Chobe Linyanti System
Department of National Museum and Monuments
North West Botswana, Chobe District
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The Chobe Linyanti System comprises the Linyanti River in the north and the Chobe National Park in the east. The Chobe National Park in northwest Botswana has one of the largest game concentrations on the African continent and is the most diverse park in Botswana. It covers an area of 11,700 square kilometers and by size, is the third largest park in the country, after the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and the Gemsbok National Park. The park is divided into four distinctly different ecosystems. The Serondela area (or Chobe riverfront), is situated in the extreme northeast of the park. It has many geographical features such as lush plains and dense teak forests. The Chobe River, which flows along the northeastern border of the park, is a drinking spot for elephants and buffaloes during the dry season.
The Savuti Marsh area is the relic of a large inland lake whose water supply was cut a long time ago by tectonic movements. The marsh is currently fed by the erratic Savuti channel, which dries up when rainfall is not abundant and floods up at other times. The channel can also stop flowing during long periods then curiously flows again, a consequence of tectonic activity in the area. The channel only began filling with water again in 2008. Before this time, it last flowed from 1967 to 1981 and so until recently, the resident animals here only experienced this channel as dry grassland. However this cycle of wet and dry is a phenomenon that has occurred on and off here over the centuries. As a result of this variable flow, there are hundreds of dead trees along the channels banks. The region is also covered with extensive savannas and rolling grasslands, which makes wildlife particularly dynamic in this section of the park. In this area at dry season one can see warthogs, kudus, impalas, zebras, wildebeests and elephants. At rain seasons the rich birdlife of the park about 450 species in the whole of the park is represented. Packs of lions, hyenas, zebras or more rarely cheetahs are visible as well. This region is reputed for its annual migration of zebras and predators.
The Linyanti Marsh, located at the northwest corner of the park and to the north of Savuti, is adjacent to Linyanti River. To the west of this area lies Selinda Reserve and on the northern bank of Kwando River is Namibia's Mamili National Park. The area around the two rivers consists of riverine woodlands, open woodlands as well as lagoons, and the rest of the region mainly consists of flood plains. Here there are large concentrations of lions, leopards, wild dogs, roan antelopes, sable antelopes, hippopotamuses above all enormous herds of elephants. The rare red lechwe, sitatunga and crocodile also occur in the area as well as the rich birdlife. Finally a hot and dry hinterland, mainly occupied by the Nogatsaa grass woodland lie between Linyanti and Savuti marshes. The area retains water well into the harsh dry season and thus attracts a profusion of game between August and October and is particularly good for viewing the rare and majestic eland antelope.
The Chobe National Park is probably known for its spectacular elephant population of over 50 000 today which is actually the highest elephant concentration in Africa. Most of these are probably part of the largest continuous surviving elephant population on earth. Elephants living here are Kalahari elephants, the largest in size of all known elephant populations.
Justification of Outstanding Universal Value
The Chobe Linyanti area is one of the most distinct ecosystems in Africa and probably one of the world's last true remaining wilderness areas. Most parts of the area such as the Linyanti and Selinda reserve are still intact as they are the least visited and found in the most pristine corners of Botswana. The Chobe National Park has an amazing variety of habitats, ranging from floodplains, baobab, and mopane trees and acacia woodlands, to verdant flood grasslands and thickets bordering the Chobe River. This amazing variety of habitats is home to huge herds of elephant, buffalo, and Burchell's zebra and high densities of predators such as Lion, Leopard, Spotted hyena and Cheetah; unusual antelope species like Roan and Sable, Puku, Tsessebe, Eland, Red Lechwe, Waterbuck, and the rare Chobe Bushbuck. The habitats are also home to about 440 species of birds.
The Chobe Lenyanti area satisfies criteria ix and x for natural properties
(ix) be outstanding examples representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals.
The Chobe Linyanti area represents significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of fresh water and communities of plants and animals. In the northern boundaries of the Chobe National Park flows the Linyanti and Chobe Rivers which support a large variety of animals and plants. In the south part of the park the Savuti channel brings life to the Mababe Depression. This channel experiences a cycle of wet and dry periods, which when filled with water supports a variety of wildlife. This cycle of wet and dry periods is a result of tectonic activities in the area. The Selinda reserve is also an outstanding example of the evolution and development of ecosystems in the Chobe Linyanti area. It is one of Botswana's premier wildlife havens and most unique ecosystem. It lies in a fortunate position as it is the only reserve to straddle both the Okavango Delta (to the south) and the Linyanti system (to the east). This fortuitous position makes Selinda Reserve a haven for wildlife migrating between the two ecosystems, along the Selinda Spillway. The Selinda Spillway is the lifeline connecting the two ecosystems, and is a river with the unique characteristic of flowing in two directions. Water pushes 'up' from the Linyanti waterways and also 'down' from the south, fed by the rising floodwaters of the Okavango Delta.
(x) contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.
The many varied habitats within the Chobe and Linyanti parks such as marshes, waterways, riverine forests, dry woodlands and the world famous Savuti channel have created an area renowned for its predators and large concentrations of game, particularly elephant. The area is home to the rarer red lechwe and sitatunga and unusual antelope species like Roan and Sable, Puku, Tsessebe, Eland, Waterbuck and the rare Chobe Bushbuck. The Linyanti/Chobe wetlands support a wide range of bird species. This includes regionally threatened species which include Ciconia episcopus, Anastomus lamelligerus, Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis, Leptoptilos crumeniferus, Caprimulgus natalensis. Regionally near threatened species include Gorsachius leuconotus, Macheirampus alcinus, Podica senegalensis, Microparra capensis, Vanellus albiceps, V. crassirostris, Gallinula angulata and Centropus grillii
Statements of authenticity and/or integrity
The Chobe Linyanti area with its amazing variety of ecosystems is able to accommodate a variety of community of plants and animals. Due to its remoteness and very little developments except for limited tourism activities taking place in the area, it has retained its pristine environment. The Chobe National Park is a protected area under the Wildlife Conservation and National Parks Act of 1992, as such the wildlife in the area is well protected. The Department of Wildlife and National Parks with its effective Anti-Poaching Unit has managed to successfully protect the wildlife as shown by the decline in the number of animals lost due to poaching. Outside of the sanctuary of Chobe, northern Botswana is divided into parcels of land commonly referred to as concessions. These concession areas only offer non-consumptive tourism activities such as photography and very few lodges and campsites
Comparison with other similar properties
The Chobe area contains the largest population of free ranging elephants in Africa. Tremendous biodiversity values are present in the area with large and small mammals, amphibians and reptiles (crocodiles, etc), fish, and birds fauna influenced by flooded grasslands existing in the area and comparable to the Okavango Delta and the rich savannas in the East African Rift Valley. The Linyanti Marsh which is adjacent to Linyanti River, has large concentrations of lions, leopards, wild dogs, roan antelopes, sable antelopes, hippopotamuses above all enormous herds of elephants than other African ecological setups.