Botswana′s Okavango Delta: World Heritage Site under threat | Global Ideas | DW | 09.12.2021

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Global Ideas

Botswana's Okavango Delta: World Heritage Site under threat

Environmental organizations are raising the alarm over mining for oil and gas in the world's largest cross-border nature reserve, known for its biodiversity and unique landscapes.

Watch video 06:32

Namibia: Drilling for oil in paradise

Five African countries have joined forces to protect the region around the Okavango Delta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Botswana.

The transnational Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, or KAZA, is known for its biodiversity and unique landscapes. It is home to 500 bird species and a diverse variety of mammals, including elephants, buffalos, rhinos, lions and leopards. Even wild dogs roam the region.

The delta is fed by several large rivers, and because border fences have been dismantled in many places, wild animals can once again migrate and follow the water along their former routes.

This gives African elephants in particular more space, and conflicts with humans are becoming less frequent. In addition to national parks, there are also so-called "conservancies" in the protected area where people live. These locals are involved in the conservation measures and are supported in developing ecotourism. The German government is involved in supporting KAZA through the Reconstruction Loan Corporation (KfW).

Now the nature reserve is under threat. The Canadian company Recon Africa has begun drilling for oil and gas in the Namibian part of the reserve, and further oil production is to follow in Botswana.

Environmentalists warn of consequences for the ecosystem. The oil wells and associated heavy traffic are expected to cause considerable pollution of the waters. Local and international nature conservation organizations are calling for an immediate ban on drilling.

A film by Julia Mielke

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