The Wonderlands of Africa’s WetlandsJanuary 31, 2020
Today we celebrate World Wetlands Day and raise awareness about the importance of these sites of rich wildlife.
Throughout Africa, wetlands form some of the most important, productive ecosystems on the continent, often acting as the primary source of water, food and shelter for a diverse range of life. From the smallest insect to the largest mammal, the lives of Africa’s wild inhabitants are often inextricably linked to wetlands.
The role of wetlands in supporting a wide range of biodiversity has been recognized officially since 1971 in the intergovernmental Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance. According to Ramsar, wetlands globally play an integral role in the removal of environmental pollutants from the environment, climate protection, water absorption and habitation of up to 40% of all wildlife species.
We take a look at three wetlands found in Kenya, Zambia and Botswana:
At the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro in southern Kenya, the melting snow off the mountain’s permanent snowcap feeds into a large wetland called Kimana in Amboseli National Park.
Kimana wetland area is approximately 10 square kilometers with other small wetlands along the rivers and acts as an vital water stop for wildlife migrating between Amboseli and Tsavo national parks, particularly impressive herds of elephants and other large mammal species.
The vast Busanga floodplains and wetland spread out for millions of hectares over Kafue National Park in north-western reaches of Zambia.
The wetlands are dominated by papyrus reeds and extend beyond into grassland plains dotted with small islands. Due to its remoteness, Busanga is a pristine environment that offers expansive grazing areas for huge herds of buffalo and rare antelope species like the red lechwe, sable and sitatunga.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site and Africa’s most important wetland system, the Okavango Delta fans out across northern Botswana taking up anywhere between 15000 to 22000 square kilometers.
Nicknamed “the river that never finds the sea”, the Okavango is one of just a handful of major inland delta systems that does not flow into the ocean. It is a critical natural sanctuary for highly endangered species such as cheetah, rhinos, African wild dogs and wattled crane.
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