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Lake Ngami
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Lake Ngami

Lake Ngami in northwestern Botswana looks set to become the top birding spot in southern Africa for this year and next. Good rains throughout Ngamiland District, coupled with the highest floodwater levels in the Okavango in the last 20 years, makes the extensive flooding of the now dry Lake Ngami a certainty.

Lake Ngami is one of Botswana’s 12 Important Bird Areas (IBAs). Even when dry, it meets the criteria set by BirdLife International for qualification as an IBA, due to the presence of globally threatened and near-threatened species such as the Lesser Kestrel and Black-winged Pratincole, and numerous range-restricted and biome-restricted species such as the Kalahari Robin, Hartlaub’s Babbler, and Burchell’s Sandgrouse, among others.

However, when flooded, the birdlife is exceptionally prolific and varied, with the emphasis on large numbers of congregatory waterbirds (more than 1% of the global populations of many species). In 1979, when the Lake was at its heyday, Douthwaite counted 27,000 Red-billed Teal and 7,000 Hottentot Teal.

In 1989, 10,000 Black-winged Pratincole and a similar number of Collared Pratincoles were counted, with over 1,000 Whiskered Terns. Birds recorded breeding include Reed Cormorant, African Darter, Rufous-bellied Heron, Green-backed Heron, Goliath Heron, Grey Heron, Sacred Ibis, Fulvous Duck, White-backed Duck and Red-knobbed Coot.

There are no tourist facilities at Lake Ngami, and birdwatchers wishing to camp in the area should be prepared to make a contribution to the local community. If in doubt as to how to go about this, or for further information on the birds at the Lake, contact Pete Hancock at BirdLife Botswana, telephone +267 6865618 or 6860252 or e-mail birdlifemaun@botsnet.bw


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Birdlife Botswana - PO Box 26691, Game City, Gaborone, Botswana
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