2013 Okavango Expedition: Amazing Video Footage From Paradise (Part 1)

We have now crossed the Okavango Delta on dug-out canoes or “mokoros” four times as part of the most in-depth study of the Okavango Delta’s abundant birdlife ever undertaken. This ground-breaking study by the Percy FitzPatrick Institute is establishing the data necessary to use 71 wetland bird species as indicators of significant change in the hydrology, flood regime or functioning of this sensitive wetland ecosystem. Every year we “pole” ourselves over 250 miles across this enigmatic alluvial fan in the middle of the Kalahari Desert with our friends and mentors, the baYei River Bushmen. They have taught us how to navigate and pole our own mokoros safely across this vast 18,000 square kilometre patchwork mosaic of channels, floodplains, lagoons, papyrus, reedbeds and thousands upon thousands of islands. We have learnt how to survive effectively off the delta during these 15-18 day passages through a wilderness beyond comparison. I have travelled all over Africa and seen the great wildebeest migrations of East Africa, but have never seen wildlife densities this high anywhere in Africa. These epic expeditions across Africa’s premier wetland wilderness are dedicated each year to UNESCO World Heritage Listing for the Okavango Delta. This video footage will reveal to you a place on earth that needs to be protected as our closest representation of an ancient, primordial world thousands of years ago…

5050 SABC2Bertus Louw, a presenter on a very popular Afrikaans language nature show called 50/50 on South Africa’s public broadcaster, joined us on the middle portion of the 2013 Okavango Expedition. It took us a week to get to where we picked up Bertus near Mombo Camp in the geographic centre of the Okavango Delta. We had struggled for days through dry floodplains, reedbeds and papyrus before we eventually crossed broke through to the flowing channels that go through the Mombo area on the northern peninsula of Chief’s Island. I had done part of my PhD fieldwork in this area, so knew it well enough to find the rendezvous point where we found him. The experiences that Bertus shared with us over the following week were captured in these two 15-minute inserts broadcast on the 23rd and 30th December 2013.

The 2013 Okavango Expedition was our most gruelling ever, but recorded more wildlife and bird sightings than ever before. After four years of exploration we had hit the jackpot! Thousands upon thousands of wetland birds and more wildlife than I have seen anywhere in Africa. More encounters with dangerous wildlife than any expedition I have ever been on. This expedition was raw, wild Africa and the videos capture this enlivening, vibrant and intoxicating energy. Both Part 1 & 2 are not to missed! Watch from about 8 minutes in Part 2 to see a mind-blowing encounter with a 5-metre-long crocodile hellbent on eating John Hilton (Commercial Director: Wild Bird Trust)…

Steve poling past a large pod of hippos near Mombo Camp in the heart of the Okavango Delta. Just look at this place! (Paul Steyn)
Steve poling past a large pod of hippos near Mombo Camp in the heart of the Okavango Delta. Just look at this place! (Paul Steyn)

Please also go to intotheokavango.org for a unique view into our world on expedition. This collaboration between Jer Thorp and I is an effort to represent rich data from a research expedition into one of the remotest locations on earth LIVE online for the world to see… We had a transponder updating our location live everyday and, at the end of each day, we would upload all bird sightings, comments, photos, and sounds from the day. We even had data from temperature loggers and heart rate monitors uploaded live each day.

Addi Longley-Taylor

Please visit our new website: www.wildbirdtrust.com



Meet the Author
Steve Boyes has dedicated his life to conserving Africa's wilderness areas and the species that depend upon them. After having worked as a camp manager and wilderness guide in the Okavango Delta and doing his PhD field work on the little-known Meyer's Parrot, Steve took up a position as a Centre of Excellence Postdoctoral Fellow at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology. He has since been appointed the Scientific Director of the Wild Bird Trust and is a 2014 TED Fellow. His work takes him all over Africa, but his day-to-day activities are committed to South Africa's endemic and Critically Endangered Cape Parrot (Poicephalus robustus). Based in Hogsback Village in the Eastern Cape (South Africa), Steve runs the Cape Parrot Project, which aims to stimulate positive change for the species through high-quality research and community-based conservation action. When not in Hogsback, Steve can be found in the Okavango Delta where he explores remote areas of this wetland wilderness on "mokoros" or dug-out canoes to study endangered bird species in areas that are otherwise inaccessible. Steve is a 2013 National Geographic Emerging Explorer for his work in the Okavango Delta and on the Cape Parrot Project.