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Location Botswana, Chobe
Central coordinates 23o 33.00' East  18o 34.20' South
IBA criteria A1, A3, A4i
Area 20,000 ha
Altitude 900 - 950m
Year of IBA assessment 2001

BirdLife Botswana (Partner Designate)

Site description The Chobe river rises in the Angolan highlands. It is called the Kwando river where it enters Botswana, and then becomes the Linyanti, the Itenge, and near Ngoma Gate, the Chobe river. The Chobe river lies between the Caprivi Strip to the north and Chobe National Park to the south, forming this large park’s northern boundary. The Okavango Delta is linked to the Linyanti swamp via the Magweggana or Selinda spillway. The main habitats are riparian woodland (including mopane), flood-plain grasslands, swamp vegetation and, away from the river, Baikiaea woodlands. Papyrus Cyperus and reed Phragmites occur in the Linyanti swamp, along open sections of the Chobe and in lagoons. On islands in the swamp grow palms (Hyphaene and Phoenix) and Lonchocarpus trees. The Baikiaea woodlands have a well-developed understorey of shrubs and grasses. The area on the Chobe river, from the eastern perimeter fence of the Mowana Safari Lodge eastwards to the Chobe Farms, is ecologically unique in Botswana, comprising the country’s only river-rapids as well as a small kopje and riverine woodland. This area supports a flora and avifauna not found elsewhere in the country. There is some wildlife tourism on either side of the river, and artisanal hunting and fishing occurs, as does grass-, reed- and sedge-cutting.

Key Biodiversity See Box and Table 2 for key species. The Linyanti/Chobe wetlands support a wide range of birds, most of which also occur in the Okavango Delta. Grus carunculatus is regularly seen in small numbers, as too is Egretta vinaceigula. Regionally threatened species include Ciconia episcopus, Anastomus lamelligerus, Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis, Leptoptilos crumeniferus, Caprimulgus natalensis and, at Kasane rapids, a pair of Scotopelia peli. Pelecanus rufescens has bred, while 500–700 Pelecanus onocrotalus occur regularly in the non-breeding season. Regionally near-threatened species include Gorsachius leuconotus, Macheiramphus alcinus, Podica senegalensis, Microparra capensis, Vanellus albiceps, V. crassirostris, Gallinula angulata and Centropus grillii.Of note on the lower Chobe are Rynchops flavirostris (10–20 pairs breed), Alcedo semitorquata, about three pairs of Cercotrichas quadrivirgata (confined in Botswana to the extreme north of Chobe National Park and the rapids area), and 10–20 pairs of Glareola nuchalis (from September to early February, when boulders are exposed). In the swamp vegetation occur several species scarce elsewhere in Botswana (other than in the Okavango Delta), notably Acrocephalus rufescens, found on the Kwando and Savuti channel and discovered recently too on the Chobe, Amblyospiza albifrons, Ploceus xanthopterus and Euplectes axillaris. Many species characteristic of the Kalahari–Highveld biome are well represented here. The Baikiaea woodlands support an interesting range of species, including Falco dickinsoni, Coracias spatulata, Camaroptera stierlingi and the Palearctic migrant Locustella fluviatilis.

Non-bird biodiversity: Among large mammals, populations of Loxodonta africana (EN) are high, but other species on both sides of the river (and especially outside Chobe National Park) are suffering serious declines, including Tragelaphus spekei (LR/nt).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
African Openbill Anastomus lamelligerus winter  3,000 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
African Spoonbill Platalea alba winter  356 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Slaty Egret Egretta vinaceigula winter  present  A1  Vulnerable 
Rufous-bellied Heron Ardeola rufiventris winter  250 individuals  A4i  Least Concern 
Dickinson's Kestrel Falco dickinsoni resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Wattled Crane Bugeranus carunculatus resident  uncommon  A1  Vulnerable 
Black-winged Pratincole Glareola nordmanni winter  100-300 individuals  A1, A4i  Near Threatened 
Burchell's Sandgrouse Pterocles burchelli resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Coppery-tailed Coucal Centropus cupreicaudus resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Racquet-tailed Roller Coracias spatulatus resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Bradfield's Hornbill Lophoceros bradfieldi resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Chirping Cisticola Cisticola pipiens resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Miombo Wren-warbler Camaroptera undosa resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Barred Wren-warbler Camaroptera fasciolata resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Angola Babbler Turdoides hartlaubii resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Burchell's Glossy-starling Lamprotornis australis resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Meves's Glossy-starling Lamprotornis mevesii resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Kurrichane Thrush Turdus libonyanus resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Kalahari Scrub-robin Erythropygia paena resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-headed Black-chat Myrmecocichla arnoti resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Miombo Rock-thrush Monticola angolensis resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
White-breasted Sunbird Nectarinia talatala resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Brown Firefinch Lagonosticta nitidula resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 
Broad-tailed Paradise-whydah Vidua obtusa resident  1998  present  A3  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2012 medium near favourable medium
Medium - based upon reliable but incomplete / partially representative data

Agriculture and aquaculture annual & perennial non-timber crops - small-holder farming happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) slow but significant deterioration low
Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases problematic native species/diseases - unspecified species happening now some of area/population (10-49%) slow but significant deterioration medium

Platalea alba African Spoonbill 346 299 unknown 87 near favourable
Egretta vinaceigula Slaty Egret 567 536 individuals 95 favourable

Some of site covered (10-49%)  A comprehensive and appropriate management plan exists that aims to maintain or improve the populations of qualifying bird species  Substantive conservation measures are being implemented but these are not comprehensive and are limited by resources and capacity  medium 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Chobe Forest Reserve 188,000 protected area contains site 20,000  
Okavango Delta System Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 6,864,000 is identical to site 492,500  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Artificial - terrestrial   5%
Shrubland   48%
Grassland   24%
Forest   22%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture -
fisheries/aquaculture -
hunting -
nature conservation and research -
tourism/recreation -
water management -
other -
Notes: Reed- and sedge-cutting.

References Irwin et al. (1969), Herremans (1994), Herremans and Herremans (1992b), Penry (1994), Randall (1993), Randall (1995), Tyler (2001).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Linyanti swamp/Chobe river. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016

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