Page 42 - Discover Botswana 23rd Edition 2023
P. 42

 Of course, this is so all over Africa, but for me, somehow, in Botswana there seems to be an even greater connection. Perhaps in the absence of any coastlines,
steep gorges, mountains or impenetrable valleys, water here assumes the role of primary influencer, causing everything to be inextricably linked to its presence. Whether that be the rise and fall of the Chobe as increasingly unpredictable rains come and go, or the re- emergence of an ancient delta-aquifer, brought back to life by the imperceptible subterranean shift of a geological plate, its control over the country’s wildlife is profound. It encourages and hinders movement in equal measure, and somehow manages to simultaneously bring about both security and danger. The former in the effect it has on the food sources available, and the latter on the inevitable signal that it
sends to the country’s predators that there is to be an uptick in food availability.
Whenever I work in the country, I draw endless inspiration from the energy that water pumps through the country’s myriad ecosystems. There is little more invigorating than moving through miles of arid bushveld, dodging thorns and furiously blinking away the country’s all-pervading dust, to emerge on a riverbank or alight upon the edge of a pan, to a scene of shimmering bounty. Across the country, the rainfall varies enormously. From the more riparian habitats of the north-east, to the virtual deserts of the south, Botswana’s varying water levels provide enormous diversity, driving movement and activity of the entire spectrum of animal life.
Water brings exuberance. It brings life, shelter and opportunity. From the smallest dove to the largest elephant, all are drawn to it. It is a time to feel revitalised and an
opportunity to bring new life into the world. New-born cubs and pups take their first steps, and breeding grazers maximise their chance to boost the herd in a time of plenty.
In general terms, Botswana’s permanent rivers seem to bring calm and security. Conditions may change, levels rise and fall, but throughout the year they provide a magnetic attraction for the widest range of fauna across the country. For wildlife to be able to slake thirst, bathe or simply hang out with little outward effort, a reassurance is felt that is seldom seen elsewhere. Even in the very driest parts of the year, when these torrents are reduced to narrow twisting ribbons, they remain intact and provide essential sanctuary. Of course, with this timely increase of their importance, so too is there an unremitting rise in the precariousness to such a constant procession of needy creatures. The support these rivers provide may indeed be an ever-
Previous pages: The quickened pace of a herd of Elephants arriving onto the Chobe River throws up a dust cloud that engulfs them as they dip their trunks into the life-giving waters of this miracle river.
Facing page: Although not water reliant, Meerkats in the Kalahari will adapt to localized thunderstorms during Botswana’s rainy season from November through to March. The rains bring on a flurry of insect life which forms part of their diet.

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