Botswana: Redemption in Conservation

Leatile Kowa has found his place with nature

VICTORIA MARUMO

editors@thepatriot.co.bw

29-year-old Leatile Kowa has found a place to call home in the tourism and hospitality sector of Botswana. The elephant whisperer as some have nick named him has worked a series of informal jobs before landing his role as an Elephant handler in a conservation camp called Elephant Havens Wildlife Foundation in the outskirts of Maun. He is also an upcoming travel agent working towards owning a portion of the delta by providing travel tips and service to tourists who are interested in visiting the Okavango delta.

Being a conservationists came as work in a conservation camp focused specifically on the conservation and preservation of African elephants. "My love for elephants is amazing and I'm proud to have made a huge impact in the lives of people who didn't know much about elephants," he said. Kowa further explained that tourists see some light in him and a fun realization he stumbled upon is women's secret admiration for elephants. "Elephants needs love and being around them won't be a problem. Working with elephants added more value to my personal brand," he mentioned. Passionate in his role and relationship with the majestic creatures, Kowa said he has no regrets with the path he has chosen to follow.

Born in Thamaga from to a family of four, Kowa did his junior and senior studies at Thamaga Western Primary and Letlole Mosielele Junior Secondary School respectively. In an unfortunate turn of events however, he was unable to pursue any form of tertiary education. "This was a sad thing to me but it was not the end of the world. Since I didn't not go to tertiary school, I worked in different jobs in the informal sector" he mentioned.

Kowa switched between working for a car wash to driving school and farming. His luck would change when he started working at Bull & Bush as a bartender paving the way for his journey in hospitality and tourism industry. "I started having interests in tourism because every day you meet new people with different cultures and personalities. So, i worked on how I interact with other people in way it will make them welcome and work for me," he explained. In a positive turn of events, Kowa was taken for a bartending course in 2015 ran by Bar Star Academy sponsored by Benju Wine & Spirits Distributors: this worked in his favor because he was accredited with a Professional Bartending Certificate.

The certificate expanded Kowa's networking in the hospitality industry because and played a huge role in securing at job in Avani Hotels Casino and Resorts in 2016. The experience was short lived and, in his bravery, Kowa moved to Maun to pursue his interest in tourism. He has amassed a rich history having worked in getaway destinations like Abu Camp in the delta which is a Wilderness Safaris camp, Cresta Maun, Botshelo Hotel and other restaurants to mention a few.

Covid-19 came in like a storm but the experience has taught Kowa not to rely on a single source of income. "The fortunate thing is that I am working with people who understands the industry better than I do: like Tadala Travel & Tours, My Okavango Adventure and Moments with Scarlett, a Tourism Lifestyle Blogger based in Maun and Kgowe Adventure Safaris in Kasane. With these guys as we work together, I would say that the future is bright. 6. At the moment like I said that I work as Elephant Handler but only left with few days working with elephants. I already mentioned that I am an upcoming travel agent and I am ready to face the new challenge.

His prospects for the future include working with big brands like Brand Botswana and Botswana Tourism Organization to represent the country in tourism sectors internationally. "I am also really looking forward to working with other Southern Africa travel agents/bloggers and Lodges like Explore with Tumi and Tshephang Lobete from South Africa as well as Tina Shange & Gondwana Lodges from Namibia," he added.

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