What is a bore hole?

For anyone who has visited the African wilderness (or spent a good amount of time on the couch watching the Discovery Channel), you know that the watering hole is THE place to witness animal activity. There’s an obvious answer as to why: water is an essential part of almost every animal’s daily survival.

And when the rains come to a halt in the dry season, natural watering holes are hard to come by. Animals will travel miles to find water, gather together in the open, and become agitated in their search for something to drink.

That’s where man-made boreholes come in. Built to sustain local wildlife, boreholes and pumps are installed to keep water flowing for thousands of thirsty animals that come throughout Northeast Botswana.

Many man-made water holes in the region were originally built for concession hunting to gather animals in one area. However, Botswana outlawed hunting in 2014 and these privately owned boreholes were left unmaintained.

In an effort to continue to supply water to the largest elephant herd in Africa (and all other wildlife in the region), WFET and the Department of Wildlife are looking to re-build these man-made watering holes and drill some new ones for the growing populations.

This process starts with drilling a bore hole.

What is a borehole?

A bore hole is a vertically drilled hole in the ground, usually made to extract water (although it can be used for petroleum and natural gasses).

A borehole is very much like a well, except it is not hand-dug or lined with stone.

Then what?

As the hole is being dug, sand and mud are scooped out. In WFET’s case, if we’re digging a new borehole, once we get to the water we have to check if the water is salty or fresh. If it’s salty the process has to start all over again at a new location. If it’s fresh, the hole is then lined to keep mud and sand out of the water being pumped out. It’s lined with a double casing from bottom to top. Gravel pec – stops sand from getting and blocking the hole.

The hole is then equipped and the trough is built. These bore holes can pump a minimum of thousands of liters of water per hour.

With so many elephants coming to drink out of these bore holes, the pumps we use have to be strong enough to pump enough water for the 800 elephants that can arrive in one day. This means using a diesel pump. Our plan, in partnership with the government, is to eventually build a solar pump that can match that power.

The next step? Drink up!