Lifeline to a Desert Delta

Lifeline to a Desert Delta

Use this map to help students learn more about the Okavango Delta in Africa, including how it was formed and why it is important to the people and wildlife of southwestern Africa.


5 - 8


Biology, Ecology, Conservation

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Morgan Stanley

Idea for Use in the Classroom.

The Okavango Delta is sustained by an efficient wetland system and is home to many of Africa’s most endangered species. Use the inset map of Africa to help students orient themselves and identify the delta region on the main map. Have them download the map for the high-resolution version. Students can locate and trace the rivers feeding into the delta then determine which countries they flow through. Focus on the origin point of the Cubango and Cuito Rivers and read “Highland Source” to understand what feeds these rivers. Students can read the section “A Dynamic Water System” to learn how water flows into the delta and how the shape of the delta is developed. Then they can use the map key to identify practices that could affect the delta. Ask: How might hydroelectric dams and water schemes affect the delta? Agricultural development and deforestation?

Learn more about the delta’s ecology by researching native plant and animal species to understand their niches. Encourage students to focus on how these species help shape the landscape and how they have adapted to the landscape. Example species include: elephant (Loxodonta), hippo (Hippopotamus amphibius), buffalo (Syncerus caffer), crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus), black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis), African wild dog (Lycaon pictus), lion (Panthera leo), termites, papyrus reed (Cyperus papyrus), sausage tree (Kigelia africana), and mokolwane palm (Hyphaene petersiana).

Have students use the map to demonstrate the prevalence of tourism in the delta then consider how tourism can be used to promote conservation. Finally, have students develop a script for a one-minute public service announcement that describes the unique flora, fauna, and landscape of the Okavango Delta and explains why they are under threat and how they can be protected.

As an extension, explore the Okavango Wilderness Project.

Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Tyson Brown, National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
Production Managers
Gina Borgia, National Geographic Society
Jeanna Sullivan, National Geographic Society
Program Specialists
Sarah Appleton, National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
Margot Willis, National Geographic Society
André Gabrielli, National Geographic Society
Last Updated

March 4, 2024

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