his wife Jana have been missionaries in Northern Botswana for 30 years, and who recently visited our church in Brisbane.

Lovely to walk amongst the giraffes but not too close. Their kick can be lethal. Zebras providing each other with a pillow for siesta. We wondered how these animals who seem not all that spritely don’t all get eaten by the big cats.

They can however outpace them if they have a head start and besides have a serious kick. Apparently when in a mob the stripes prevent the predator from isolating a target. Research has however proposed a role in thermoregulation with the contrasting stripes generating small scale breezes.

Tuskers Bush Camp lies in a massive 365 000 hectare private concession called the Kwatale Conservancy just over an hour’s drive from Maun and provided a 2 day stopover on the way to Okavango Delta another 5 hours drive away.

The roads are spine snapping bush tracks but the compensation is having a 9 seater Troop Carrier to ourselves and few other tourists to bother us or be bothered by us.  Evening game drives end with a magical happy hour with the setting sun as backdrop.

Botswana, formerly a trophy hunting destination banned hunting in 2014 and now has one of the highest conservation land ratios in Africa with more than 25 percent of the land area set aside for parks and reserves.

The government's policy of low volume high cost tourism combined with inaccessibility limits the number of visitors, and provides tourists with space not available in game parks in other countries. In our next communication, we will detail how Botswana has handled poaching, and hence animals are border hopping into Botswana, and in some cases as with Rhinos, being transported in for protection.

They now say there are too many elephants in Botswana and while a tourist’s delight they are seriously destructive. The bush around Tuskers looks like it has been scrub pulled.

Besides their ugliness, Warthogs amuse us by their total indifference to our presence. The one in the photo trotted within metres with utter distain. The "warts," on their head are actually protective bumps. Their meat is served in restaurants, and yes we indulged to find it surprisingly tender and tasty, and not dissimilar to beef. Maybe that’s why Lions are their major predator. Young Impalas, here practicing the skills they will later need to win rights to the harem. Impalas are Africa’s Kangaroos. Road kill and a favourite for the carnivores.

Lechwe. Lechwe are found in marshy areas that provide protection from predators. Their legs are covered in a water-repellant substance which allows them to run quite fast in knee-deep water. While enjoying the diversity of African wildlife, one learns to appreciate the amazing ways animals have come to adapt to their environment.

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A male and female Kudu. The boys are seriously impressive but actually quite mild mannered. If their antlers happen to lock up when they do fight they can dehydrate and starve to death. Mrs Kudu lacks antlers but those ears suggest they don’t miss much. Their meat features in restaurants.

Teasing out the history of the African nations with their complex colonial, commercial and tribal influences, wars and murders is not easy but I will give Botswana, which like its neighbours got mixed up with the British and the Boers and Cecil Rhodes, a go which might help explain its economic and cultural success as a nation and explain how things went so wrong with its neighbours.

From the 1820s the Boers began their Great Trek north, confident that they had heaven-sanctioned rights to any land they might choose to occupy in southern Africa and crossed into Tswana. The “Bo”tswana were rather irked by this attitude and when the Boers got physical in 1885, the Tswana sought and received protection from the British. Consequently, the British, who called it Bechuanaland, decided to be a bit nice for a change and governed Botswana as a Protectorate for 70 years.

Meanwhile their King, Khama the Great (1837-1923) converted to Christianity, and built a united Botswana nation by bringing together many Tswana tribes. The southern part of Botswana was intended for incorporation into the Cape Colony for the benefit of Cecil John Rhodes of the British South Africa Company. But the Tswana Chiefs were not unique, but smarter than others in not trusting Rhodes who further angered the British, by attacked settlers of the Transvaal area, completing his cause of angering everyone in the course of attempting to own all of Africa. Incidentally it has taken all this time for the University of Cape Town to pull down a statue of Rhodes.

Further, when South Africa formed a union and subsequently instituted apartheid, the chiefs of Botswana refused to ever be part of South Africa and the British, who had got over being big bullies, agreed. In 1964 Botswana got on its way to form a democratic self-government and avoided the nasty business that eventuated with its neighbours.

It shines as one of only three amongst the 50 African states that in the course of 150 elections held in 29 countries between 1960 and 1989 allowed opposition parties to win a single seat. Botswana’s first president, Seretse Khama, descended from Botswana royalty, went to study in England after World War 2 where he met and married an Englishwoman.

As this was a no-no for the not so nice British, he was deposed and exiled in 1950 but later returned to become the country's first president in 1966, and remained so until his death in 1980. His son, Ian Khama is of course of mixed race and has been the President of Botswana from 2008. He effectively renounced his hereditary chieftaincy, as the monarchs of Botswana are legally barred from actively taking part in party politics, but he is widely regarded as a King and President and a very popular one at that.

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