In 2010, a group of researchers and I launched a nine-year research project to study the Okavango Delta—one of Africa’s last-remaining intact wetland wildernesses. It’s a patchwork mosaic of channels, floodplains, lagoons, and thousands upon thousands of islands. The delta is a keystone winter sanctuary for elephants and other wildlife in one of the driest parts of the world, the Kalahari Desert.
This year, we completed the ninth and final delta crossing of our nearly decade-long study. What started as a survey of bird and wildlife sightings in the delta has transformed into the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project, an approximately 2,000-mile journey in dug-out canoes to study all of the major rivers in the Okavango River Basin to better understand and protect this precious ecosystem. Through our research, we’ve captured an unprecedented snapshot of the current status of the Okavango River Basin and the people and wildlife that call it home.
Take a look at some of the sightings from this year’s delta crossing: