Gift of the Rains: Okavango – The Miracle River (2001)
One of Africa’s most remarkable rivers spreads its waters over the desolate plains of the Kalahari Desert, forming the largest inland delta on Earth, the Okavango. Fed by the summer rains that fall over southern Angola, the Okavango River flows into the heart of the desert in Botswana. The water flows slowly over the flat expanse of the Kalahari and fans out into shallow lagoons and wide floodplains.
Water plants germinate in the newly flooded lagoons and provide food for many water birds. At this time, several bird species such as marabou storks and herons breed and raise their young, living side by side in heronries.
As the floodwaters recede, African skimmers also breed, hatch and fledge their brood. In the shrinking channels of the delta, thousands of fish are chased out of hiding by barbel weaving among the reeds. The fish are also caught by egrets, storks and herons from above. Another predator which benefits from the barbel run is the Cape clawless otter, which preys on the barbel themselves.
As the water recedes further, the desert reclaims its land, except for a few permanent streams and lagoons. Eventually, the summer rains replenish the Okavango, and the delta once again becomes a bountiful oasis.