By Marianne Betts
A lot can happen in a week, especially when Mother Nature is involved.
Over one week in mid-March the Chobe River, in front of Ngoma Safari Lodge, on the western edge of Chobe National Park grew, from a small channel to filling the entire floodplain.
Ngoma Safari Lodge manager Frances King says the level of the Chobe River is primarily affected by water coming from the Zambezi River, so rainfall closer to its source in Angola resulted in the rapid seasonal rise of the river.
While the local rain – of which there has been plenty lately, with Mrs King estimating of the 700mm to fall since mid-November, 80 per cent fell in February – had a less significant impact on the levels of the Chobe River.
The rain transforms the Chobe area, almost instantly, from a dry sunburnt landscape where the Chobe River is the only source of water for the wildlife, to a lush green expanse, and the animals spread out as water fills the pans.
“When the pans fill, the wildlife, especially elephant, move into the park to where there is more food. The rain brings plenty babies and incredible scenery,” she says.
Contrary to a belief that game viewing is better in the drier months, there is often plenty to see at this time of the year – last week visitors came across the incredibly unusual sight of a kill where 16 lion had killed four buffalo in one hunt in Chobe National Park, she says.
As the waters subside on the floodplain, the zebra will soon gather to feed on the soft, new grass, as part of the longest big-mammal migration documented in Africa, where a few thousand zebra cover more than 500km across parts of Namibia and Botswana.