This is what you see when you enter the lake Ngami, an endorheic lake in the north of Botswana’s Kalahari Desert where climate change is taking its cruel toll
Despite the dust in the air, there is no cattle in the kraal on the shore of the lake. Just a few tiny tents of fishermen far after the mirage in the middle of nothingness.
Only the skeletons of the trees standing on one leg. Vultures seating on the branches like buds. A few skinny cattle are walking, creating a trail of dust on the parched earth in the hope to find pasture and water.
This is what you see when you enter the lake Ngami, an endorheic lake in the north of Botswana’s Kalahari Desert where climate change is taking its cruel toll. Poor villagers are now helpless bystanders to the impact of the West’s mindless greed and refusal to act.
This is part of the result of the severe drought, which is threatening the cattle and tourism industry – one of the mainstays of Botswana’s economy. The Southern African country is struggling to keep its wildlife and cattle culture alive ever since the drought hit.
Botswana is already prone to drought and climate change has been attributed to a number of changes in the country, including longer drought episodes and changes in rainfall patterns.
At a national level, Botswana is experiencing significant water shortages, resulting in dependence on its neighbouring countries for inter-basin water transfers to augment its domestic supply.
A 2018 analysis by ASSAR (Adaptation at Scale in Semi-Arid Regions) showed that for Botswana, 1.5°C of global warming would lead to an average temperature rise above the pre-industrial baseline of 2.2°C. At 2.0°C global warming, Botswana would experience warming of 2.8°C.
It showed that at 1.5°C of global warming, Botswana would receive 5% less annual rainfall, at 2.0°C warming, annual rainfall would drop by 9%.
Abut 300 hippos are trapped in muddy water in the Okavango Delta, the Thamalakane River and the Lake Ngami.
More than 38,000 cattle, hippos and other wildlife depend on Lake Ngami for water. But now vultures feed on the carcasses of dead cattle scattered on the basin.
A Global Sustainability report published late last year warned that the climate change crisis in 2019 would threaten to push Botswana into unchartered territory with effects surpassing those of the 2015-16 El Nino effect, which was the strongest since at least 1950.
At global warming of 1.5°C, ASSAR projections showed that Botswana would be having 10 more dry days per year, and 17 extra dry days at 2.0°C warming.
In Botswana, at 1.5℃ and 2.0℃ global warming, maize yields were projected to drop by over 20% and 35% respectively.
In view of the unevenly distributed rainfall, heatwaves and the dry spell, the Botswanan authorities declared 2019 as the drought year. Livestock condition has suffered a lot throughout the country due to drought.
Acting Director of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Moemi Batshabang, told the media that this drought is one of the worst the Southern African sub-region has ever faced in the recent years.
“The drought poses danger to wildlife and human beings, especially in the northern part of the country. The big issue is that the Okavango Delta is drying up, which had been providing water especially for the aquatic animals, such as hippos, crocodiles and many more,” he said.
The Okavango Delta is a vast inland river delta in northern Botswana. It is known for its sprawling grassy plains, which are flooded seasonally and become a lush animal habitat.