NINE GREAT WETLANDS FOR WATCHING WILDLIFE

In this block, I will list the nine great wetlands for watching wildlife.

1.THE PANTANAL, BRAZIL

The Pantanal wetland is the world’s largest wetland and it covers over 70,000 square miles, most of which is in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul in Brazil, and also spreading into neighbouring Bolivia and Paraguay. The unique patchwork of lakes, lagoons, rivers and marshes brims with tropical flora and fauna, including rare and elusive jaguars, giant river otters, marsh deer and hyacinth macaws is easily one of the world’s best-preserved wetlands, even though less than two percent of it is officially protected, and the rest is privately owned.

2. EVERGLADES, USA

The Everglades National Park is North America’s most extensive flooded grassland, covering about 2,400 square miles of south Florida. Now, most of the park is only accessible by boat and you will be able to take tours through the mangroves from Flamingo and the Gulf Coast. Moreover, experienced canoeists can spend a week on the 99-mile Wilderness Waterway, and rangers lead shorter canoes, kayaking and biking tours. You can even go off-trail hiking, known as slough slogging, to get up close to wading birds, turtles, even alligators.

3. THE CAMARGUE, FRANCE

Now, Camargue is consisting of saltwater lakes and marshland. It is also rich in wildlife and folklore. It’s a nesting ground for pink flamingos, and famous for two unique animal breeds:the Camargue bulls and the semi-wild white horses that have wandered the wetlands for thousands of years. The ornithological park north of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer is a nice place if you want to find flamingos, egrets and herons.

4. OKAVANGO DELTA, BOTSWANA

The Okavango Delta is one of the world’s largest inland delta. It starts in Angola’s western highlands and ends in Botswana, where it fans out into a maze of channels, lagoons and islands, covering 22,000 square miles in wetter years. Also, one- third of it lies within the Moremi Game Reserve, while the rest is divided into private concessions. The delta attracts a vast variety of animals, including elephants and lions. Also, one of the best ways to explore it is from a low-slung mokoro, a traditional dugout canoe, and a mobile camping safari is usually a more wallet-friendly option than a lodge.

5. WALTHAMSTOW WETLANDS, UK

The Walthamstow wetlands are a haven for water birds, like the gadwall and shoveler. It is a stopover for migrating birds, such as, lapwings and sandpipers, and a breeding ground for kingfishers, too. This amazing site houses 13 miles of footpath and cycle track, a visitor centre and a cafe with a unique tower that serves as a house for nesting swifts and roosting bats, and a viewing platform on top of the Grade II-listed Coppermill Tower with views over the beautiful London.

6. KAKADU, AUSTRALIA

Now, one of the most popular landmarks of the huge Kakadu National Park in Australia’s Northern Territory is the Yellow Water Billabong. This wetland is a part of the South Alligator River floodplain, and is one of the best places to take in the country’s wildlife in its natural habitat. You can take a short Yellow Water Cruise that departs daily from Jabiru to spot saltwater crocodiles, sea eagles, whistling ducks and buffalo. Also, you can visit Kakadu as part of the 456-mile Nature’s Way drive, which starts in Darwin and go through the wetlands, gorges and waterfalls across this land, that is so rich in aboriginal culture.

7. DANUBE DELTA, ROMANIA

Now, as we know, Europe’s second largest delta is created by the mighty River Danube, which flows about 1,800 miles from Black Forest of Germany to Romania, where it mixes into the Black Sea. This delta’s 2,200 square miles serves as a host to about 300 species of endemic and migratory birds, including white pelicans, pygmy cormorants and the red-breasted geese. Over 3,400 animal species can also be found here, as well as 1,700 plant species. And, the best way to experience this Danube delta is by a boat, whether on a passenger ferry, an organised excursion or you can also hire your own canoe.

8. BANGWEULU WETLANDS, ZAMBIA

The Bangweulu wetlands is a community-owned and protected wetland in northeastern Zambia, housing species, like the endangered black lechwe, a water-loving antelope. And its main attraction is its amazing birdlife; more than 430 species, including geese, pelicans, spoonbills, storks, herons, ibises and cranes. The star of the show is undoubtedly the stunning shoebill, which is a huge, prehistoric-looking bird with a striking similarity to the dodo, and Bangweulu is one of its last remaining breeding sites. Interestingly, since the NGO African Parks took over the wetlands in 2008, poaching has significantly decreased and wildlife numbers are slightly recovering.

9. KERALA BACKWATERS, INDIA

Now, the Kerala backwaters are a stretch of lakes and lagoons, linked by channels and fed by about 40 rivers, stretching for more than 900 kilometres. When the fresh water meets the Arabian Sea, it creates an ecosystem that provides for an amazing natural habitat for several unique species of aquatic life, including crabs, frogs and birds. The locals have used the scenic, palm-fringed waterways for centuries, for fishing, agriculture and transporting rice and spices. These waters also attract travelers, who cruise on kettuvallams, that are traditional rice boats turned into floating hotels, for a little taste of the rural Keralan life.

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