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The fourth largest river in Africa flows from northwest Zambia and Angola to the Indian Ocean; creating portions of the borders of Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Mozambique. Along its 2200 mile run to the sea the Zambezi (also Zambesi) River is held back by two large dams; the Kariba Dam in Zambia and the Cahora Bassa Dam in Mozambique. In both cases great amounts of hydro-electric power is produced. Also, the level of the river past the dams is regulated by the amount of water allowed to pass through or over the dam(s). In many places the river flows languidly with large shoals of sand and is edged with emergent wetland vegetation. In other places it crashes over great clefts in the substrate creating marvels such as Victoria Falls or running fast through narrow scarps in the ancient lava floor of the region. There are many stretches of narrow these turbulent rocky rapids. The river has a maximum flow in March or April and then diminishes until in October or November the river has lost about 90% of its high-water flowage. March and April are very noisy months at the Victoria Falls and the spray rising from the narrow gorge below the falls often makes viewing and photographing the falls impossible. It truly become “the smoke that thunders” as the Lozi people called it. Locally it is still referred to as Mosi-oa-Tunya.
But in such a variable river there are dozens of animals and plants that live near or in the river and find it a suitable home. Below are a few of the animals most likely to be seen along the river. The images are from Botswana and Zambia for the most part. I will do a couple of blog pages on the Victoria Falls area next – so I am not emphasizing the Falls region here. As a matter of fact some of the images are from Chobe NP which is an area on the Chobe River just above its confluence with the Zambezi. As there is a long overdue bridge being built where Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Botswana come together (a very rare occurrence in political geography) I will also do a page on the new bridge and its profound impact on the area.