The Savuti Channel has begun to flow again after almost 30 years of being dry and the area is undergoing great change, with animals having to adapt to this new environment and providing some of the most thrilling wildlife interaction in Africa.
© Elephants 0n Your Doorstep at Savuti Camp
Place of Contrasts
Savute has a fascinating history
with the records of early explorers showing a place of contrasts. Some journals speak of a wildlife rich Eden with plenty of water whereas others record a dry and arid desert. But what is it about Savute that is so beguiling and how is it that the reports of early explorers are so conflicting?
Visiting Savute today it is difficult imagining anything other than a place of water and wildlife, with a channel flowing through the region and a waterlogged marsh indicating an area that is the lifeblood of the dry hinterland surrounding it. But it is only in the past two years that this has been so.
Savute is controlled by a phenomenon
that has only recently been understood. Botswana lies on very unstable ground with many earth tremors occurring annually and it is with these tremors that the Savute channel is blocked at its source in the Linyanti swamp. With a tremor the ground at the source may be forced up, blocking the water flow - but it is the same forces that open channel again into the dry wilderness.
Savute Channel Dries Up
In the early 1980s residents in the area began to notice something strange happening in Savute. The water in the channel began to drop
and the Marsh began to dry up, with scenes of great stress and drama taking place all around the Savute. The realisation dawned that the Savute channel had stopped flowing and the area would soon become dry and arid.
It was known to the residents of the area that the channel had a history of drying up and flowing over periods of undetermined time so they prepared for the worst.
The Dry Period
As the area dried up the idea arose to sink three boreholes to provide water for the animals of Savute and over time these waterholes came to symbolise the Savute of legend. The great herds moved away, only returning during the rainy season when the lush grasses on the marsh appeared and the water on the ground was plentiful, but many animals adapted to the new environment and the Savute became known for its predator interaction.
In early 2008 it was noticed that the water had began to creep along Savute channel from its source in the Linyanti and most people wondered if it would ever reach the Marsh. It took two years but the water finally began to spread out on the Marsh in 2010, 30 years after it began to dry up.
Savute today is a paradise of water and grassland
surrounded by the endless wilderness of Northern Botswana. It is the lifeblood of the area and attracts thousands of animals to its life-giving waters, a far cry from the haunting arid place of the past 30 years.