The Cactus Patch
Volume 5       June 2002      Number 6

A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

The day after the Maitisong Festival (21 April) friends threw a small party to celebrate my birthday (actually on the 18th). I guess I'm now officially three score. Not letting old age slow me down, I set off on the 24th for Serowe, recollecting a species of Euphorbia listed in the new Flora Zambesiaca as E. limpopoana and in an article I wrote in the Euphorbiaceae Study Group Bulletin as E. aeruginosa. I suspect it is neither and new. I also collected three stapeliads (all common). Next day we wasted three hours getting a new battery, but eventually got to the area between Mopipi and Rakops where the road is being realigned. We rescued plants of Hoodia curorrii, a species which may be endangered as it is being marketed in the States as a weight-loss drug.
On Friday one vehicle stayed in Maun and picked up 7 elephant jaws which have been donated to the museum. I went with the other vehicle and reached Gcwihaba (Drotsky's) Cave in time to join a conference of management consultants and the Vice President, Ian Khama to discuss the future of the area which is a National Monument under our section of the museum, but which may be run by the local San community of Caecae. The VP (son of the late Seretse Khama, 1st president of Botswana) was there with the Botswana Defense Force to open up new caverns which testing reveals are probably in the area. It's really weird to find them under the Kgalagadi. Next morning the museum director and the Permanent Secretary of Labour and Home Affairs arrived and we all toured the shafts the VP is working
on. Later a number of us were in the main cavern of Gcwihaba and came face to face with the legendary cave mouse as reported by Alec Campbell, founder of the museum. We not only confirmed the mouse by sight, but one of the consultants grabbed it (suffering two bites) and we now have it at the museum. It may be a new species. It is a voracious carnivore. I confirmed the report that it eats bats. I gave it one and it consumed the whole thing in two days. I also fed it chicken skin and bones as well as insects. We suspect it eats the crickets, cockroaches and spiders in the cave as well.

We had a brief rest of normal activity back in Gaborone and then on 18 May we celebrated International Museums Day with a parade in the center of town led by mounted "warriors" and "police", stilt walkers and dancing, singing school kids. Among the days' activities was the launch of the museum's new web site:
Botswana National Museum

Earlier in the week I was interviewed on the local radio to explain how globalization effects the environment. (Globalization was the theme of International Museum Day.)

That evening (the 18th) we left the museum program to go to the Annual General Meeting of the Bird Club. (We also had two other things to go to but didn't make.) After electing officers and eating a great supper, we were treated to fantastic pictures of flamingoes. Next morning we went to the town sewage ponds to see a few of them. A few of us then went down to Mokolodi Game reserve for a talk on the fungi of Botswana.

As if we don't have enough to do, they just opened Botswana's first multiplex theater. We tried it out by going to "A Beautiful Mind" - a truly great film. We also continue to attend the local film club. This month they had a great old Australian film "Jeda" about Aborigine/White interactions. When will we ever get to stay home and watch TV? (Mostly American reruns anyway.)

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