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Photographer's Note

Negotiating the water wilderness of the Okavango Delta in Botswana requires a craft that is suitable for the intricate, and often overgrown, channels as well as the open floodplains. The people who lived in the delta before the advent of tourism in the area used wooden canoe-like craft carved from the stems of trees found in the delta.
The mokoro is controlled by a person standing in the back of the craft and using a long, thin wooden pole to steer the mokoro. Safari guests sit one or two-up in front of the poler. In the present day tourism lingo the mokoro controller is known as a poler.

Mokoros are carved from the trunks of three species of trees occurring in the Okavango Delta. The length of the makoros meant that large trees had to be sought for the making of one craft.
The local people of the delta used the mokoro for hunting, fishing and transportation of goods – and although still used for these purposes the trait is slowly giving away to the march of westernization into the area. Today most mokoros are used in the tourism industry, with many of the hunters and fishermen now employed as ‘polers’ by the safari companies.
Due to the steep rise in tourism activity in the Okavango in recent years fears were expressed about the dangers posed to the environment by the number of trees needed to provide mokoros for the tourism market. A solution was found with the production of custom-built fiber-glass versions of the original mokoro. So successful has the project been that even traditional fishermen in the delta are using the new versions. All lodges in the delta use the new version of mokoro today.
Statistically responsible for the most human deaths in Africa every year the hippo poses a threat to any unsuspecting mokoro in the waterways of the Okavango and many polers can attest to the dangers posed by hippos. (From Internet)

The days spent in Okavango delta, camping i n wild on the small island, trips with mokoro, were a highlight of my African trip. The polers were very nice guys, very friendly and helpful, explained us what the life in delta was. In the evening, by the fire, they danced and singed for us. The guy on the photo made by himself this "crown". He showed us also the skull of the lion who injured him. Well, he survived, the lion didn't. We were happy to have them as guides and they also have fun with us as you can see in WS.
Aha, we saw many hippos while sitting in mokoro, and one showed us his open jaws only a few meter of us. it was thrilling!!

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Additional Photos by Malgorzata Kopczynska (emka) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4970 W: 81 N: 12503] (73437)
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