Great Parks of Africa episode 6: Chobe is Botswana’s first national park, as well as the name of the mighty river that runs through it. Explore how its iconic species, like elephants, baboons, and lions, pass on their secrets of survival to the youngest members of their families.
Scattered throughout the wild lands of Africa are a number of protected havens that shelter some of the continent’s most iconic wildlife. Explore these majestic natural sanctuaries dedicated to the preservation of the continent’s rich yet vulnerable wildlife heritage.
Great Parks of Africa episode 6 – Chobe Land of Learning
Chobe National Park is Botswana’s first national park, and also the most biologically diverse. Located in the north of the country, it is Botswana’s third largest park, after Central Kalahari Game Reserve and Gemsbok National Park, and has one of the greatest concentrations of game in all of Africa.
The park is noted for having a population of lions which prey on African elephants, mostly juveniles or subadults but occasionally adults.
The original inhabitants of this area were the San bushmen (also known as the Basarwa people in Botswana). They were nomadic hunter-gatherers who were constantly moving from place to place to find food sources, namely fruits, water and wild animals. Nowadays one can find San paintings inside rocky hills of the park.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the region that would become Botswana was divided into different land tenure systems. At that time, a major part of the park’s area was classified as crown land. The idea of a national park to protect the varied wildlife found here as well as promote tourism first appeared in 1931. The following year, 24,000 km2 around Chobe district were officially declared non-hunting area; this area was expanded to 31,600 km2 two years later.
In 1943, heavy tsetse infestations occurred throughout the region, delaying the creation of the national park. By 1953, the project received governmental attention again: 21,000 km2 were suggested to become a game reserve. Chobe Game Reserve was officially created in 1960, though smaller than initially desired. In 1967, the reserve was declared a national park.