We witnessed the food chain in all its glory this month -- actually, more like the food cycle. From the minute and inconspicuous to the large and famous, everything performed its role in perfect distilled essence. And oiling this wonderful cyclical engine: the rain.
It pains us to see our landscape in thirst. The sight of bare trees and cracked earth puts us on edge. We become wary of the very real threat of fires and desperate for the consoling rains. Extreme heat is a hallmark of summer in southern Africa, as is rain for most regions, but it’s been a fickle 12 months for precipitation. Average rainfall hit 40-year lows in some areas. Mercifully, rain came to the Abu Concession midway through the month, giving us a necessary reprieve from the temperatures (the average high for the second half of January was a remarkable five degrees cooler) and reviving our parched lagoon. Everything greened with a single soak.
But the lush landscape didn’t last. We hadn’t the slightest inkling of the tiny inhabitants who’d made their home amongst the feverberry trees. The eggs of the green-veined charax butterflies hatched overnight and by morning were well on their way to devouring the forest in camp. In 48 hours they consumed every arrow leaf -- a testament to the power of the invisible and abundant. Elephant couldn’t do such a thorough and dedicated job, a reminder of how important the little things are to the overall ecosystem. Things like termites, ants and caterpillars all play a critical role in the regulation of the delta’s biomass.
Speaking of numbers, zebra have been especially plentiful. Our vast seasonal floodplains with their fresh green shoots are sustaining herds we haven’t seen until now. Sitting in our western region of the Delta surrounded by hundreds of grazing and galloping zebra has made for many dramatic dust-filled sunsets.
Summer is an important season for renewal. The rain quenches the parched earth, creating food for the masses of browsers and grazers and allowing everything from birds and fish and antelope a steady environment in which to propagate. It’s a critical time for many animals to counter the effects of drought and predation.
But the predators also benefit. We’ve recorded seven large male lions in our area in the past month -- a record number of such size and stature. Wild dog were seen on 13 different days this month as well as one astonishingly large coalition of six male cheetah.
This month reinforced the importance of every aspect of this incredibly fine-tuned, delicate ecosystem that is the Okavango Delta: it reminded us of the responsibility we have to protect it. Nothing -- not even a deluge of caterpillars -- should be written off as merely a nuisance. Everything has its reason and its place.
Low: 21° Celsius
High: 32° Celsius
“Staff were passionate and unbelievably hospitable, thank you.”
“The staff’s friendly approach, their knowledge and their love for the Delta and its animals is what makes this place the best! And the food!”
"Our guide Joe went out of his way to ensure we saw as much as possible of the wildlife and flora. It was wonderful!”