My take on touring and hunting the “Caprivi Strip” Part II

by david on March 17, 2015

There is another conundrum I feel compelled to mention: hunting habitat versus non- hunting habitat. The Chobe river forms the border between Namibia and Botswana, and the view from each side looking toward the other is dramatically different. Looking from the Botswana side into Namibia, the view is of a lush green riverine environment with ample game in both variety and quantity. Looking from Namibia into Botswana, the contrast is striking. There are plenty of animals (remember it is Chobe National Park) but the flora is missing. The only vegetation visible consists of trees. There is nothing green or brown in that matter in the form of ground cover no grass, no weeds, no flowers, nothing. Even along the riverbank, where there is ample water year-round for growth to occur, there is nothing but bare dirt. I can only assume it was consumed by the tens of thousands of animals inhabiting Chobe. Even the shorter trees and shrubs were eaten down to bunches of spindly sticks. Why the striking difference, you ask? In my humble opinion, the animals in Chobe are vastly overpopulated. Why is that? In this country boy’s mind, the answer is simple. Botswana does not allow hunting.

Without a mechanism to keep populations in check, wildlife populations will continue to grow until the food runs out and there is a massive die off. It has happened before in Africa and will happen again. It happens here in the US to a lesser degree. All hunters know for the most part game populations run in cycles. When the weather and food supply cooperate, birth rates go up and the animal population increases. When the food runs out from over usage or drought, the population dies off and the cycle starts over again. Hunters play an important role in they can help keep populations in a steady sustainable range and avoiding excess population. I am afraid that Botswana’s ban on hunting is going to add fuel to the fire of an already overpopulated wildlife situation. Looking at the Botswana side, things look disconcerting to say the least.

Looking at the Namibian side of things is this a cause for concern or a potential boom to hunters? In Namibia the local population of animals are well fed and happy, but for how long? A great number of buffalo and elephant already cross to feed nightly and the plains game will soon be joining them. With the increased population, Namibia will be forced into one of three decisions. The first would also be the worst, and that is to do nothing. The Namibian side of the river would soon be over grazed and the die off would only be delayed and affect two countries instead of only one. The second and slightly better would be to cull the excess animals. Culling is a process in which government employed shooters kill off excess game. This is slightly better because it would allow the opportunity to selectively reduce the populations with a “trophy management” emphasis. Doing so would allow the remaining animals to be bigger, stronger and better trophies by passing along their superior genetics as the culling removes the inferior genetics. Another benefit of this method would be the amount of food made available to the local population. The third and best option would be to have a hunting fire sale of sorts. Since there are many animals to be shot the prices charged by the government could come down and more hunters could afford to hunt. The increased number of hunters would have a positive effect on reducing the number of animals and the wildlife numbers could be stabilized. With just a little annual tweaking this process could be maintained until the Botswana side has recovered and the populations on both sides are healthy again. If only half of these new hunters were bitten by the African hunting but as I was there would be many, many more returning hunters. These returning hunters generate a dependable income stream for Africa for years to come. Once again there would be plenty of food for the local population. A win-win situation if I ever saw one.

Will my prophetic vision of despair come to be? I certainly hope not and would even go so far to say probably not. If that is the case why even mention it? We need to start thinking ahead when it comes to taking care of wildlife and the environment. As a species, man tends to let something happen and then have a knee-jerk response that is not well thought out and often causes more problems than it fixes. Will the governments in Africa read or even listen to what I put down on paper? Probably not, but if enough people get started down the same thought path, the idea will eventually get big enough and then it will get their attention.

Enough gloom and doom. The Caprivi (I am holding out on using the “Zambezi Region”) is a phenomenal destination, one every hunter and photographer should visit someday. My wife and I had an absolutely wonderful trip and in the pages that follow I am going to describe our adventure and tell you how to plan one of your own. From the houseboat on the river, to hunting camp and ending up at Victoria falls the trip was amazing. I thought about using the term “once in a lifetime” but that is absolutely not going to be correct. I am already planning to go back and hopefully take some friends along on an adventure of their own. Africa’s call is too strong for me to resist.

Almost nothing left to eat on the Botswana side. Almost nothing left to eat on the Botswana side.


Plenty of food for the elephants on the Namibian side of the Chobe river. Plenty of food for the elephants on the Namibian side of the Chobe river.



Looking from Botswana into Namibia. The river is just past the green trees. Looking from Botswana into Namibia. The river is just past the green trees.

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