Wildlife in Botswana
The wilds of Northern Botswana safeguard the largest elephant population in the world. Huge breeding herds and large solitary bulls traverse the landscapes of Chobe National Park and Moremi Game Reserve. Chobe’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. 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 guineafowl.
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.
Red lechwe splashing through the swamplands, hippopotamuses trodding confidently out of 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 months when rainwater from the highlands of Angola fans out over temporary floodplains that teem with wildlife. You could get lucky and spot a semi-aquatic sitatunga antelope from a mokoro, lurking in the papyrus – or a Pels Fishing Owls. These beautiful owls replace their daylight rivals, fish eagles, on perches overlooking deep lagoons where they fish for large bream. The 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 cracked and dry Makgadikgadi Salt Pans may not look like the kind of environment that would attract a large population of wildlife, but appearances can be deceiving. Come summertime, these desolate dry expanses sprout juicy patches of grass attracting springbok, wildebeest and zebra followed closely by lion and cheetah. Shallow waters flood over seemingly endless pans, attracting thousands of flamingos. Along the Boteti River you can watch Southern Africa’s largest zebra migration, and come nighttime shine a spotlight into the secret lives of playful bat-eared foxes and shy brown hyenas.