Published on January 2016 in Our Africa Safaris
Photo Credit: Wilderness Safaris
In time, and with water, everything changes.
Leonardo Da Vinci
The Okavango Delta’s Moremi Game Reserve is a world treasure. Its distinguished role today in wilderness conservation was created through yesterday’s foresight of Pulane Moremi, ruler of the Batawana tribe and widow of Chief Moremi III.
In 1963 she was armed with her tribe’s blessings and her own moral outrage to take action and stop the random hunting on these tribal landholdings, a source of wildlife and ecological destruction in the central and eastern parts of the Okavango Delta. This early eco-guardianship led her to establish a unique structure within Botswana: that an entire third of her tribal lands would be designated as an exclusive game reserve that would remain so in perpetuity. Shortly, and motivated by her action, Botswana’s government outlawed hunting throughout the entire Okavango Delta. Both parameters remain fully intact today.
The Moremi Game Reserve is the outstanding result of the Regent’s conservation awareness. Implemented over half a century ago, it is considered Southern Africa’s most spectacular game park. The Moremi Game Reserve is home to Africa’s ‘Big Five” – African elephant, Cape Buffalo, leopard, lion and rhino. Though that term was coined by XIXth century hunters to designate their challenge, it has come to identify XXth century awareness and preservation focus for those same remarkable animals, partly funded through Botswana’s rigorous attention and management of its wildlife tourism sector. This abode of the “Big Five” underscores the Moremi’s accolade, “Predator Capital of Southern Africa.”
While both an early and spectacular conservation triumph, the Regent’s actions established also the first-ever, tribe-administered game park in southern Africa. The Moremi Game Reserve is an exemplary venture in sustainable tourism management.
Its varied ecosystems comprise pristine wetlands, sweeping landscapes, inspired woodlands and diverse habitats across some 1900 square miles. Wildlife roams freely, safe from human predators. Safari photographers, though, immortalize this wildlife list on film, video and in pixels to include blue wildebeest, cheetah, crocodile, giraffe, hippopotamus, hyena, impala, jackal, mongoose, water monitor, waterbuck, wildcat, zebra and a wide-ranging array of raptors and water birds.
Chief’s Island in The Moremi Game Reserve
Within the Reserve is Chief Moremi’s former royal hunting grounds, now called Chief’s Island. Located in the very heart of the Okavango Delta, the raw beauty of Chief’s Island – stunningly pristine and undisturbed – provides a sensuous slice of the African soul. It inspires that adage, ‘Take only photos. Leave only footprints.’
Wilderness Safari’s Jao Camp resides on Chief’s Island. This breathtaking camp is built on raised walkways of African rosewood that criss-cross the property to separate guests and to safeguard the animals’ unobstructed passing below. This platform insures safe observation of the amazing animal life that moves unencumbered below the stilts and across the island. Elephants slosh through the waters just below the lodges – a favorite sound of native islanders and guests alike.