Saturday, October 29, 2011

Okavango Delta

We have made our way across southern Africa to one of the most sensitive ecosystems in the world.  We are camped on a small island in the Okavango Delta.  This system and the one next door, the Zambezi depend upon regular rainfall.  In times of climactic variability, systems like the Okavango help illustrate those changes.  We have come here to see how a new park plan is paving the way for the five countries to become partners in cross-border water management, not only to adapt better to climate change, but to create a holistic approach to management of all types: water, ecosystem services, wildlife management, and even education.

Link to more stories on the blog about KAZA

It is hot in the Delta, and overcast.  The record flood of 2011 has subsided, and the rain has yet to start in earnest.  The Cicadas are singing through the heat of the day, and sweat drips into the keyboard of my computer.  We are off to interview local community guides about their opinion on the future of the KAZA park project.

Jeffrey Barbee, October 29, 2011
Okavango Delta

A cattle buying
The cattle industry in Botswana is one of the country's largest cash earners.  Small and large scale cattle farming is at risk from Climate Change, since the Khalahari Desert is such a water-scarce place, any variability in climate can put industries like this in jeopardy.  The Kentrek Enterprises cattle auction in Ghanzi, Botswana has six thousand head of cattle (like these pictured) for sale.
A big baobab tree on the way from Windhoek to The Okavango Delta dwarfs the project vehicles.
Our island camp deep in the Okavango Delta, where we are meeting with local community guides who are excited about the
Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area.  This park, which I have written about extensively in this blog
(LINK TO STORIES), covers the Okavango and Zambezi watersheds, and helps the five countries of Angola, Namibia, Botswana
and Zambia adapt to climate change by managing the watersheds of these two huge river systems as a whole.
Poling a fiberglass makoro canoe through the waters of the Okavango Delta.  This huge inland Delta is very sensitive 
to seasonal Climate Change, and the project is looking at how this system may change in the future, affecting the 
lives of hundreds of thousands of people who depend upon it.
Watching a large herd of elephants near victoria falls
Guma Lagoon in the north part of the Delta.  The lagoon is a good fishing ground for local subsistence fishing during the drier months
of the year.
Journalist Jeffrey Barbee shooting video while traveling down the Thaoge channel in the Okavango Delta.
Papyrus stands high above the waters of the Okavango.  Sometimes local farmers mistakenly burn the grass in the hot dry season,
like it is now.  This clogs the natural systems of the Delta, contributes to Climate Change, and provides no net benefit to those who
burn.  Education is clearly the best way for communities around the Delta to help manage this important water resource.

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