Okavango Delta Wildlife

Okavango Delta Wildlife

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Okavango Delta


Okavango Delta Wildlife boasts a myriad of species that thrive in the rich and diverse ecosystem comprising floodplains, woodlands, lagoons, channels and palm-fringed islands. From majestic elephants to elusive leopards to vibrant birdlife, the Okavango Delta hosts a great number of wild animals both permanently and seasonally.

Situated in the heart of Botswana, the fascinating inland delta Okavanga is blessed with an astounding variety of flora and fauna. This offers a truly captivating experience to both nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts. While Okavango Delta Safari is a perfect gateway to uncovering the natural wonders within its ecological haven, Botswana Safari Tours can simultaneously bring you up close to the vibrant ecosystem. So, let’s take you on a journey to Okavango to experience its remarkable wildlife.

Unique Ecosystem In Okavango Delta

  • The Okavango Delta spans approximately 16,000 square kilometres and is fed by the Okavango River, which originates in Angola and travels through Namibia before reaching Botswana.
  • The delta's unique ecosystem is shaped by an annual flood cycle. As the annual floodwaters inundate the delta, new habitats emerge, resulting in a constantly evolving landscape. The Okavango Wildlife adapts accordingly.

Falcon Insight: During the wet season, mainly the large animals of Okavango go far from the Delta to graze on the luscious green grass that surrounds it. As the grazing comes to get over in the dry season or winters, the animals tend to get back to the delta. This seasonal shift of Okavango Wildlife between the arid region that surrounds the delta and the delta itself is dynamic and influences the timing of your Okavango Delta Safari.

Okavango Delta Wildlife Facts

  • 160 species of mammals are found in the Okavango Delta, including the Big Five.
  • Huge numbers of Savanna Elephants, common Hippopotamus, and Buffaloes call Okavango their home.
  • Red Lechwe and Sitatunga are found in good numbers. Though, the latter is not easy to locate.
  • The most abundant antelope is Impala.
  • The Okavango Delta birdlife consists of 530 species. The majority of them are breeding residents.
  • 155 species of reptiles and 35 species of amphibians are present throughout the Okavango.

Okavango Delta Big Five

Many travellers are eager to catch a glimpse of the legendary big Five on Botswana Safari. Especially for them, a visit to Okavango Delta can be quite fruitful. The Delta shelters all the species of the Big Five including the critically endangered rhinoceros.  Look at the table below for some more information on the Big Five in Okavango Delta.

Members of the Big Five


African Elephant

Elephants are an integral part of the ecosystem of Okavango. They are credited for carving channels that ease the flow of water further into the Delta. Around, 130,000 individuals are present, although officials claim the number to be much higher.

Savanna Buffalo

At least 60,000 Savanna Buffalos are present. They are often located near permanent water sources such as rivers, channels, and floodplains, where they graze on grasses.


Okavango lions are special as they have adapted uniquely to the wetland system.

You are going to spot a pride of lions, three to thirty members on your Okavango Delta Safari.


Primarily found in wooded areas and on islands, where they can find cover and ambush prey.


Both black and white rhinos are rare in the delta. They can be found in protected areas of Chief’s Island.

There are more white rhinos than black rhinos in the Okavango Delta. Black rhinos are only 40 in number.

Note: The distribution of these animals may vary due to seasonal changes, availability of food, and water resources. For the best wildlife viewing experiences, come for Botswana Safari Tours in the dry season. Also, you can check out our Botswana Safari Packages for a comprehensive safari experience.

Other Notable Animals In Okavango Delta


The Plains Zebra resident population occurs in Okavango. While Serengeti takes the honour of the largest Zebra migration, not many know that the second largest migration of Zebra happens to be in Okavango Delta. Around 25,000 zebras are known to migrate annually. These animals are often found in the drier areas of Okavango.


Southern giraffes are found throughout the system. But, they are known to favour the region with acacia trees more. Also, it has been found that giraffes native to Okavango are known to suffer from a strange eye infection. Scientists are currently studying and researching it. So, it’s advisable to always observe a safe distance from wild animals on your Okavango Delta Safari.


Common Hippopotamuses are widely spread across the delta. You might not spot other prominent animals on an Okavango Safari, but you are always going to spot hippos and that too, abundantly. It is believed that there are around 2500 hippos in the Delta region and is more often spotted lazing around the water.

Predators of Okavango

The predator's list Of Okavango Delta Wildlife includes lions, leopards, cheetahs, spotted hyenas and a great population of African wild dogs. In fact, Okavango is one of the best places in the world to spot wild dogs.  It is because the area of northern Botswana is one of the remaining regions where a viable population of wild dogs exists. Other small carnivores of Okavango are dwarf, and slender mongooses

Okavango Delta Wildlife - Antelopes

Some of the popular antelope species of Okavango include:

  • The most abundant antelope present in Okavango is Impala, with around 140,000 individuals.
  • Red Lechwe, around 60,000, lives close to deeper waters, particularly on floodplains.
  • Sitatunga is around hundreds in number. But they are difficult to locate.
  • Common warthogs can be easily located.
  • Bushpigs are only found in areas of dense bush and reedbeds.

Other antelope species of Okavango are blue wildebeest, Tsessebe, greater kudu, southern reedbuck, bushbuck, sable and roan antelope.

Okavango Delta Birdlife

Okavango is a famous birding destination with a record of more than 530 bird species. As walking along with guides is one of the main activities that is carried out on Okavango Delta Safari, simultaneous birding tends to be productive too. Also, guests to Okavango can take a view of the spectacular birdlife while gliding through the channels in a mokoro (dugout canoe).

Although the best time for birdwatching in Okavango is throughout the year, still the ideal time is believed to be in the wet season when summer migrants march onto the delta.

Key Takeaway: It is possible to even spot around 140 specific birds on a single day of Botswana Safari to Okavango.

Some of the most iconic species of birds located on Okavango Delta Safari Packages include Pel’s fishing owl, African Jacana, Slaty egret, White-backed night heron, malachite kingfisher, Pygmy goose and wattled Crane.

Other notable species of Okavango are flamingoes, lilac-breasted roller, kori bustard, bateleur eagles, southern ground hornbills and rock pratincole.

Our Tip: For the best possible birding experience, go through our Okavango Delta Safari Packages that will take you on the best safaris to the delta.

Okavango Delta Reptiles And Amphibians

Among reptiles, the most obvious ones are Nile Crocodiles that occurs along the lake edge and river mouths. Apart from that, the delta is home to several snake species, including venomous species like the black mamba, puff adder, and Mozambique spitting cobra. Some non-venomous species such as the African rock python and the brown house snake are also found.

Various species of lizards and geckos inhabit the delta, including the striking flap-necked chameleon, the giant-plated lizard, and the barking gecko. These reptiles have adapted to thrive in the diverse environments found within the delta.

The Okavango Delta's wetlands are also home to numerous frog and toad species, such as the painted reed frog, the African bullfrog, and the guttural toad. These amphibians play a vital role in the ecosystem, acting as both predators and prey.

Okavango Delta Fishes

The delta's waters are teeming with various fish species, supporting a complex food web. Some of the most common species include tigerfish, bream, catfish, and yellowfish. Fish play a crucial role in the Okavango Delta's ecosystem, serving as a vital food source for birds, reptiles, and mammals. They also help maintain the water's quality by feeding on algae, detritus, and other organic matter

Okavango Delta Nature’s Marvels

As an integral part of Botswana Wildlife, the Okavango Delta Wildlife presents an unparalleled opportunity to witness the incredible synergy of flora and fauna in this awe-inspiring region. A journey to this vibrant oasis will leave a lasting impression while connecting visitors with the exceptional wonders of nature.

Also, to ensure a seamless and memorable trip, consider selecting customized Okavango Delta Safari Packages or broader Botswana Safari Packages with us. These expertly curated options cater to your needs, allowing you to look into the captivating world of Okavango Delta Safari and explore the diverse wonders of Botswana's stunning landscapes.

Frequently Asked Questions

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The Okavango Delta is home to a wide variety of species, including African elephants, lions, leopards, cheetahs, hippos, African buffalo, giraffes, zebras, and various antelope species such as red lechwe and sitatunga. The area also hosts a large number of bird species, making it a birdwatcher's paradise.

There are several ways to explore the Okavango Delta, including game drives, guided bush walks, mokoro (traditional dugout canoe) excursions, and motorboat safaris. Each of these activities provides different opportunities for observing and interacting with the delta's diverse wildlife.

Yes, it is generally safe to view wildlife in the Okavango Delta, especially when accompanied by experienced guides. However, it is Important to follow safety guidelines and maintain a respectful distance from animals to ensure both your safety and the well-being of the wildlife.

The Okavango Delta is home to several endangered and vulnerable species, including the African wild dog, the white and black rhinoceros, and cheetahs. Conservation efforts are ongoing to protect these and other species within the region.

The Okavango Delta is a haven for birdwatchers, boasting over 530 recorded bird species. Some notable species include the African fish eagle, Pel's fishing owl, saddle-billed stork, wattled crane, and various species of kingfishers, herons, and bee-eaters. The rainy season (November to April) is particularly rewarding for birdwatching, as migratory species arrive in the delta.

Yes, responsible wildlife viewing practices are strongly encouraged in the Okavango Delta. These include maintaining a respectful distance from animals, not feeding or disturbing them, and adhering to the guidance of your professional safari guides. Additionally, choose eco-friendly lodges and tour operators that prioritize sustainable practices and support local conservation efforts.

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