Zambezian Flooded Savannas | WWF

Zambezian Flooded Savannas

About the Area

The Okavango Delta and associated flooded grasslands and savanna habitats that constitute the Zambezian Flooded Savannas ecoregion are among the most important biological sites in Africa.
Besides a rich diversity of birds, this ecoregion supports significant populations of large mammals, such as the African elephant (Loxodonta africana).

Local Species

Many African mammals move seasonally with the rise and fall of floodwaters, following the changing vegetation. Common inhabitants of the floodplains of southern Africa are the Waterbuck (Kobus ellipsprymnus ellipsprymnus and K. e. defassa), Puku (Kobus vardonii), Lechwe (Kobus leche), Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius), and the Sitatunga (Tragelaphus spekei).

Bird species include the Slaty egret (Egretta vinaceigula), Wattled crane (Grus carunculatus), and the Pygmy goose (Nettapus auritus). Amongst the endemic reptiles are Barotse water snake (Crotaphopeltis barotseensis) and the striped swamp snake (Limnophis bicolor).

Threats include cattle ranching, and contamination from heavy metals, insecticide and agricultural runoff. The human populations of these wetland areas are generally low, largely due to the high density of disease-carrying organisms such as the malaria mosquitoes, tsetse flies, and aquatic snails that transmit bilharzia.

Insecticide pollution includes DDT used for malaria control in Namibia and a number of less persistent compounds used for tsetse control in Botswana. Water diversions for irrigation and hydroelectric dams have already affected some floodplain systems and are threatening others.

Excess withdraw from the Okavango Riveris, currently being discussed by partner countries, could have deleterious effects on the functioning of the delta ecosystems.


1,191,000 sq. km (460,000 sq. miles)

Habitat type:
Flooded Grasslands and Savannas

Geographic Location:
Southern Africa: Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia

Conservation Status:

Quiz Time!

What are the Sitatungas known for?

Spiral-horned antelopes called Sitatungas have splayed hooves that help them keep their footing on the mushy ground. They are known to produce barking sounds very similar to those of wild dogs.

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