© Rhino at Sabi River. South Africa
Many of the rivers of Africa flow through some of the finest wilderness areas and provide for safari experiences that live long in the memory of those who visit.
In the past the great rivers of Africa supported all life on the continent. During the dry seasons wildlife and humans alike would concentrate on the river banks as the water in the interior dried up. With the rains there would be a migration away from the rivers as the water and food in the interior was plentiful.
Water - the Source of Life
Today water is still the source of life in Africa and many of the continent's great wilderness areas are sustained by a river or a great body of water. The face of the landscape of Africa has changed considerably over the decades, with humans encroaching on wild lands, but ultimately it is water that still controls the rhythms of the wilderness.
The seasons of the rivers in the wilderness areas of Africa move according to the rains. Wildlife begins to return to the rivers as the dry season wears on. Water is drying up in the hinterland and the animals begin to move back to the permanent water sources. As the seasons advances the vegetation on the river banks is eaten and trampled to dust.
The sky begins to change from blue to grey-blue with the advancing dry season. The African air is scented in dust and smoke from multitudinous fires that burn the African landscape at this time. These fires are set by people clearing vegetation for planting with the coming rains. The air is tainted with the tart scent of animal dung that has collected over time. As the days pass the scents combine into a scent of desperation.
Concentration of Wildlife
Generally in the African wilderness wildlife will concentrate at a water body during the dry season and with the coming of the rains the wildlife will disperse. The reasoning behind this is that during the rainy season pans and temporary waterholes will hold water and the vegetation will have sprouted providing food and water in plenty.
Animals will be strewn over large areas at this time. However, come the dry season when the water in the pans has dried up the wildlife will look to concentrate around the permanent water sources - and this is usually in the form of a river.
Wildlife is drawn to water and in Africa's dry season the rivers of the continent become havens for all species that need water to survive, and provides for the most dramatic wildlife interactions.