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The Mombo Area

Northwest of Chief's Island

Unlike the water-inundated areas of the Okavango Delta, the habitats here vary from open grasslands, secluded island sanctuaries and papyrus-fringed channels to low sandy islands and dry land on which animals and plants flourish. Ancient floodplains, long since dried up, form permanent savannah divided by swathes of dense mopane and acacia woodland. Raised, tree-covered islands of a variety of shapes and sizes are common, ranging from a single termite mound to large landmasses. Trees such as real fan palms, sycomore figs, jackal-berry and mangosteen characterise these island communities separated by open grassland and fragrant wild sage.

This habitat is more familiar to those who dream of the Africa of nature documentaries: open grassland plains dotted with acacia trees and thickets. It is on these plains that the larger mammals move in their numbers.

Mombo Camp and Little Mombo are situated on Mombo Island, an extension of the north-western end of Chief's Island which effectively divides the Okavango Delta into eastern and western sections. The whole of Chief's Island and Mombo fall within the Moremi Game Reserve, and, in particular a zone set aside for "low intensity" safari use. Thus Mombo Camp and Little Mombo are remarkably exclusive and remote.

The sheer numbers and diversity of mammals found in this area all year round simply defy description, from herds of buffalo to the diminutive steenbok, a pretty dwarf antelope species. Elephant, impala, spotted hyaena, lion, leopard and cheetah are all found here and even small predators like serval and side-striped jackal are occasionally seen.

This abundance and variety owes much to the area's position on the ecotone between the ancient Kalahari sands and vegetation of Chief's Island, and the more modern, water-borne sediments and grasses of the Okavango Delta fan to the west. In addition, the annual inundation and drying of the floodplains to the west of Camp Mombo allow the large numbers of wildlife to utilise both habitats to the maximum. When the inundation of water arrives in the area between March and May each year, large mammals are able to move into the Chief's Island area, which contains rich resources of grass and Acacia dominated woodland. The wetlands are fringed by large hardwood trees, containing shade, cover, nesting areas, and food, for a wide variety of mammals and birds. By September and October the wetlands have started to recede leaving behind vast floodplains of short green grass when the rest of the large islands are at their driest. It is this seasonal food availability and quality that has resulted in the excitement and diversity that is the Mombo area.

Birdlife is prolific, with waterfowl like African Jacana, Pygmy-Geese, massive Goliath Heron and migrant waders in summer being particularly common.

Such geomorphological evolution and variety in vegetation has resulted in a richness and diversity that is legendary amongst the original tribesmen and hunters of the 19th and 20th centuries and the Moremi Game Reserve was amongst the first to be promulgated by tribal request in an effort to protect this legacy.




  

 

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