I have been very fortunate over the past few months in that I have met a number of researchers here in the Okavango Delta, all of whom are happy to have me helping them out with their projects. Consequently I have been able to help track and collar one of the most charismatic and fascinating species of African carnivore –wild dogs. Not only that, but I have helped a researcher collect lion DNA using biopsy darts, collected samples from the waterways of the delta looking at micro-invertebrate biodiversity in relationship to land usage, studied population dynamics of roan antelope (a very rare species), and assess the impact of elephants on the surrounding vegetation. To say the least, I have had my hands full – there hasn’t been so much as a dull moment here in Botswana.
Tomorrow I’m being flown out to another premier camp located on a small island in the heart of the Okavango to assist with ongoing biology projects in the area, and I couldn’t be more excited! This island is the hotspot of biodiversity in the delta – it is the place to be if one is looking for wildlife. With an abundance of leopard, lion, buffalo, elephants…. there is no shortage of excitement. Basically it is a dream come true living in the thick of the bush, no doubt an addicting lifestyle!
A view from above – flying to one of the camps in the delta. You can easily make out the animal tracks in the vegetation heading towards water (or in this case, a dried up waterhole), often referred to as the ‘veins of life’
This is why elephants cause such a ruckus on the surrounding vegetation – they scrape off the bark with their tusks and chew on it like gum. They will often remove an entire ring of bark around the tree, thus disabling the tree from transporting liquids and nutrients through its bark, inevitably killing the entire tree.
Elephant using its tusk and trunk to remove the bark
The lounge area in one of the camps
Elephant wandering through camp
A leopard on it’s kill – a female impala. Incidentally she was pregnant and only days away from calving.
Leopard in a tree – lazy in the mid-day heat.