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 and hundreds of species of birds. The Okavango Delta’s health is dependent on its source lakes and rivers, which carry water that originates as rain in Angola’s highlands. While the Delta itself holds protected status, the Okavango Basin that feeds it does not, and the effects of climate change, deforestation and upstream commercial agriculture are putting this critical lifeline at risk.
Over the course of five years, De Beers will work together with National Geographic, providing support, expertise and funding to expand and accelerate work already underway, working hand-in-hand with local communities to help establish sustainable local livelihoods
in harmony with the Okavango Basin’s conservation. The partnership will focus on protecting the natural world, through research and the creation of a wildlife corridor, as well as supporting communities
by creating sustainable livelihood opportunities across Botswana, Namibia and Angola.
To date, the NGOWP have completed extensive research in the area, having traversed 10,000km of waterways and in doing so discovered more than 50 species new to science. Okavango Eternal now aims
to provide funding for training and ongoing research of local scientists and students across Botswana, Namibia and Angola. The findings
will help support and motivate for the further preservation of the area, including through the creation of one of the longest wildlife corridors in the world. While governments, conservation organisations and local communities have already created a transfrontier area in the greater Okavango Basin to allow for animal migrations, the partnership is motivating for specific safeguards to the waterways, which are ancient migratory routes for elephant. In turn these ‘elephant highways’ will allow further wildlife to move freely across borders and have the space to exist away from human settlements.
However, protecting the natural world and keeping water to the Delta flowing, won’t succeed without collaboration with local communities, whom Okavango Eternal aims to support by creating 10,000 livelihood opportunities based on conserving the land and the wildlife corridor through the Basin. There are plans to create cooperatives around conservation and ecotourism, as well as sustainable agriculture
Kostadin Luchansky / National Geographic
— including working with farmers to practise more sustainable methods that utilise and replenish the ecosystem around them. Through Okavango Eternal, De Beers and National Geographic
will work together to help establish and activate one of the largest transboundary protected areas in sub-Saharan Africa. In doing so, it will help build self-sustaining conservation-based tourism economies
to create local support and understanding of the water basin’s conservation in Angola, Namibia and Botswana. It also aims to bring the wonder of the area to the world, through compelling storytelling, including a Botswana-based film about the Okavango Basin, to
raise awareness about the issues facing this ecosystem and why it’s important that it’s protected.
More details of the Okavango Eternal partnership are available at and
Follow the partnership’s progress through the @natgeo, @intotheokavango and @debeersofficial social media handles.
   Chris Boyes / National Geographic 5

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