Imagine: Camping among lions, hyenas, jackals, baboons and elephants. Having thousands of birds fly overhead daily. Poling—and dragging—a boat through hippo and elephant trails. The Okavango Delta is a wild place, and the richest I’ve ever seen in terms of biodiversity.
There are more than 3,500 lions in the entire Okavango catchment, and 1,500 in the delta itself; 550 individual bird species; and 60,000-80,000 elephants that migrate here during the dry season every year.
Listen to these audio diaries to hear the sounds of the delta and more about Gregg’s experience:
Each of our campsites has huge elephant dung piles scattered around, and I even had an elephant watch me set up my tent one evening. The African Bush Elephants migrate through northern Botswana, Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe before entering the delta during the flood season. They leave with the first rains in November, moving 40 miles a day.
When interacting with large wildlife like this—or any wildlife for that matter—one of the most important things is to remain calm. Interacting with wildlife can be dangerous, but if you’re calm, the animals can sense that. This situational awareness makes all the difference: You react to how you sense an animal is feeling, and the animal, in turn, is sensing everything going on in your body through body language and the pheromones you put out.
As Shah said during our Google+ Hangout, it’s respecting the situation you’re in. He recalled hearing the deep rumble of an elephant on our second day on the water. We pulled the mokoros over and waited until the elephant passed in front of us.
Gregg Treinish is Executive Director of Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation. Learn more at adventurescience.org/okavango, on our Field Notes blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+. Stay tuned for opportunities to get involved in future Okavango expeditions.