During the 1970s and 80s, the flood levels in the Okavango were higher than average, but by the end of this period they declined and the outflow down the Thamalakane and Boteti Rivers no longer reached Rakops and the Mopipi reservoir at the distal end. Since large quantities of water were needed at the Orapa diamond mine, the Nhabe Channel was blocked, thereby diverting water down the Boteti River towards the Mopipi reservoir from whence it was pumped to Orapa. Of course, this deprived people living along the Nhabe from their water supply, but by the mid-nineties this did not make any difference since the Okavango waters ended in Maun, some 25 kilometres short.
The position of the bund at the start of the Nhabe channel
Work in progress - the pipes have been removed and the bund is being levelled (Photo: P Hancock)
It is likely that the Nhabe Channel will once again support large numbers of waterfowl (Photos: W Tarboton)
Once the Nhabe Channel becomes more permanent, aquatic vegetation in the form of reeds, sedges and waterlilies will become re-established, and provide suitable habitat for African and Lesser jacanas, African Pygmy-Geese and Whiskered Terns. The riparian woodland that has degenerated over the past two decades will also recover and boost numbers of frugivores such as Meyer’s Parrot, Burchell’s and Meves’s starling, Black-collared Barbet and Grey Go-away-bird.