Chobe National Park History

Chobe National Park is Botswana’s first national park, but the area’s interesting history extends much further back than its birth as a national park in 1967.

The first inhabitants of this area were descended from nomadic San bushmen  and were called the Basarwa; their rock paintings can still be found in some of the park’s rocky hills. Over the early decades of the twentieth century they were also joined by the Basubia and Sekgona peoples.

In the 1930s, the then resident of commissioner of Bechuanaland (as Botswana was called under British colonial rule), Sir Charles Rey, visited the Chobe River and subsequently proposed that the whole region become a wildlife reserve, following the trend set by the newly-proclaimed Kruger National Park in South Africa to move away from hunting and towards conservation.

In 1932, 24,000km2 of land was declared a non-hunting area.

Creation of the national park was delayed by heavy tsetse fly infestations in 1943, but by 1953 the project was back on the table again. The Chobe Game Reserv was officially created in 1960, before becoming a national park in 1967.

At the time there were still several industrial settlements, particularly in the Serondela area, where the timber industry proliferated. These settlements were gradually moved out of the park. In 1975 the whole park was finally exempt from human activity, the traces are still visible at Serondela.