Moremi, hunted by the Bushman as long as 10,000 years ago, was initiated by the Batawana tribe and covers some 4,871 km2, as the eastern section of the Okavango Delta. Moremi is mostly described as one of the most beautiful wildlife reserves in Africa. It combines mopane woodland and acacia forests, floodplains and lagoons. It is the great diversity of plant and animal life that makes Moremi so well known.
The idea to create a game reserve first originated in 1961 and was approved by the Batawana at a kgotla in 1963. The area was then officially designated as a game reserve in April 1965 and was initially run by the Fauna Conservation Society of Ngamiland. Moremi was then extended to include Chiefs Island in 1976. In August 1979 the reserve was taken over by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks. A further extension was added as recently as 1992 and now the reserve contains within its boundaries approximately twenty percent of the Okavango Delta.
Hippo Pool lives up to its name, as there is an abundance of those creatures in residence. They can be viewed in comfort from an observation platform overlooking the pool. It was near here that the Bugakhwe people used to have their village, but, with the creation of the game reserve, they were moved in 1963 to their present location near north gate, which is known as Khwai Village. The village boasts a population of only about three hundred people. There are a few basic supply stores in the Khwai Village, which can be very useful if one runs out of something or would like the luxury of an ice cold drink! A few of these villagers have attractive basketwork for sale to visitors.
Moremi is best visited in the dry season and game viewing is at its peak from July to October, when seasonal pans dry up and the wildlife concentrates on the permanent water. The winter months of May to August can be very cold at night, but pleasantly warm, under clear blue skies, during the day. From October until the rains break in late November or early December, the weather can be extremely hot – both day and night.
Mosquitoes are prevalent throughout the reserve and it is strongly recommended that visitors should take an anti-malarial prophylactic before, during and for four weeks after their visit, especially during the rainy season. Water for drinking should be boiled or chemically treated.
The reserve enjoys a wide diversity of habitat and is well known for the height of the trees in the mopane tongue, which covers the central area. However, the mainland part forms only about thirty percent of the reserve and is, in many ways untypical – the remaining area being part of the Okavango Delta. Birdlife is prolific and varied, ranging from water birds to shy forest dwellers. Elephants are numerous, particularly during the dry season, as well as a range of other wildlife species from buffalo, giraffe, lion, leopard, cheetah, wild dog, hyaena, jackal and the full range of antelope, large and small, including the red lechwe. Rhino, both black and white, were here in the past, but most of the few remaining have been sought out for translocation to the protection of a sanctuary, away from the attentions of illegal hunters. Wild dog, whose numbers are so rapidly dwindling elsewhere, are regularly sighted in the Moremi and have been subject to a project being run in the area since 1989 so these animals are often seen wearing collars placed on them by the researchers. It is claimed that the Moremi area contains about thirty percent of all living wild dog.