Rachel Kramer is a Program Officer for Wildlife Conservation and TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network.
A friend and I steal away from work and family every few years, to explore wild places and celebrate them in photographs. On one of our journeys, we traveled through Botswana, from the arid Kalahari to the lush Okavango delta. We were humbled by the diversity of life and landscapes in this magnificent region of Africa, and fortunate to witness some remarkable animal moments.
The vast Kalahari, where our travels began, contains the seemingly barren Makgadikgadi pans. In this desert, white sand flats are all that remains of a vast inland lake that covered a large area of Botswana several million years ago. Today, wildlife trails vein the landscape, ending in parched water holes.
The Okavango River to the northwest of the Makgadikgadi pans is fed by rainfall in the distant Angolan highlands. This river currently inundates a vast inland delta. This delta’s remarkable shallow waters and lush vegetation provide sanctuary for some of the largest wildlife congregations in Africa.
Like many oases, the Okavango delta is fragile. If the flow of the Okavango River were to be interrupted or diverted upstream, or climate change were to aridify the region, the Delta’s lush marshes and pools could one day disappear. What would be left behind would well resemble today’s arid Magadikgadi pans.
Today, the Kalahari and the Okavango delta host an astounding array of biodiversity, with uniquely adapted survival strategies. From towering baobabs to slumbering lions, the life in this region is remarkable.