Nata Bird Sanctuary
The Nata Bird Sanctuary is part of the Makgadikgadi Pan’s Important Bird Area (IBA) and is of the premier birding destinations in Botswana. During the late 1980’s, the Nata Conservation Committee realised the need for a protected area in the Nata district, what with its delicate ecology and ornithologically valuable pan surfaces, grasslands and the Nata River Delta. The outcome is a community-based project managed by a board of Trustees with representatives from the surrounding communities of Sepako, Maposa, Mmanxotae and Nata. The villages benefit from the sanctuary’s surplus revenue which is used for capital development and for the inhabitants’ education in matters of conservation and eco-tourism. The Swedish Biodiversity Foundation provides further funding.
Makgadikgadi was once the location of the greatest inland lake in southern Africa which dried up about 20,000 years ago. Nowadays, the remnants of the great lake exist in the form of two large salt pans: Sua Pan in the east and Ntwetwe Pan in the west. The pans flood temporarily in the wet season. Nata Bird Sanctuary offers one of the best possible views of the pans due to an elevated wooden hide that provides a beautiful vantage point. As a bird sanctuary, most of the protected wildlife belongs to the winged variety.
The region is home to a wide variety of winged species, and also serves as an important breeding ground for both pelicans and flamingos. A total of 165 species of birds have been recorded in the area. The most commonly sighted species include flamingos, pelicans, ducks, geese, ostriches, kingfisher eagles, and spoon bills.
A variety of mammals also inhabit the region, and these species include various antelope such as hartebeest, kudu, reedbuck, springbok and steenbok, as well as a number of smaller mammals which include springhares, jackals, foxes, monkeys and squirrels. Eland, gemsbok and zebra are being re-introduced into the area.