The town of Kasane in North-Eastern Botswana ranks as one of the most popular destinations in Southern Africa. Situated on the banks of the majestic Chobe River and a stone's throw away from the Chobe National Park, within easy reach of Victoria Falls, Makgadikgadi Pans, and the Okavango Delta, it is an essential component of any African adventure.
Standard itineraries include game-drives, river cruises, bird-watching, fishing, and plenty of time by the pool, but what else does this town have to offer? What family-friendly activities are available in between game-viewing and sumptuous meals on the river-front? Are there any activities that cater specifically to children?
Enter CARACAL's World of Wildlife. This not-for-profit organisation runs an animal rescue and environmental education facility five minutes from the center of town. Botswanan wildlife consists far more than lion, buffalo and elephant, and visitors to the World of Wildlife are offered the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of Botswana's smaller, but no less interesting or important, furry, scaled and feathered creatures.
CARACAL's (Centre for Conservation of African Resources: Animals, Communities and Land use) mission revolves around conservation education, and the World of Wildlife houses a collection of injured and orphaned animals whose complete rehabilitation and release is impossible due to the severity of their wounds. They are useful educationally, though, and each animal in the collection acts as something of an ambassador for their species. They are the poster-children both for CARACAL's ongoing conservation efforts, and for the important roles played by each of them in Botswana's rich, diverse and complex ecosystems.
The center's friendly and knowledgeable staff provide an entertaining and informative interactive tour of the collection of birds, reptiles and small mammals. The standard package is noteworthy for its inclusion of conservation and environmental information that is most often absent from visitors' experiences of Botswanan wildlife and ecology. Guests are informed not only about the individual history of each animal, but about the role it plays in the complex web of interactions that define an ecosystem. This is natural history at its absolute best, and the World of Wildlife staff stand ready to provide a wealth of information.
The exact content of each tour will tend to vary with the arrival and departure of rescued animals. By far the most popular part, though, is the reptile collection, which comprises an impressive assortment of venomous and non-venomous snakes. The former can be safely viewed through the glass fronts of their vivariums, while some of the latter can be taken out and handled. It is this kind of close-contact with the World of Wildlife's animals, not confined to reptiles alone, which sets it apart as one of the Chobe regions most unique and rewarding experiences.
Responsible travellers take heed: by visiting the World of Wildlife, each and every guest contributes towards conservation in the Chobe region. Entrance fees and donations subsidize the upkeep, care, and accommodation of the World of Wildlife's animal ambassadors, the maintenance and construction of their custom-tailored habitats, and the ongoing efforts of its dedicated team in the fields of conservation education, research, and community engagement. This is not just a place to visit, in other words; it is an opportunity to be a part of something truly special - and to learn a thing or two while you're at it.