Caprivi, sometimes called the Caprivi Strip, Caprivi Panhandle, Okavango Strip, or Okavango Panhandle] and formerly known as Itenge, is a narrow protrusion of Namibia eastwards from the Kavango Region about 450 km (280 mi), between Botswana to the south, and Angola and Zambia to the north. Caprivi is bordered by the Okavango, Kwando, Chobe and Zambezi rivers. Its largest settlement is the town of Katima Mulilo. The strip is administratively divided between the eastern Zambezi Region and the western Kavango East Region.
Yellow-bellied Greenbul Chlorocichla flaviventris ©Andre Stapelberg Birding Ecotours
The area is rich in wildlife and has mineral resources. Of particular interest to the government of Namibia is that it gives access to the Zambezi River and thereby a potential trading route to Africa’s East Coast. However, the vagaries of the river level, various rapids, the presence of Victoria Falls downstream make this use of the Caprivi Strip unlikely, although it may be used for more ecotourism. An incredible 450 bird species have been recorded in this relatively small area.
Southern Carmine Bee-eater Merops nubicoides ©Andre Stapelberg Birding Ecotours
For birders in pursuit of Okavango specials, such as Southern Carmine Bee-Eater, Pel’s Fishing Owl, Slaty Egret and Coppery-tailed Coucal it has the distinct advantage of costing a fraction of the amount one would spend on a journey in neighbouring Botswana. Water birds such as Lesser Moorhen, Allen’s Gallinule, African Crake, African Snipe and Black Crake are regular and African Reed Warbler, Yellow-crowned (Golden) Bishop, Red-shouldered Widow and Common Waxbill are common.
Slaty Egret Egretta vinaceigula ©Andrew de Klerk Birding Ecotours
Acacia thickets and trees are perfect for a variety of species, such as White-bellied Sunbird, Burnt-necked Eremomela, Long-billed Crombec, Diederik Cuckoo, Little Bee-eater, Black-eyed Bulbul, Groundscraper Thrush and Brubru. Purple-banded Sunbird, Orange-breasted Bush Shrike, Parasitic Weaver (Cuckoo Finch) and Capped Wheatear can be found in more open areas, with Temminck’s and Burchell’s Courser possible. African Little Sparrowhawk, African Goshawk and Shikra (Little-banded Goshawk) the list goes on and on. Other species include Golden-tailed, Cardinal and Bearded Woodpeckers, African Green Pigeon and Black-collared Barbet. African Cuckoo Falcon, Pale Flycatcher, Bradfield’s Hornbill, Mosque Swallow to name but a few.
Burchell’s Courser Cursorius rufus ©Martin Benadie Birding Ecotours
Within Namibia the Caprivi Strip provides significant habitat for the critically endangered African Wild Dog Lycaon pictus. It is a corridor for
African Elephant moving from Botswana and Namibia into Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe. National Parks found in the Caprivi Strip are Bwabwata National, Mudumu National Park and Nkasa Rupara National. Local communities have organised themselves into communal area conservancies and community forests. People work closely with the Namibian Government to jointly manage natural resources through several programmes set up between the Namibian Government and various donors.
Text Source Fatbirder
Photo Source Birding Ecotours
Map Source: Google Maps