My name is John Van Thuyne, I am 45 years old. I was born in Switzerland the 18 of June 1968. My father was Guy Van Thuyne the son of a Belgium industrial businessman. My mother is Maxine Van Thuyne, she is the daughter of Mr Max Buchi, a Swiss General Council who was in function in Cap Town during the 40', her mother was Reggina Annenberg a second generation English born in Port Elisabeth South Africa.
I finished school at 18 in Lausanne, and then travelled for two years in India , Tibet and China. Then I came back and went to live in London where I worked for The Global Mail newspaper and The Guardian newspaper for two years. At the same time I became a Fellow member of The Royal Geographical Society, and studied Archeology at the Institute of Archeology at London University College. I married a beautifull Spanish artist from Barcelona with whom I have had two girls and one boy.
Back in Switzerland I started working with my father as an independent advertising representative for the International Herald Tribune, The Guardian, L'Express and a few other international and well respected publishing groups. During these 12 years of professionel work I was able to continue my studies of Archeology and Paleoanthropology at the University of Lausanne, I did 6 seasons of fieldworks, digging in Israel, Spain, Syria, Uzbekisran etc... Thanks to my work with the Herald Tribune in Switzerland I manage to create closer links with different people at the Headquarter of The World Wildlife Fund For Nature in Gland next to Lausanne. We worked during 10 years on numerous projects, partnerships, conferences, fundraising etc...This relationship developed in a passion for the environment, in 2001 I was invited for lunch by the Duke of Edinburg at Buckingham Palace to thank me for the work I had done for the WWF International.
This interest for the environment brought me to the Okavango Delta in 1996, where I establish a Trust called Okavango People Wildlife Trust. As Patron we had the priviledge to have the actual President of Botswana Sir Ian Khama, which I met on a few occasion. We also had the chance to have as Chief Ghosi Tawana Moremi II who worked with us during three years. After six years of existence the Trust activity were handed over to the well know and well respected non governmental organisation Conservation International, also based in Maun.
After 15 years in the advertising business, which allowed me to earned a substancial amount of money, to meet top professionels in many different sectors, and to travelled around the world for the Herald Tribune and for archeological interest, I decided to stop working and to dedicate the following years of my life to understand the geophysical functionning of our earth. So at the age of 35 I went to University to study Geosciences at the University of Lausanne. I acquired a Bachelor Degree in Environmental Sciences and a Master Degree in Environmental Social Issues. For one year I was assistant in a class of Geological Mapping.
I have completed the construction of this Research Center, it is now operational since June 2014. It is a facility which is provided to students, professors and researchers to come and do some fieldworks in three scientific area of research: geology, paleoanthropology and ecology. I am now a PhD researcher in Political Ecology at the University of Lausanne. We have signed a Convention between the Facutly of Geosciences and our Research center. I am, since May 2015, a proud Botswana resident.
My Name is Rita Ridge, a 41 year old woman, born and bred in Maun, Botswana, Africa. I am married to Dr Elvis Gonzalez, I have three beautiful daughters; Stephanie, Summer and Namanda and a little boy called Miguel. I completed my primary and secondary education in Maun where I then enrolled in different Tourism related courses.
Over the last 22 years, I have been actively involved with various tourism related activities in Ngamiland.
My first job, when I was only 19, was camp and relief manager with Game Trackers, Botswana, now known as Orient Express. I received intensive training offered on site by one of their training programmes including professional guiding, of which I hold a certified license. After my training, I was appointed camp and relief manager, overseeing the general running of some of their up market lodges situated in the Delta area.
I eventually moved on to being an Eco Tourism consultant for People and Nature Trust, a non government organization in Maun, offering training and capacity building programmes to people in rural areas such as getting them involved in community driven tourism enterprises and holistic range management programmes.
After this, I worked for several years at Lodges of Botswana, a management company for four of its lodges, as a general Manager, including marketing of these properties. I also worked as a general manager for Jubilee Holdings, owner of one lodge in the Delta and an air charter company.
I am an active member and secretary of the new Letsholathebe II Memorial Hospital Advisory committee in Maun.
In 2012, my husband, a Cuban national and family physician, and myself, ventured into health care and opened a private medical clinic, where I am actively involved as a director and administrator.
I am a business partner with John Van Thuyne of the proposed Scientific Research Centre, Chobe Enclave. With my great passion for the flora and fauna of Botswana, and a growing need to find ways of helping to care for sick and wounded wildlife, meeting John Van Thuyne several years ago and finding out that his passion was earth Sciences in the wilderness, we realised we had a lot of dreams in common and vowed that one day, given the opportunity, we would form a partnership and turn our wishes into reality. That was 18 years ago and the opportunity has now presented itself!
John Mainga, staff manager and site director.
Betty Toteng, accounting and work permits.
Caroline Reymond, laboratory manager.
Valentin Métraux, IT manager.