Summer 2016: Makgadikgadi salt pans, Baobabs and Elephants!

 Summer Holidays 2016 were an absolute wonder! As an International Student I went back home to Botswana to see my family. The holiday was unlike any of the others, my family and I spent every weekend exploring different parts of the country. During these trips I had the opportunity to explore one of the most spectacular places I have ever been to, the Sua (Makgadikgadi) Salt Pans.
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Sua salt pants: The water right below the sky, the white and pink salt crystals visible in the center of the picture and the brown grass right at the bottom.

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Picture of the salt pans from an elevated position.

The Sua salt pans are one of the largest salt pans in the world. This beautiful white salt crystal came from the pink water mainly comprised of algae including cyanobacteria (Anabaena and Oscillatoria) is spread across 12,000 sq kms of Botswana’s land and is visible from space! The salt pans are found within the Kalahari Desert, and as a result of this the only vegetation found in the area are salt and drought tolerant, mainly brown grasslands and baobab trees.

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A baobab found in a village close to the Sua salt pans.

Baobabs are deciduous trees which grow to enormous sizes and have branches of various shapes. They live to be thousands of years old and are adapted to living in arid areas. The reason for their ability to survive in drought stricken areas is that they can store an average of 120,000 litres of water and are known to survive for 8-10 years without rain. In cases of drought the diameter of the tree shrinks overtime, resulting from loss of water retention.

Wild animals such as elephants like to eat the bark of the baobab tree because of the water retained within, especially during the dry summer days when there is no rain or sources of water. Unfortunately, I never got to witness an elephant eating a baobab, but I did see at least 500 elephants.

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Baby elephant going in for a drink milk from his mother.

Some links you can check out for more information on Botswana, the Sua salt pans, the mighty baobab and the cyanobacteria:

 

 

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About nadunik

Originally Sri Lankan, I was raised in Botswana in Africa and I am currently an international student in Canada. I am a Biology major and I love every aspect of Biology and truly enjoy my lab work!
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