World Wetlands Day salute: Okavango Delta and NatGeo’s Okavango Wilderness Project

In observance of World Wetlands Day, National Geographic salutes the heroic work of the Okavango Wilderness Project, working to preserve the largest freshwater wetland in Southern Africa — and the main source of water for a million people.  Spanning southern Angola, Namibia, and northern Botswana, the Okavango Basin is one of Africa’s richest places for biodiversity, all dependent on fresh water originating in Angola’s highlands, which converge into rivers flowing through Namibia into Botswana.  Over the years of the project and before, National Geographic has gathered hundreds of stunning photographs from the Okavango Delta, featuring its extraordinary scenic beauty and people working to preserve this ecosystem.

These photo galleries feature some of the best of this imagery.  Gallery 1, landscapes:

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Located in northern Botswana, the delta is home to the world’s largest remaining elephant population as well as lions, cheetahs, wild dogs, and hundreds of species of birds. But the delta’s future is uncertain. Its health is linked to that of rivers that originate in Angola, then converge and flow through Namibia into Botswana.  These rivers are vital to the region’s future, but are currently unprotected outside of Botswana.

Gallery 2, wildlife:

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The National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project (NGOWP) is working to protect the Okavango watershed by exploring and surveying its source waters in Angola. Founded by National Geographic Fellow
Steve Boyes in 2015 and comprised of an interdisciplinary team of scientists and explorers from the region and around the world, the NGOWP team is on a four-year mission to canoe, climb, and slog through uncharted
Angolan headwaters to survey the sources of the river systems and collect data to inform strategies aimed at protecting this vital resource for generations to come.  This next photo gallery features NGOWP conservationists at work in the delta, and a few of the local inhabitants.

Gallery 3, people in the Okavango:

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In addition to building a case for conservation through expedition science, the team is focused on long term, sustainable management of protected areas in Angola through helping to establish partnerships between governments, NGOs, and local communities.   Here’s a link to a detailed description of NGOWP efforts in the delta: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/11/africa-expedition-conservation-okavango-delta-cuito/

 

Changing Planet, Wildlife

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Rolf recently joined National Geographic Society's Digital department, as Photo Editor/Digital. His career has been mostly in commercial photo art directing and re-focusing his work into conservation is fulfillment of a longtime goal.