Episode 9: Moremi Game Reserve. Where, what and some history with Severine Wider
As usual, go to our instagram “Semowi_farm” to find some image and comments about Moremi Game Reserve.
Hello. Hello. Today? It’s Thursday, so I’m back in English.
Today I will talk about Moremi Game Reserve. To start with, where is it? It’s situated west of the Okavango Delta. And yes, it’s in the Okavango Delta. The actual size is around 5000 m².
Let’s start with some history. In 1840, Livingstone left the region of the Okavango Delta around Maun. He absolutely loved it. But he created a problem. A lot of Europeans started to come to hunt. So fast forward 1950. A lot of hunters were here during all those years and research started to show that the games that were hunted started to really disappear.
The wife of one of the big chief, MoremiChief, started to be really worried. And she was the chief at that time of the Batawana tribe. And then she decided that it was very, very important to start to protect against the hunters or all the animal would disappear. She created the reserve and she named it by her husband named Chief Moremi.
It’s important to know that it was the first wildlife reserve in southern Africa that was created by an African community in its own property. She created Moremi Game Reserve in 1963. When it was created, it was like a triangle and the size was 30 km by 65 km by 65 km. It’s only in 1970 that it was expanded, and Chief Island was added. At that time the size increased to 3800 square meters. That time it’s around one third of the Okavango Delta.
Already in 1981 they added a new section in the northwest between Ngoga and Jao rivers and they increased the size to its current size, almost 5000 square meters. Same time they added the last part. The Botswana government also develop a politic of ecotourism that mean every lodges has to have a low impact and they have to leave only a small footprint. I think I already talked to you about that. That means everything they built has to be able to be unbuilt. And then nature can be as it was before.
What do you find inside Moremi? It’s a mix of flood plain and forested islands, small island, bigger island. You will also find lily mantle lagoon. Hey, let’s talk about this lily. During the day the lily you’re going to see are light blue, but at night different lily will open and there yellow. Something else very interesting about the lily is you can eat the roots of the lily. And this is a very specialty that you have in northern Botswana and it’s called Twsii. And if you come to eat, at our restaurant we have the Twsii. Now you will also find dense Papyrus’s bed, twisty rooted strangle fig, giant fan palm and deep green mopani woodland or also acacia woodland. I was reading that there are more than 1000 different plants in Moremi, so it’s extremely diverse.
Now let’s talk a little bit about the animals you’re going to find in Moremi. Something maybe I haven’t said yet is Moremi doesn’t have a fence. There is no fence around the reserve. The animals are free to come and go. Now you will find some fences in Botswana, but those fences were created years ago to separate the buffalos from the kettle. That means they kind of separate the country in different zones. The buffalo cannot meet the kettle because they have a disease. They are not sick. It’s just a disease that the buffalos have, mouth and feet disease, but they don’t get sick with it. But if they give it to the cows, then the cows get sick and the beef of the cows cannot be exported. So those fences were created in Botswana, but they have nothing to do with the reserves. They are not limited the reserves. They are really to separate the buffalos from the cows. I will talk in detail about that another day.
But I think the important point to remember is there is no fence in those reserves, the animals come and go where they want. It’s a reserve. That means there is no hunting, and nobody is allowed to modify anything. If the tree fell down, nobody is going to go and move the tree. The road is going to be modified. You are not allowed to take wood to create a fire or anything. You have to take everything with you, and you have to leave with everything.
So which animal are you going to find inside? You’re going to find huge herds of elephants. I read somewhere that it was more than 50,000 elephants in Moremi. Now it’s not permanent, they come and go. You will also find huge herds of buffalos, zebras and a lot of various antelopes. They migrate freely between there, between the wetland of Morami, and Chobe, The kudu, the Tsessebe, all the impalas, Sitatunga, Redbuck Bushbuck Waterbuck, and then all the baboon, all the velvet monkeys, tons of giraffe. What else? Oh, I forgot the hippos. There is a lot of hippos because there is a lot of water in Moremi now, because you have all of those that we call them game, you gonna find the predator. So let’s talk about those one too. You will find a lot of lions, leopards, you will find cheetahs too, the caracals, the servals, the wild dogs, the African wildcats, the genets. There is so many of them.
I forgot to talk about the hyena. The hyena is going to come every single night around your campsite to see if you left some food outside. And then there is all the foxes, honey badgers…. I mean, there is so many of them. And I am not even talking here about the insects or the reptiles. I have a small brochure, you know the small brochure, you can just mark which animal you saw and I counted more than 60. Now you will find also all snakes, all fishes, butterflies, insects, and there is really ton of them.
And now let’s talk a little bit about the birds. I was reading that in Moremi you can find more than 400 species of birds. Now you will have to come multiple times and at different time of the year, because obviously they are not here all at the same time. But it’s incredible how much diversity you can find here. So, a lot of time with Morgan, when we drive through Moremi, we stop and sometimes we stop in a place where we going to see zebras or giraffe or something. But sometimes there is no big mammals. Okay, then what? Maybe there are some birds we can look at. There are no birds neither. Okay, fine. So I am sure we can find some insect or there is different trees, different plants. There is always so much to discover and learn.
And for us, sometimes it’s a little bit sad because we heard a lot of people saying oh my God, we are going there and we want to see the lion. Yes, okay, the lion. I know it’s incredible, but it’s far not the only thing that you can find. And sometimes just spend more time looking around can be so impressive. We heard that a lot: “Oh those impalas, they are everywhere!” Yes, there is a lot of impalas. But how many people really stop and look at them and look how gorgeous they are. They look like if makeup have been applied on them and how many people look, what are they doing? Are they just grazing, then everything is fine around? Or are they all looking in the same direction? That would mean that there is probably something coming from this direction. Or are they all calling? Is there an Alarm call? What is happening? We realize that a lot of people don’t spend the time to observe what is happening and just, oh, this animal, this animal, this animal, this animal. But there is so much more to do there.
Now let’s go back to those lions. How do you find them? Usually it’s not just driving around that, oh, there is a lion here. Yes, it definitely happens, but a lot of time it’s tracking the lion. What do you see on the floor? Do you see the foot track of the lion? Do you see where the lion had an excrement of a lion? Or do you see something else? There is a lot of things that you look for and then what we call tracking an animal, then you can follow and find him. I will do a podcast just about that. But just to let you know, usually we need to look for it and it doesn’t just show up like this.
So how do you visit Moremi? So there are lodges in Moremi. There are four public campsites inside the reserve and there is multiple campsite that are done for Mobile Safari. I will do a podcast and probably next week about specifically how to visit Miami. How do you book your lodges? How do you book your campsite? What is the mobile safari? It may even be multiple podcasts because there is a lot, a lot of questions around that.
My goal right now is each podcast answer one question and today the question was what is Moremi Game Reserve? And I think I got this answer, right?
So we will see the question next week. We will see if I start by the Mobile Safari or the selfdrives or the Lodges. We will see. By the way, if you have a question, please do not hesitate to contact me. I will answer with pleasure and maybe I will even create a podcast about it. And don’t forget to go to Instagram. I will try to show you some video, maybe some pictures about Moremi and show you a little bit where it is and all that. That’s all for today. I will be back on Tuesday in French. Have a great week. Bye bye.
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We are sharing our daily life in the Okavango Delta in Africa but also how to visit Botswana, the National Parks and how to find wild life.
We will publish in English on Thursdays and in French on Tuesdays.