The Savute Channel
What Lies In Store?
Botswana’s mysterious Savute Channel feeds a marsh of the same name. Almost a decade after reaching peak volume, the Savute is drying up again. Here is an extract from a recent report by Wilderness Safaris’ Environmental Ecologist Nic Proust on conditions around the channel:
“The Savute is producing some of the most amazing gameviewing right now. In fact there is a beauty about its current state that is hard to describe, and we know from history that it is extremely rare to see it like this. Some of the sightings we have witnessed are beyond belief – the sheer numbers and diversity of species make this one of the best spots in Botswana at the moment and we are still far away from the peak of dry season.
Unlike previous years where game could drink anywhere along this 80km channel, they are now restricted to 10km of water all within the Wilderness concession. With thousands of animals drinking every day, it is hard to describe this natural wonder!
It is estimated that up to 3,000 buffalo are using this channel, with a herd of over a thousand seen every day. Zebras are here by the hundred, feeding on the fresh grass. We are thrilled to be seeing all sorts of antelope including the somewhat rare roan antelope in good numbers as well as the odd sable. Reedbuck have made their way back into the area, red lechwe and waterbuck are ever present while impala herds are scattered all along. Amazingly, we even recorded a herd of 68 wildebeest; the previous total record for a whole year numbered only in the twenties.
The area is an elephant hot spot. Picture a channel full of wildlife then add hundreds if not thousands of elephant – suddenly it becomes seriously crowded. Elephants can be seen chasing all sorts of wildlife around that dare to drink in their vicinity.
Following the buffalo, the DumaTau lion pride now numbers 18 including three small cubs, while leopard-viewing is something to behold. In an area of just 1,000ha, we have recorded 10 different individuals – including five adult females, three of them which currently have cubs! This puts the leopard concentration at one of the highest anywhere in Africa.
We have also had one or two sightings of nervous cheetah but they remain elusive. Wild dog on the other hand have made a comeback. I spotted five in pursuit of a kudu. They chased it into a pod of 30 hippos and incredibly, the hippos chased it back to the wild dogs, who quickly took it down at the edge of the channel!
The smaller creatures are showing nicely – we have had some good sightings of both species of jackal, porcupine, African wild cat, genet and even a caracal in the last week. Bird-viewing is great too – storks have moved in, while eagles and vultures are finding ample meat to feed on.
The question remains – how far will the channel push this year? One thing is for sure though – if you get the opportunity in the next few months, come see this wonder of nature.”
Wilderness Safaris operates 3 wonderful camps with privileged access to the Savute Channel. To make a booking, please contact one of our Africa specialists.