GNF - Okavango Delta

Okavango Delta – Botswana


Background Okavango Delta

In 2014, the Okavango Delta was one of the 100 Greenest Holiday Destinations world-wide

Sustainable Destinations Global Top 100

The Okavango River, with its length of 1,600 km, is the fourth longest river in Southern Africa and drains onto surface of the Kalahira Desert to create the world famous Okavango Delta, which has no outlet to the sea. The Okavango Delta is situated in Botswana, Southern Africa, and has a size of approx. 16,000 sq. km. It is world’s largest inland delta. The delta is part of the Moremi Wildlife Reserve and also part of the Kalahari Desert. The shallow water areas have an average depth of 20 meters.

The Okavango Delta is the principal tourist attraction and water source of Botswana, as well as foods and building materials for local communities. Although approx. 500,000 t per year solid salts reach the delta with the water of the Okavango River (approx. 10 billion cubic meters per year), the water of the Okavango Delta remains fresh. The transpiration through plants prevails the evaporation at the surface, so that the salts are accumulated in the areas of the numerous delta islands. Also the different flood periods offer the land the time and possibility to regenerate.

The area has a rich and unique biodiversity: 500 bird species, 89 fish species, 128 mammal species, approx. 150 reptiles and amphibian species live in and around the Okavango Delta. Rare bird species such as Locust Finch (Ortygospiza locustella), Black-cheeeked Lovebird (Agapornis nigrigenis), White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus) and Chestnut-banded Plover (Charadrius pallidus) live in the region. Also rare and threatened mammals live in the delta, such as African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus), Black Rhino (Diceros bicornis), African Elephant (Loxodonta africana), African Lion (Panthera leo) and Leopard (Panthera pardus). The Okavango Hinged Terrapin (Pelusios bechuanicus) is an endemic turtle.

The delta is divided into four areas, which are very different concerning their ecology and flora. The so called Panhandle, the underflow of the Okavango River, aquiferous permanently, is overgrown with papyrus species (Cyperus papyrus). The swamp areas at the end of the Panhandle, flooded permanently, are the second zone. This area creates a mosaic of open water surfaces and swimming islands. The areas at the periphery of the delta, which fall temporarily dry - the so called seasonal swamps - are the third zone. The large islands (Chief Island, Chitabe Island) inside the delta and the tongues of sand, which reach the delta from the south, are the fourth zone. Approx. 1,300 different plants species are identified in the whole delta area.


The shore vegetation is also very different, there are mopane and baikea woodlands in the northern part. But also areas of savannah, which are important for the African large mammals, semi-desert regions, grasslands and fields are surrounding the delta.

 Xaxanaxa Lagoon
Photo: Karen Ross
 Elephant in the Okavango Delta
Photo: Karen Ross
 Pied Kingfisher 
Photo: Karen Ross
 Reed frog
Photo: Karen Ross

All photos: Karen Ross


Project goals Okavango Delta

Both partner organisations and their staff have a long history of concern and active involvement in the area. The aims are the conservation of Botswana´s rich biodiversity resources and the managing of the wilderness.



Partner Organisations Okavango Delta



Wilderness Foundation South Africa (WFSA)

Dr. Andrew Muir (CEO) 

Box 12509

Centrahill, Port Elizabeth 6006, South Africa

Phone: +27 41  37 30 293



 Logo Wilderness Foundation

Kalahari Conservation Society Botswana (KCS)

Thato B Morule, CEO

P.O Box 859

Gaborone, Botswana

Plot 112 Independence Avenue

Gaborone, Botswana

Phone: +267 39 74 557

Fax: +267 39 14 259



 Logo KCS