National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project
Peer-reviewed academic articles
Engelbrecht, H.M., Branch, W.R., Greenbaum, E., Burger, M., Conradie, W., Tolley, K.A. 2020. African Herald snakes, Crotaphopeltis, show population structure for a widespread generalist but deep genetic divergence for forest specialists. Journal Zoolo Syst Evol Res. 1– 14. doi:10.1111/jzs.12361
Barber-James, H., Ferreira, I. 2019. The Mayflies (Ephemeroptera) of Angola—new species and distribution records from previously unchartered waters, with a provisional species checklist. Zoosymposia, 16(1), 124–138. doi:10.11646/zoosymposia.16.1.11
Keates, C., Conradie, W., Greenbaum, E., Edwards, S. 2019. A snake in the grass: Genetic structuring of the widespread African grass snake (Psammophylax Fitzinger 1843), with the description of a new genus and a new species. J Zoological Systematics Evolutionary Research 57, pp 1039–1066. doi:10.1111/jzs.12337
Branch W.R., Vaz Pinto P., Baptista N., Conradie W. 2019. The Reptiles of Angola: History, Diversity, Endemism and Hotspots. In: Huntley B., Russo V., Lages F., Ferrand N. (eds) Biodiversity of Angola. Springer, Cham
Baptista N., Conradie W., Vaz Pinto P., Branch W.R. 2019. The Amphibians of Angola: Early Studies and the Current State of Knowledge. In: Huntley B., Russo V., Lages F., Ferrand N. (eds) Biodiversity of Angola. Springer, Cham
Goyder, D.J., Barker, N., Bester, S.P., Frisby, A., Janks, M., Gonçalves, F.M.P. 2018. The Cuito catchment of the Okavango system: a vascular plant checklist for the Angolan headwaters. PhytoKeys 113, pp 1-31. Doi:10.3897/phytokeys.113.30439
Midgley, J.M., Engelbrecht, I. 2019. New collection records for Theraphosidae (Araneae, Mygalomorphae) in Angola, with the description of a remarkable new species of Ceratogyrus. African Invertebrates 60, pp 1-13. doi:10.3897/afrinvertebr.60.32141
Portillo, F., Branch, W.R., Conradie, W., et al. 2018. Phylogeny and biogeography of the African burrowing snake subfamily Aparallactinae (Squamata: Lamprophiidae). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 127, pp 288-303. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2018.03.019
Branch, W.R. 2018. Snakes of Angola: an annotated checklist. Amphibian & Reptile Conservation 12, pp 41–82. – Link to publication here.
Branch, W.R. 2018. Auf Reptiliensuche in der Angolanischen Okavango-Wildnis. Sauria 40(1), pp25–57. – Click here to view the pdf
Vas Pinto, P. 2016. Yellow-backed duiker in Miombo – Angola. Gnusletter 33 vol2
Pedro Vas Pinto. – Click here to view the pdf
Taylor, P.J, Neef, G., Keith, M., Weier, S., Monadjem ,A., Parker, D.M. 2018. Tapping into technology and the biodiversity informatics revolution: updated terrestrial mammal list of Angola, with new records from the Okavango Basin. ZooKeys 779: 51-88. doi:10.3897/zookeys.778.25964
Midgley, J.M., Engelbrecht,. I. An exciting new Ceratogyrus from central Angola. – Click here to view the pdf
Conradie, W., Bills, R.,Branch, W.R. 2016. The herpetofauna of the Cubango, Cuito, and lower Cuando river catchments of south-eastern Angola. Amphibian & Reptile Conservation 10(2) [Special Section]: 6–36 (e126). – Link to publication here.
Conradie, W. , Bills, R 2017. Wannabe Ranid: Notes on the morphology and natural history of the Lemaire’s Toad (Bufonidae: Sclerophrys lemairii). Salamandra 53, pp . 439-444. – Link to publication here.
Branch, W.R., Haacke, W., Vaz Pinto, P., Conradie, W., Baptista, N., Verburgt, L., Verisimmo, L. 2017. Loveridge’s Angolan geckos, Afroedura karroica bogerti and Pachydactylus scutatus angolensis (Sauria, Gekkonidae): new distribution records, comments on type localities and taxonomic status. Zoosystematics and Evolution 93, pp 157-166. doi:10.3897/zse.93.10915
View and Download maps of the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project
National Geographic NGOWP Expedition Map 2015 – 2016
Density of Wildlife Samping 2015-2016
Okavango River Basin
Topography of the Okavango Region
Villages in the NGOWP Core Study Area
Published newspaper, magazine & web articles
Protecting the Okavango Delta. Botswana is home to the largest inland water delta on earth, the magificent Okavango. It is a diverse ecosystem home to a multitude of species and is by far Botswana’s most prized and famed tourism attractions. The source of the Delta is the Okavango-Zambezi Water Tower, which begins in Angola.
August 2018 / Download Article here – pdf
The country’s most treasured tourism asset, the Okavango Delta, is experiencing one of the driest periods in its history. As a World Heritage Site, the Delta’s drying has stoked fears that Botswana is witnessing the beginning of the end of the magic.
Ahead of the scientific data on why the Okavango Delta is drying up, this is what some of the people of the various settlements in Ngamiland believe about why their rivers are emptier this year.
What happens when the sustenance of a town ceases to exist? Maun is facing its worst drought in recent history and there are already victims. But this is only the beginning of the cruellest natural catastrophe.
President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi has commended Wild Bird Trust and National Geographic for a film on the Okavango Delta.
The Permanent Okavango River Commission (OKACOM) and Wild Bird Trust have come up with an agreement aimed at strengthening collaboration to protect the Cubango-Okavango River Basin.
Although the Okavango Delta has been a subject of many feature films and documentaries around the world, few have ever been shown to the people of Ngamiland.
A vital watershed and a fountain of life that nurtures six countries, millions of people and some of the most important wildlife on Earth, is begging for protection. If this place could be protected and soundly managed, biodiversity scientists argue
Seven. The number of days waiting to get a confirmation on the military helicopter that would transport us to the river to meet the rest of the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project (NGOWP) team exploring the headwaters of the Cuando River at the Angolan highlands.
The New York reception was cold. We walked out from the JFK Airport terminal building following behind our shuttle driver named Gerald taking us to the car. The chilly New York morning weather hit our warm jetlagged faces and Water Setlabosha, my travel companion, exclaimed, “Yeses!” That is when we all quickened up the pace to the car.
Angola and the National Geographic Society are preparing to sign, in the short term, a cooperation protocol in the biodiversity conservation segment. The information was provided in New York by the Minister of Hotels and Tourism, Ângela Bragança, after the release of National Geographic of the film into the Okavango that reflects on the biodiversity and way of life of the populations living along the Cuito, Cuanavale and Cubango rivers.
Located in the heart of Botswana, the Okavango Delta is a vast inland river delta that forms each year by seasonal flooding. Rains in the Angola Highlands flow down the Okavango River, but rather than be deposited in a lake or ocean, they simply spread out across the plains, covering an area of about 8500 square miles (22,014 sq. km) for several months of the year.
O trabalho que resultou num filme de duas horas e 47 minutos e que deverá ser visto por mais de 700 milhões de telespectadores no mundo, é o culminar de jornadas de equipas de pesquisadores da produtora norte-americana na região.
Angola e a National Geographic Society estão a preparar um protocolo de cooperação no segmento de conservação da biodiversidade. A informação foi dada em Nova Iorque (EUA) pela ministra da Hotelaria e Turismo, Ângela Bragança, após o lançamento no domingo, pela NG, do filme Into the Okavango que espelha a biodiversidade e o modo de vida das populações que vivem ao longo dos rios Cuito, Cuanavale e Cubango.
Twenty-four potential new animal species identified in the Cubango-Okavango, southeast of Angola, may gain worldwide notoriety as a result of the film. “Into the Okavango”, released Sunday in New York by National Geographic, Society.
New York – Angola and the National Geographic Society are preparing to sign, in the short term, a cooperation protocol in the biodiversity conservation segment.
On Sunday, Earth Day, National Geographic’s (NatGeo) Into the Okavango film was premiered at Tribeca Film Festival in New York, US. Staff Writer THALEFANG CHARLES, who has followed the genesis of the film from Angola to Botswana, sat in the front row to witness the premiere and report from New York.
The 17th Tribeca Film Festical began in New York on Wednesday, and Okaya Africa shone the light on film that show Africa and the diaspora like you’ve never seen them before.
The second edition of the National Geographic Summit takes place on April 11 at the Coliseu dos Recreios in Lisbon. Angolan explorer Adjany Costa is one of the speakers in the session that brings together six experts in different fields, from marine biology, to space, to photography, with a common mission: to talk about the importance of preserving the planet Earth.
The Cubango/Okavango wildlife research project, developed in southeastern Angola by the National Geographic Society, has already identified more than 1,000 species, including mammals, birds, fish and reptiles, of which 24 may be new discoveries for science.
April 2018 – Read full article here
In a room full of old professors and young scientists, together with internationally acclaimed explorers in Cape Town (which ironically is also in water dire straits), the critical status of the Okavango Delta is under discussion. If they cannot solve the Angolan southeastern conundrum, this pristine wilderness might cease to exist.
January 2018 – Read full article here
Jeff Fortenberry from the US House of Representatives, presented a Bill aimed at promoting sustainable economic development and combating wildlife trafficking in the Okavango River basin.
January 2018 – Read full article here
Concerns about the future water to the Delta have long been raised by conservationists in Botswana and a tri-national transboundary commission has been engaged with these concerns for decades.
– October 2017 – Read the full article here
Angolan ambassador to the United States of America, Agostinho Tavares, reaffirmed Wednesday the country’s commitment to the Okavango / Delta regional project.
– July 2017 – Read the full article here
Angolan ambassador to the United States, Agostinho Tavares, attended a private briefing on the film “Lisima Lya Mwondo-The Spring of Life” in Washington.
– July 2017 – Read the full article here
Interview with NGOWP research manager Götz Neef about the 7th National Geographic Okavango Expedition.
– July 2017 – Listen to the full interview here
The animal and forest resources that exist along the Cubango River, which is born in Huambo province and disappears in Botswana, covering an area of approximately 3,300 kilometers, are impressing the National Geographic Society team, which is working on the research of new species For future scientific studies.
June 2017 – Read the full article here
A team of researchers from the National Geographic Society has been investigating the southeastern region of Angola for two years and will launch in September a documentary reflecting the biodiversity and way of life of the populations living along the Cuito, Cuanavale, Cubango and Cuito rivers.
– April 2017 – Read the full article here
Last November, armed with a visa, yellow fever card and air ticket, Rohini Rau travelled to rural Angola as a health researcher for a healthcare survey.
– March 2017 – Read the full article here
Angola is viewed by many as a relentless chaotic metropolis in constant development, in which the Luanda city limits define the boundaries of imagining a world beyond. Angolanity is instinctively associated to the image of a high-rising concrete jungle that gradually swallows the surrounding nature. But some have been lucky to peer beyond the capital’s imposing armor and begin to understand why Angola was once known as Africa’s “drawing room”.
– December 2016 – Read the full article here
The Okavango Delta is the beating heart of Africa and one of the last great wildernesses in the world: home to the largest populations of hippo and buffalo, and almost half of our continent’s elephant. Last year it was declared UNESCO’s 1000th World Heritage Site, a long overdue accolade. Yet the two source rivers that feed the Okavango remain unprotected, in fact the catchment of the Cuito, the longer of the two, is considered botanically to be one of the least explored stretches of river in the world. Outside of the military it had not been studied scientifically since the early 1900’s. – intoafricamag.com
– October 2016 – Download the full article here – pdf
Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of it. Something had just disappeared beneath the rippling waters near shore. It was swimming out of the tall reeds and heading toward the deeper part of the channel. I gured it was a crocodile and wondered if our paths would cross as we continued to canoe. I didn’t have to wonder for long.
– May 2016 – Download the full article here – pdf
At a small village of Jinjanga along the Cuanavale River on the Angolan highlands, a research group interview is underway inside a small smoke-filled grass hut sheltering attendants from the pouring rain outside. The interview is conducted in three languages, being the local Mbundu translated into Portuguese, Angola’s official language, then translated to English (for researchers). Through the three-tier translations, it is clear that locals are adamant that there are still big wild animals around this unprotected wilderness.
– April 2016 – Download the full article here – pdf
It’s been only six weeks on the mighty river. The daily routine on the water is turning into a minds game. Where are we? In which direction are we going. How much longer can we do this? An intoxicated river, going in circles, side to side, rocking and bouncing between its supporting banks.
– April 2016 – Read the full article here
Beginning at the Source. Peolwane. Air Botswana In-flight Magazine.
The Future conservation of Botswana’s World heritage Site, the Okavango Delta reest to a large degree on what happens north of the country, in the Angolan highlands – where the Okavango waters originate. The Okavango Wilderness Project in collaboration with National Geographic, is undertaking a four-month expedition beginning at Quito, the source of the Okavango River.
– September 2015
Unbezahlbare Erfahrung Gesammelt. Allgemeine Zuitung Newspaper. Namibia.
Über seinen Professor gelangte der 27-jährige Götz Neef in die Gruppe der Auserwählten, die die Expedition des Okavango Wilderness Projekts mitmachen durften. „Ich sollte als Entomologe mitkommen und regelmäßig Wasserproben des …
– August 2015 – Download the full article here – pdf
Größtes Schutzgebiet Afrikas Nötig. Allgemeine Zuitung Newspaper Namibia.
Kaum Wildtiere, die Entdeckung eines unbekannten Wasserfalls, Menschen die seit 40 Jahren keine anderen Personen mehr getroffen haben, das waren einige Erfahrungen in Angola. Kaum in Namibia zahlreiche Flusspferde, die an Menschen gewohnt ….
– August 2015 – Download the article here – pdf
Angola Hui, Namibia Pfui. Allgemeine Zuitung Newspaper. Namibia.
Wir haben drei Tage an der Grenze Namibias verloren und sind schon etliche Tage in Verzug, nachdem wir am Ursprung des Cuito die Mokoros zwei Wochen lang auf dem Land hinter uns herziehen mussten, weil wir nicht auf dem langen und kurvenreichen…
– August 2015 – Download the article here – pdf
Seven mekoro and hundreds of kilograms of batteries, food supplies, advanced research equipment, cameras and expedition gear are making their way down the length of the Cuito River in Angola, past the junction with the Cubango River, across the Okavango Delta, and all the way to the end of the Boteti River in a ‘Source-to-Sand’ expedition.
– August 2015 – Read the full article here
River Reveals its Secrets. Saturday Star Newspaper. South Africa.
At First Dr. Steve Boyes thought the the huge shadow coming out of the water was a crocodile. Then he saw the animal’s unmistakable hump. And the whiskers on its face. The hippo clamped on to their traditional mekoro, piercing its hull.
– July 2015 – Download the article here – pdf
Source of Rio Cuito to Makgadigadi Pans: Scientists undertake survey of Cuito’s upper catchment. Ngami Times. Newspaper Article in Botswana
– July 2015
With a three-month investigation period, in the first phase, the memorandum foresees an expedition in an area of about 450 kilometers from the source of the Cuito river in the province of Bié to the confluence of Cubango, on the border with Namibia. The project provides for the study of aquatic species of the Cuito and Cubango rivers for the promotion of ecotourism in the framework of the Okavango Zambezi Transboundary Environmental Conservation Project (KAZA), which also includes Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
– June 2015 – Read the full article here
Odyssey to Angolan Wilderness. Weekend Post Newspaper. South Africa
Two Port Elizabeth men have returned from a ground-breaking National Geographic expedition to study and protect animals and plants in a river in Angola that feeds one of the world’s largest inland deltas, the Okavango Delta. Herpetologists Bill Branch and Werner Conradie from Bayworld joined other specialists in the expedition to the river, which ultimately drains into the delta in northern Botswana, where it is a well protected World Heritage Site.
– June 2015 – Download the full article here – pdf
Books and Guides
Publications that the NGOWP contributed to:
A comprehensive guide to the freshwater fishes of the Okavango Delta and Chobe River, this book offers background information on the diverse aquatic habitats of the region and on fish feeding, breeding and survival strategies. Read more here
Muadi O Regresso dos Elefantes. Childrens book published through the Funducao Kissama Foundations.
This is the story of Muadi, a matriarch who convinces her family to return to their origins in Angola. The elephants venture on a long journey, full of encounters and unforeseen events.With so many difficulties along the way, will the herd reach its final destination?
National Geographic Documentary Films
From National Geographic Documentary Films, Into the Okavango chronicles a team of modern-day explorers on their first epic four-month, 1,500-mile expedition across three countries to save the river system that feeds the Oka- vango Delta, one of our planet’s last wetland wildernesses.
SABC 50/50 Environmental Programme. South Africa
Explorer, scientist and expedition leader, Dr Steve Boyes is at the helm of a new adventure. The Okavango bird census contributed to the Okavango Delta being granted overdue World Heritage Site status. But the swamps are only one part of the system, the source of its water lies upstream and in another country altogether. Bertus travels by plane, road and boat to reach his far-flung destination – the headwaters of the Okavango Swamps which originate in Angola – all to meet up with a determined assortment of scientists on a mission to save this priceless landscape.
An epic expedition sees the remote rivers of southern Africa probed for their natural secrets by determined scientists in a bid to save the wildest place in Africa and the so-called pulse of the planet. A few weeks ago we began the story of the Cuito expedition under the leadership of Dr Boyes. Bertus joined him and his team of multidisciplinary emerging explorers in the Angolan headlands, on a mission to collect baseline data on the wildlife there… Their goal? To turn the river and the adjacent forests and floodplains into Africa’s largest wildlife reserve. We continue our coverage of the Okavango source to sea expedition, and get more acquainted with the natural history of the largely unexplored upper reaches of the Cuito River in Angola. As usual Bertus is not afraid to get his hands dirty
In recent weeks we showcased the natural history of the beautiful Angolan Highlands. This previously unexplored area is critical to the survival of the Okavango Delta, giving rise to its life-giving waters. A dedicated team of scientists have been pioneering new and significant discoveries in this remote region. We continue to unearth the secrets of this unspoilt area, and we learn the important lesson that people are very much a part of the ecosystems in which they live, and often guard the secrets of the history – and natural history – of areas otherwise cut off from the outside world.