Saturday, March 4, 2017

Power rangers: Botswana's all-electric safari

Power rangers: Botswana's all-electric safari
After yesterday featuring an article about how Shamwari Game Reserve in South Africa was using electric vehicles for it's game drives, I did a little bit more searching and came across this 2014 article from CNN. They report on how Chobe national park in Botswana are now using converted electric Land Rovers for their game drives.
Chobe Game Lodge, located inside the national park on Botswana's northern border with Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, launched what it describes as the world's first electric safari fleet in late November. The lodge is rolling out both electric game drive vehicles -- retrofitted Land Rovers -- and electric boats, for game-viewing cruises along the Chobe River.
Antony English, co-owner of Freedom Won, the South African company that converts the Land Rovers, echoes the sentiments I expressed in yesterdays blog post.
The converted Land Rovers are rugged and perform well on Chobe's sandy trails. The first vehicle put into operation -- our ride for the day -- has been dubbed "Freedom 3." "Most of you will have been on a game drive, and you would have had to put up with the diesel motor and the noise, and the vibration and smoke," English says.  
Not only is Chobe converting it's Land Rover fleet to electricity, EV parking bays have been put in place at Kasane International Airport, as the lodge intends using electric Land Rovers to ferry guests the 15 kms to and from the airport.

The lodge are also running electric boats on the Chobe river.
On a late-afternoon river cruise, we experience the sounds of silence again. As our electric boat turns a bend, we spot a herd of elephants tentatively coming down to the river for a drink of water. An African fish eagle sits motionless as we glide by. A crocodile basking on the shore's edge doesn't move either, until a grumpy elephant decides to chase it away. We sit watching and listening to the elephants as dusk settles over the Chobe River. 
Unfortunately the authors final game drive of their visit to Chobe was in a yet to be converted diesel vehicle.
But the next morning is a rude awakening: back to a bumpy old diesel-fueled Land Rover for our final game drive through the park. Our guide catches sight of a Jacobin Cuckoo and we pull up to get a better look, our diesel motor roaring. The bird flees. My seatmate puts down his camera, grumbling: "It would still be there if we were in the electric vehicle."

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