Biologist, Conservationist, & Portlander. My passion lives in Africa.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

My ideal backyard.

7:45 PM Posted by Tara Easter No comments

Last week I was at a game night with a group of friends. While the others yelled at each other during intense battles of Settlers of Catan, I had gotten distracted by a stack of "question" cards. I love these kinds of games. They're meant to be conversational pieces for a group, but I silently read them to myself and pondered  what my response would be to both the intellectual questions and the silly ones. 

One question in particular caught my attention and reminded me of some news I would like to share here that is perhaps a bit old, but significant nonetheless...


If you could have any one view from your backyard, what would you want it to be?

First, a broad question like this needs to be clarified. When it says "any", it means ANY. That is, even if it's not physically, politically, or geographically possible. 

Many scenes raced through my mind. I immediately eliminated city skylines, or any sort of civilization for that matter; I'm a nature girl. I then started thinking of the world's most iconic natural wonders, places often seen in magazines like National Geographic or featured on Planet Earth. There is so much beauty in this world, so many places to see. But ultimately, my heart will always belong to Africa.

I thought about the valleys of Damaraland where desert elephants, leopards, and baboons frequently roam...



I thought about the water hole at Etosha National Park where I could observe the most spectacular displays of interspecific behaviors...




And I thought about places I haven't been, but have heard so much about. Perhaps a more classic African scene like Tanzania's Mt. Kilimanjaro or the Serengeti would be the ultimate backyard.

The options in Africa are endless and each unique, but what is the most magical place? Is there a place that shows both harshness and tranquility? Where it can be a struggle to survive and then bursting with life, never letting me forget how wonderful nature can be?

Of course!

   The Okavango Delta. 

Situated in the basin of the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, this delta goes from wasteland to wonderland every year when the floods wash down from the highlands of Angola, bringing with it the most diverse concentration of wildlife in the world.

"Nowhere on our planet earth is the lifegiving power of water so clearly demonstrated." David Attenborough, BBC's Planet Earth



Yes, witnessing this miracle every year in my backyard would be ideal. Thankfully, the presidents of Angola, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe considered this land just as precious as I. On August 18, 2011, they signed a treaty forming the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) which is a 444,000 km^2 area designated for conservation (and therefore ecotourism), and it's the largest of its kind in the world. This region includes the Okavango Delta, Victoria Falls, and numerous national parks, with the goal to:

 “Sustainably manage the Kavango Zambezi ecosystem, its heritage and cultural resources based on best conservation and tourism models for the socio-economic wellbeing of the communities and other stakeholders in and around the eco-region through harmonization of policies, strategies and practices.”


I may not be able to build a house there, but I wouldn't have it any other way. 

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