Moremi is home to abundant aquatic and terrestrial species. Following are a few of the aquatic species sampled by the team:
The Delta is home to eight known bivalves, including Coelatura kunenensis and Mutela sambesiensis. Mutela, the largest mollusk in the system, has an interesting way of finding its way to new territories. Its larvae are parasitic on fish, primarily cichlids, which distribute the clams in areas they couldn't otherwise reach.
(Undescribed Aplocheilichthys species)
The fish team found a large number of this turquoise-checkered species under a mat of floating grass. The topminnow's common name derives from its habit of swimming near the surface. This was a particularly exciting find, since the species has not been formally described. (My apologies – at 20 mm, the mosquito fish was too small for us to photograph properly!)
(above) Roger Bills documenting his find of a topminnow species that has not yet been formally described.
A widespread, eel-like species, this fish tends to live among the roots of aquatic plants. The specimen was the first adult of this species found by the AquaRAP team. Its common name originates from the catfish's small, snake-like head.
(left) Snake catfish, the first adult specimen found by AquaRAP's fish team.
Moremi also happens to be one of the best places in Africa to see the "charismatic megafauna" – scientists' language for animals that are popular with people. Here are three of my personal favorites, captured on camera our first day in the reserve:
While driving through the park, we discovered a pride of lions sleeping in the afternoon sun. Our driver got within a few yards, which enabled me to take this photo but also made me more than a little nervous. But I didn't need to be. Lions hunt almost exclusively at night, since it takes much more energy to hunt in the Delta heat.
Plus, animals in the reserve are used to seeing vehicles and don't perceive them as a threat. If we were to disembark, though, the lions would recognize us as humans and a potential danger. I stayed put in the Range Rover!
(above) Male lion resting in Moremi Game Reserve.
Impala are abundant throughout the Delta. Because they are one of the main prey species for many predators, including lion and leopard, these antelopes are always on the alert. This herd watched us closely and slowly moved on its way.
The local Burchell's zebra is differentiated from other zebra by the "shadow stripes" – brown stripes on the hindquarters intermingling with the white and black. Zebra are commonly found grazing with giraffes, who act as lookouts for the herd.
– Reported by Clare Nielsen
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