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Places to explore biodiversity


Botswana is a landlocked country in the middle of southern Africa that occupies an area of about 581 730 km2 and yet has a population of only about 1.5 million people. It is an amazing country of contrasts ranging from the harsh dryness of the Kalahari Desert to the lush waterways of the Okavango Delta.

Endemism of plants and animals is very low largely because the vegetation and soil types within Botswana extend over the borders into adjoining countries. Also, there are not high mountain ranges where endemic biotas have evolved. Species diversity is also not particularly spectacular, compared to other regions in southern Africa. For example, there are 150 species of mammal, 570 species of birds, and 2150-3000 species of plant. Nevertheless, the conservation areas are among the most popular ecotourist destinations in southern Africa because of the spectacular abundance of wildlife. The Okavango Delta and Chobe Reserves also have vegetation that attracts a few tropical species from further north, not represented anywhere else in southern Africa.

Hippos near Xaxaba, Okavango Swamps. [photo D. Hamerton ]

Conservation areas

A total of 30.2% of Botswana is protected for wildlife, which is a high percentage by Africa standards.

Central Kalahari Game Reserve

At 52 800 square kilometres, this game reserve is one of the largest in Africa and in area is larger than Denmark or Switzerland. It lies in the centre of Botswana and habitats include huge open plains, saltpans and (usually dry) river beds.


Chobe National Park

At 10 566 km2, this is the second largest national park in Botswana. It has one of the largest concentrations of game in Africa, including an exceptionally high concentration of elephants. 


Gaborone Game Reserve

A small (600 ha) game reserve in Gaborone that despite its size is the third busiest reserve in all of Botswana.


Kgalagadi Trans-frontier Park

A reserve encompassing both South African and Botswanan territory, amounting to 38000 square km. See also Sanparks web page.  


Khutse Game Reserve

Totals 2500 km2 and includes mainly Kalahari bush savanna.


Makgadikgadi Pans National Park and Nxai Pans National Park

Huge salt pans.


Mokolodi Nature Reserve

A 3000 ha private reserve managed by the Mokolodi Wildlife Foundation that lies 10 km SW of Gaborone.


Manyelanong Game Reserve

A small reserve 15 km from Lobatse on the Gaborone Road that is home to an important breeding site for Cape vultures.


Mashatu Game Reserve

Covers 46 000 ha making it the largest private reserve in southern Africa. It lies in the region between the Shashe and Limpopo rivers south of the Tuli Circle and habitats include savanna plains, marshland, riverine forests and sandstone outcrops.


Moremi Game Reserve

Occupies the eastern section of the Okavango Delta, covering 4871 km2.


Okavango Delta

The largest inland delta in the world. There are websites covering specific projects (e.g. Ramsar, Conservation International) in the Okavango Delta or commercial tourism operations (e.g. Island Safaris) but there seems to be no single site that impartially coordinates information about this special region. The Okavango Delta includes the Moremi Game Reserve.




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