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Chobe National Park, in northern Botswana, has one of the largest concentrations of game in Africa. By size, it is the third largest park in the country, after the Central Kalahari Game Reserve and the Kgalaghadi, and is the most biologically diverse. The idea of a national park to protect the wildlife as well as promote tourism first appeared in 1931. The following year, 24,000 km2 around Chobe district were officially declared non-hunting area; this area was expanded to 31,600 km2 two years later.In 1943, heavy tsetse infestations occurred throughout the region, delaying the creation of the national park. By 1953, the project received governmental attention again: 21,000 km2 were suggested to become a game reserve. The Chobe Game Reserve was officially created in 1960, though smaller than initially desired. In 1967, the reserve was declared a national park. It is also Botswana's first national park. At that time there were several industrial settlements in the region, especially at Serondela, These settlements were gradually moved out of the park, and only in 1975 was the whole protected area exempt from human activity. Minor expansions of the park took place in 1980 and 1987.The park can be divided up to 4 areas, each corresponding to a specific ecosystem:The Serondela area (or Chobe riverfront), situated in the extreme Northeast of the park, has as its main geographical features lush floodplains and dense woodland of mahogany, teak and other hardwoods now largely reduced by heavy elephant pressure. The Chobe River flows along the Northeast border of the park and is a major watering spot, especially in the dry season (May through October) for large breeding herds of elephants. It also supports families of giraffe, sable and Cape buffalo. The flood plains are the only place in Botswana where the puku antelope occur. Birding is also exceptional here all year round here. Large numbers of carmine bee-eaters are spotted in season. When in flood spoonbills, ibis, various species of stork, duck and other waterfowl can be found. This is likely Chobe's most visited section, in large part because of its proximity to the Victoria Falls. The town of Kasane, situated just downstream, and serves as the northern entrance to the park.The Savuti Marsh area, 10,878 km2 large, constitutes the western stretch of the park (50 km north of Mababe Gate). The Savuti Marsh is the remains of a large inland lake whose water supply was cut a long time ago. Nowadays the marsh is fed by the erratic Savuti Channel, which dries up for long periods then without reason flows again.In January 2010 reached Savuti Marsh for the first time since 1982. The region is also covered with large savannahs and grasslands. This makes wildlife particularly dynamic in this section of the park. At dry seasons, tourists going on safari encounter warthog, kudu, impala, zebra, wildebeest and a herd of elephants.In the rainy season the rich birdlife of the park up to 450 species occur in and around the entire park. Packs of lions, hyenas, zebras or more rarely cheetahs are visible as well. The Linyanti Marsh, located in the Northwest corner of the park andis adjacent to Linyanti River. To the west of this area lies Selinda Reserve and on the northern bank of Kwando River is Namibia's Nkasa Rupara National Park. Around the rivers, riverine woodlands, open woodlands as well as lagoons form part of the biomes and the rest of the region mainly consists of flood plains. Animals that occur in large concentrations include lion, leopard, African wild dog, roan antelope, sable antelope, a hippopotamus pod and enormous herds of elephants. The rarer red lechwe, sitatunga and a bask of crocodiles also occur in the area. Bird life is very rich here.The hot and dry Hinterland lies between Linyanti and Savuti Marshes covered mainly by the Nogatsaa grass woodland. This section is little known and is a great place for spotting the large Eland antelopeThe original inhabitants of this area were the San bushmen (also known as the Basarwa people in Botswana). They were nomadic hunter-gatherers who were constantly moving find food sources, namely fruits, water and wild animals. The park is widely known for its spectacular elephant population: It contains an estimated 50,000 elephants, perhaps the highest elephant concentration of Africa. Damage caused by the high numbers of elephants is rife in some areas. The concentration is so high throughout Chobe that culls have been considered, but are too controversial and have thus far been rejected. During the dry season, these elephants sojourn in Chobe River and the Linyanti River areas. At rain season, they make a 200-km migration to the southeast stretch of the park.
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