The Okavango Delta is formed by the inflow of the Okavango River which owes its origin from the Cuito and Cubango River Systems in Angola. The two rivers become one big river along the boundary of Angola and Namibia. It is called the Kavango in Namibia and Okavango in Botswana. The Okavango River flows through Namibia’s Caprivi Strip and enters Botswana in the north-western corner at Mohembo Village.
The Okavango River flows through the panhandle in a well-defined relatively narrow channel of some 95 km. The river splits into three major tributaries, namely: the Thaoge in the west, the Boro in the middle, and the Ngogha (Nggokga) in the east. These channels divide further into a series of small channels which continually battle for ascendancy. Some of these channels include the Gomoti, Khwai and Santatadibe.
The channels make the Okavango River to spread out into an alluvial fan forming an inland drainage area of a considerable size. The Okavango Delta covers an area of about 22,000 square kilometres but other scholars put the figure at 16,000 square kilometres. The Okavango Delta as a vast swamp and floodplain which covers about three percent of the total surface land area of Botswana of which half is permanently flooded. Technically, the Okavango Delta is not a delta, but a class of alluvial fan slightly conical and approximately triangular in shape.
The Okavango Delta overlies a sedimentary basin that has been in existence with progressive down warping and faulting since the late Mesozoic period. This tectonic activity is reflected in a series of faults, the principal ones being the northeast to southwest trending faults known as the Kunyere and the Thamalakane faults and the Gumare faults lying to the north. These faults play a major role in controlling the flow and sedimentation in the delta.
The Okavango Delta is important as a tourism resource, because of the wildlife it sustains and its scenic beauty. Like other wetlands in the world, it provides good breeding areas for wildlife, birds, amphibians, aquatic mammals and fish. The Okavango River and its delta’s mosaic of open water, wetlands and grasslands are home to innumerable species, including 5 000 insects, 3 000 plants, 540 birds, 164 mammals, 157 reptiles, 80 fish and countless micro-organisms.
Wild animals, birds, and plant life are considered the most important natural resources in the Okavango Basin. Large herbivores such as elephants, buffaloes, zebra and a variety of small game such as impala, kudu, red lechwe, and ostrich are found in the region. Wildlife resources and other natural resources like veld products have direct and indirect influences on the lives of people living in the region.
Thirty-two large mammals which together with the crocodile and the ostrich make up thirty-four game animals of the Okavango Delta which are classified as under the Wildlife Conservation and National Parks Act of 1992 (OCC, 1995). The rich wildlife diversity of the Okavango Delta led to some parts of it being declared a protected area called the Moremi Game Reserve which covers approximately 3 900 square kilometers. The remaining areas are divided into Controlled Hunting Areas where wildlife is allowed to roam freely in large numbers.