Climate change has not only taken a toll on animal rearing, crop production and water supplies to communities in Botswana but is now even shrinking the mighty Chobe River in the North West of the country, according to a new study.
The research conducted over a period of 5 years shows that Chobe River, which is one of Botswana’s best tourist attractions, is starting to show evidence of lower flows as a result of the increasing recurrent droughts in Southern Africa set off by climate change. The report titled “The potential impact of climate change on Tourism”, shows that precipitation has steadily reduced over the period and declined drastically over the past ten years.
“Droughts are increasingly becoming longer and rain no longer starts in October as is usually the case and in some instances the rain-end month has also been pushed forward. Temperatures continue to soar whilst water flow is increasingly diminishing and this all has serious consequences on the life cycles of animal habitat and animal migration patterns,” states the report.
The case study-based research shows that day time temperatures in the Chobe area have risen by more than one degree on average in the last three decades mainly because of climate change and overall temperatures across Botswana have warmed by just less than one degree Celsius in the past century.
The report also states that in the long run this could have far reaching impact on the tourism sector in Botswana, and the economy as a whole. “There is need for the country to come up with measures to maintain and increase tourist flows despite the diminishing river flow,” states the report.
A United Nations (UN) panel of experts on climate change also recently said that climate change is the main culprit responsible for extreme climate events.
Despite this climatic phenomenon, the Chobe River is giver of all things providing food, transport and employment. Tourism in Botswana is a blossoming industry that greatly adds to the national economy, contributing almost five percent to the country’s GDP and is reported to employ 1, 500 people. The major attractions include; game reserves and national parks, camping, arts and crafts, culture, safari, Chobe and Okavango Delta. Botswana has over the years been credited with environmentally-responsible tourism and was named the top travel destination in 2016 by Lonely Planet.