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Okavango Delta, Botswana...

The Okavango Delta is the world's largest inland delta. It is formed where the Okavango River empties onto a swamp in the Kalahari Desert, where most of the water is lost to evaporation and transpiration instead of draining into the sea. Each year approximately 11 cubic kilometres of water irrigate the 15,000 km˛ area and some flood-waters drain into Lake Ngami. The Moremi Game Reserve, a National Park, spreads across the eastern side of the delta.

The Okavango Delta is produced by seasonal flooding. The Okavango river drains the summer (January–February) rainfall from the Angola highlands and the surge flows 1,200 kilometres in approximately one month. The waters then spread over the 250 km by 150 km area of the delta over the next four months (March–June). The high temperature of the delta causes rapid transpiration and evaporation, resulting in a cycle of rising and falling water level that was not fully understood until the early 20th century. The flood peaks between June and August, during Botswana’s dry winter months, when the delta swells to three times its permanent size, attracting animals from kilometres around and creating one of Africa’s greatest concentrations of wildlife.

The delta is very flat, with less than 2 metres variation in height across its 15,000 km˛.
The agglomeration of salt caused by regular floods around plant roots means that many of the thousands of islands have barren white patches in their centre, which have become too salty to support plants, aside from the odd salt resistant palm tree. Trees and grasses grow in sand near the edges of the islands that has yet to become too salty.

Approximately 70% of the islands began as termite mounds, where a tree then takes root on the mound of earth.

Chief’s Island, the largest island in the delta, was formed by a fault line which uplifted an area over 70 km long and 15 km wide. Historically it was reserved as an exclusive hunting area for the chief. It now provides the core area for much of the resident wildlife when the waters rise. This is where this small village is located.

The Okavango Delta peoples consist of five ethnic groups, each with its own ethnic identity and language. They are Hambukushu, Dceriku, Wayeyi, Bugakhwe and River Bushmen. The Hambukushu, Dceriku, and Wayeyi are all Bantus who have traditionally engaged in mixed economies of millet/sorghum agriculture; fishing, hunting, and the collection of wild plant foods; and pastoralism.

The Bugakhwe and the River Bushmen are Bushmen who have traditionally practised fishing, hunting, and the collection of wild plant foods; Bugakhwe utilized both forest and riverine resources while the ||anikhwe mostly focused on riverine resources. The Hambukushu, Dceriku, and Bugakhwe are present along the Okavango River in Angola and in the Caprivi Strip of Namibia, and there are small numbers of Hambukushu and Bugakhwe in Zambia as well.

Source: Okavango Delta

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Additional Photos by Erdem Kutukoglu (Suppiluliuma) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 260 W: 105 N: 594] (3863)
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