Project Area Botswana

SAVE has made a serious commitment to protect biodiversity in the southern African country of Botswana. Botswana’s varied ecosystem types support a vast array of wildlife. The Kalahari Desert encompasses nearly all of the country. The Kalahari is not a true desert but a dry grassland that historically supported vast herds of zebra, giraffe, and various antelope species symbolic of the African savannah. The Okavango River, which originates in Angola, fans out across northern Botswana forming an aquatic network of channels. The Okavango Delta is a renowned biodiversity hotspot – an oasis in this semi-desert that attracts birds, hippopotamuses, crocodiles, and many of other species that come for the water. In northeastern Botswana, a system of sunbaked salt pans fill with water during the rainy season and provide habitat for migratory species such as flamingoes, pelicans, and other water and shorebirds as well as zebra and wildebeest.

In Botswana, it is possible for a person to see Africa’s “big five” species in one day: the lion, elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros – a pretty unique experience. Other rare and endangered species call Botswana home, including African wild dogs, cheetahs, brown hyenas, aardvarks, and white-headed and lappet-faced vultures. Botswana has a low human population density and some of the best protected national parks in the world.

However, many threats are putting the animals of Botswana’s seeming wildlife paradise at risk. Poaching, especially the intentional killing of predators by livestock farmers is one of the biggest threats to lions, cheetahs, leopards, hyenas, and African wild dogs. Livestock farms are spreading across the country and pushing out wild animals where they used to thrive. Legal and illegal mining is increasingly encroaching on wildlife habitat. Thousands of kilometers/miles of fences meant to keep wildlife and domestic livestock apart for the protection of each have caused more harm than good in many cases. The fences have cut off migration routes for wildebeest, zebra, and other animals, for example. Scores of these animals have perished during regular droughts as they have tried and failed to get through fences in search of water and forage.

SAVE has a contingent of staffers in Botswana and works in cooperation with Botswana-based organizations, to support wildlife research, conservation, and education efforts. SAVE works to reduce threats to the country’s wildlife and unique ecosystems.

SAVE’s Botswana Projects