Botswana, a landlocked country in Southern Africa, is well-known for its natural treasures in the form of diverse terrains and ecoregions, and a rich biodiversity. The country' s national parks are vital in conserving the unique landscape, flora, and fauna of the nation. Here is a description of some of the top national parks in Botswana.
4. Nxai Pan National Park
The Nxai Pan National Park is located in north-eastern Botswana and encompasses one of the salt flats of the Makgadikgadi Pan known as the Nxai Pan. The Nxai Pan National Park lies adjacent to the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park to the north. The salt pan is basically a fossil lakebed occupying an area of about 40 square km.
3. Makgadikgadi Pan National Park
The Makgadikgadi Pan National Park features a massive complex of salt pan, one of the largest in the world, located in the midst of the dry savannah landscape of north-eastern Botswana. The salt pan remains one of the extensive Lake Makgadikgadi that once occupied an area larger than Switzerland in the area. After the lake dried up thousands of years ago, it left behind signs of its existence in the form of the salt pans. The largest among the salt pans in the Makgadikgadi salt pan complex is Sua, Nxai, and Nwetwe. The largest individual pan in the area is 4,921.0 square km in size. The pans are seasonally covered by vegetation and water and then serve as a vital refuge for birds and animals in the otherwise arid habitat. The Nata River is the primary source of water in the Makgadikgadi Pan National Park.
The salt pans themselves have only a thin layer of blue-green algae. However, salt marshes exist at the fringes of these pans and grasslands and shrubby savanna is found in series surrounding the salt pan marshes. Baobab trees are the distinct flora of the region. Wildebeest, zebras, great white pelicans, greater flamingos, chestnut-banded plover, ostriches, rock monitor, tortoises, Makgadikgadi spiny agama, etc., are some of the key fauna living in the Makgadikgadi Pan National Park. Although the pans are unsuitable for human habitation, the ecosystem of the national park is not completely free of threats. Overgrazing, restriction of wildlife corridors in the region due to human interference, salt extraction operations, use of off-road vehicles and quad bikes by tourists all threaten the delicate flora and fauna of the national park.
2. Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park
Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park is located near the border of Botswana and South Africa. It is an extensive area of conservation in southern Africa. In total, the park occupies an area of 38,000 square kilometers, three-quarters of which lies in Botswana and the rest in South Africa. Unfortunately, in September 2014, over half of the park’s land was sold for the purpose of gas-fracking. The terrain of the national park features sand dunes, occasional trees, and dry riverbeds.
The Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park has a rich biodiversity. Large mammalian predators like the Kalahari lions, leopards, hyenas, Namibian cheetahs constitute the iconic megafauna of this national park. Herbivores like springbok, wildebeest, hardebeest, elands, and others also live here. Several species of birds like eagles, buzzards, vultures, raptors, and secretary birds are the iconic avians of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park.
1. Chobe National Park
Chobe National Park was Botwana's first national park. Thriving with wildlife, the park can be divided into several distinct ecoregions. The Serondela area, also known as the Chobe riverfront, is located in the park’s extreme northeast. Dense mahogany and teak woodlands and lush floodplains characterize the national park. The Chobe River flowing through the region is a major watering spot for herds of giraffes, elephants, cape buffalo, and antelopes. There are excellent birding opportunities with flood spoonbills, waterfowl, ibis, storks and ducks all there to be found. The Serondela area is also the most touristed area in the Chobe National Park.
The 10,878 square km vast Savuti Marsh area represents the remnants of a large lake whose water source was disrupted long ago by tectonic activities. Rolling grasslands and savannahs offer spectacular views of the region’s wildlife. Rhinos, lions, hyenas, kudu, impala, zebra, warthog, and more call the region their home.
The Linyanti Marsh ecoregion is located in the Chobe National Park’s northwest corner adjacent to the Linyanti River. The Kwando River also flows nearby. Riverine and open woodlands, flood plains, and lagoons characterize the terrain of the national park. Lions, leopards, sable antelope, hippopotamus, African wild dog, crocodiles, and more are the residents of the marsh area.