George Sekonya 250x250

George Sekonya

Masters Student

An examination of the value chain and livelihoods linked to the cross-border trade of mopane worm between Botswana and South Africa
Supervisors: Assoc Prof Rachel Wynberg and Jaci van Niekerk

I am an MPhil Environment, Society and Sustainability student in the EGS Department at UCT. I hold a Bachelor of Environmental Management (Hons) degree with majors in Ecology and Geography from the University of Venda. I grew up in the rural village of Bogalatladi, Ga-Kgoshi Sekhukhune in Limpopo Province. As a rural boy, if I wasn’t harvesting edible wild fruits in the bushes and mountains, then fishing and swimming in the Lepelle (Olifants) River would be the order of the day, because I was always terrified of hunting. Having spent my childhood days learning what the hills, valleys, mountains and rivers had to offer in terms of food, it was inevitable that my adult life would have to do with the management and sustainable use of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) as well as the social and ecological impacts of such use.

I have worked on a number of wildlife conservation and research projects at Lapalala Nature Reserve in Limpopo Province – focusing on brown hyena, white rhino, and African leopard. I have also worked on a long-term catchment streamflow and weather monitoring project in Jonkershoek Nature Reserve. Prior to joining UCT, I was at the University of the Western Cape, working on Mathematics and Science teacher short courses and training programmes at the Science Learning Centre in the Education Faculty.

For my Masters, I am researching the value chain of cross-border trade of mopane worm and the livelihoods of the mopane worm harvesters and traders between Botswana and South Africa. With growing unemployment and poverty, people are increasingly looking into NTFP harvesting for income generation and provision of important household needs. I hope that my research will shed some light on the intricacies of the cross-border trade and livelihoods of mopane worm harvesters and traders between Botswana and South Africa. At home I’m a #1 fan of any national team dressed in the green and gold colours of South Africa. I sing in a choir and try to listen to as much choral and classical music as I can manage. My day is never complete without listening to Pachelbel Canon in D Major!