Mass Communication
NATA BIRD: Yes, it is. A Lesser Kestrel

After a man was convicted of killing a Kestrel in Nata Sanctuary, the magistrate asked if there were any reasons he shouldn’t be sent to jail.

“Well,” said the man, “I didn’t have any work for over a month and my wife and kids were hungry so I killed the bird to feed them.”

“That’s a very good reason. I am going to let you off with a warning this time… but you will be going to prison if we catch you killing another endangered animal.”

“Thank you, your honour.”

“Before you go, though, I want to ask you something. Is Kestrel nice to eat? I mean, can you describe what it tastes like?”

“Oh, sure,” the freed man replied, “it’s sort of a cross between Wattled Crane and Peregrine Falcon.”

If you don’t know that cranes and falcons are also endangered birds in Botswana, you may not find that joke funny… and you may be questioning my ability to communicate.

I’ve been wondering about that myself,even though,once upon time, I was accused of being the best communicator in BirdLife Botswana.

That happened quite a few times during the first decade of this century while I was in charge of the Francistown bird club.

I didn’t know much about birds, but I was good at camping, I didn’t want the club to fold and no one else wanted to be chairman, so the job landed on me… and stuck.

One of the things I did to encourage interest in our outings and meetings was write a weekly blurb for the local advertising papers which I also sent to the main BirdLife Botswana office in Gaborone.

That’s why the national chairman never missed an opportunity to tell the other branch leaders I was a great communicator.

I’m sure it was quite irritating.

To be honest, though, most weeks I didn’t have a lot to say.

But when that happened, I wrote something anyway – a bit like this column – and sometimes I found a bird joke like the one at the top of the page to fill out the piece.

Quite often I didn’t know what I was talking about, but I didn’t try to hide that fact, and I think the bird news was usually easy to read.

That was back in the days when people mainly communicated face to face or on the phone.

I’m still okay with those things, because they usually involve an exchange of ideas with just one other person.

I also approach things like the bird news and this column as if I am writing to just one reader… which, of course, could be the case.

Now days, however, one-on-one communication seems to be endangered as more and more people opt for social media, group messaging on texts and things like Whatsapp.

I am not comfortable with that and I really don’t want to spend too much time staring at my phone.

So, I guess what I’m saying is the rules have changed and I’m not sure I am very good at the new game… or even if I want to be.

Oh well, I guess I will just stick to one-on-one and hope that form of communications doesn’t become extinct.

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