Not all rivers flow to the sea.
Every year, summer rains in the Angola highlands surge hundreds of miles down the Okavango river and reach a closed basin in northern Botswana. There, the waters course across a huge grassland. During the next four months, much of the flood will evaporate or get sucked up by plants. But in the meantime, the Okavango Delta is a lush haven for wild dogs, buffalo, hippos, lions, cheetahs, baboons, the world’s largest population of elephants, and more. The 6,500-square-mile basin is very flat, but the annual flooding carves canals, lakes, swamps, and islands where wildlife cavort and eat each other. Circle of life, baby.
Want to visit yet? This Friday you can, and you don’t even need to board a plane to Africa. National Geographic is hosting a live Google+ Hangout at 10am ET.
Conservationist Steve Boyes has helped the Okavango Delta reach UNESCO World Heritage Site status this year. He also works to protect the river from damming and studies how deforestation threatens parrot species across Africa. “The first time I experienced the heart of the Okavango Delta, I was brought to tears,” Boyes told National Geographic. “I’ve seen no place that approaches wildlife densities like these. It’s the closest I’ve come to pure African wilderness.”
Also tuning in will be adventurer Gregg Treinish, who founded Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation, an organization that pairs outdoor enthusiasts with scientists. The adventurers collect data as they travel and explore, and the scientists help make sense of that data. So far his project has empowered Everest climbers to discover the Earth’s highest growing plants, bikers to figure out hotspots for roadkill, and other projects.
Big data analyst Jer Thorp will bring his expertise on wrangling large data sets and teasing out the beauty and narrative power of information to the hangout. Ocean conservationist and engineer Shah Selbe, who developed a crowdsourced platform to monitor fishing in fragile areas, will also tune in.
The group of explorers are now working with the Okavango Delta’s baYei tribe to develop new conservation projects there.
Previously, National Geographic has offered hangouts with climbers about to summit Mount Everest, researchers in an undersea lab (not that one, this one), and high tech explorers who work from space and Antarctica. This hangout will be a chance to see some dynamic explorers in action and live vicariously through them as they navigate the waters of the verdant Okavango Delta.
Photo by Voyages Lambert/Flickr.com (CC BY 2.0)