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Wildlife in Botswana

Africa's best authentic tailor-made safaris

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Wildlife in Botswana

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By Antoinette Booyse

Safari Travel Planner

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The wilds of Northern Botswana safeguard the largest elephant population in the world. Colossal breeding herds and large solitary bulls traverse the landscapes of Chobe National Park and Moremi Game Reserve. Kobe’s broad-leaved woodlands and riparian forests are home to the endemic Chobe bushbuck and other lesser-known antelope species like Puku, Sable, and Roan.

Sable antelope in Botswana
Sable antelope in Botswana

Chobe also boasts the highest bird species diversity in Botswana (468 species), including birds found nowhere else in the country like the Schalow’s and Purple-crested turacos, Trumpeter and Crowned hornbills, and the Crested guinea fowl.

Savute, in the western Chobe region, is notorious for its large lion prides, historically numbering up to 30-odd individuals. The unpredictability of Savuti’s water supply has been known to set the scene for dramatic feats of survival, including hibernating crocodiles and bold lions preying on adult elephants. Savuti’s vast savanna plains are perfect for enjoying sightings of Burchell’s zebra, Tsessebe, giraffe, and impala.

Lion strike an imposing presence in Moremi
Lion strike an imposing presence in Moremi

Red lechwe splashing through the swamplands, hippopotamuses treading confidently out of the water at midday, and lions swimming across water channels are just a few of the spectacular wildlife sightings awaiting visitors to the Okavango Delta.

The Okavango comes into its own during winter when rainwater from the highlands of Angola fans out over temporary floodplains that teem with wildlife.

Impala Antelope jumping over a stream, Moremi, Okavango Delta
Impala Antelope jumping over a stream, Moremi, Okavango Delta

You could get lucky and spot a semi-aquatic Sitatunga antelope lurking in the papyrus – or a Pel’s Fishing Owl. These beautiful owls replace their daylight rivals, fish eagles, on perches overlooking deep lagoons where they fish for large bream.

The Okavango Delta is also the best place to see the near-endemic Slaty Egret, Wattled Crane, and special waterbirds such as the Lesser Jacana, White-backed Night Heron, and African skimmer.

The Pels fishing owl is a beautiful bird, found in the Okavango
The Pels fishing owl is a beautiful bird, found in the Okavango

The cracked and dry Makgadikgadi Salt Pans may not look like the environment that would attract a large wildlife population, but appearances can be deceiving.

Come summertime, these desolate arid expanses sprout juicy patches of grass, attracting springbok, wildebeest, and zebra, followed closely by lion and cheetah.

Along the Boteti River, you can watch Southern Africa’s largest zebra migration and, come nighttime, shine a spotlight on the secret lives of playful bat-eared foxes and shy brown hyenas.

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