The Makgadikgadi Pans National Park stretches away from the banks of the Boteti River, through its interior of scrubland and grasslands. The western boundary provides for mineral rich grass lands and the Boteti River which supplies the much needed sustenance for the herds which inhabit the park.
Leroo La Tau is situated on the western bank of the Boteti River, north west of Khumaga village, about 140 kilometers south east of Maun. The river’s eastern bank forms the boundary of the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park.
The Boteti river is the main outflow of the Okavango Delta, collecting the water that flows past Maun, and stretches about 250 km southeast finally ending at Lake Xau on the extreme south western edge of the great Makgadikgadi salt pans. There was permanent water in the river since long before Livingstone first explored the area in the late 1840s and brought the existence of Lake Ngami to the attention of the outside world. The river provided water for the great herds of wildlife that seasonally utilized the short grass plains on the north-west side of the Makgadikgadi, and latterly provided water for the Setswana cattle herders who moved onto the western bank. The river was thus a natural barrier between the wildlife and the cattle – and was a natural boundary for the National park.
In the mid 1980s the flood waters of the Okavango started to decline as the region entered a cycle of low rainfall in the catchment – and the Boteti River, receiving far less water, began to dry back progressively. It finally started drying up completely in the mid 1990s. The water stopped reaching Leroo La Tau by about 1987/88 – leaving a few waterholes in the riverbed fed by underground seeps, and trapping a small pod of hippo who stayed in a deep pool near Leroo La Tau, together with crocodiles who became completely terrestrial and denned in caves in the eastern river bank opposite Leroo La Tau.
The zebra and wildebeest herds continued to use the rich grass plains and migrating to the river at the end of winter to access the water in the seeps.The Makgadikgadi National Park is a harsh dry environment, suited to Gemsbok and Kudu, but the river provided a life-giving source of water for the zebra and wildebeest utilising the eastern grass plains.
2009 saw the highest floods in the Okavango in the past 25 years, and the Boteti River has started flowing strongly again with the water reaching and flowing past Leroo La Tau.After the start of the rainy season, this desert area teems with wildlife as herds of zebra and wildebeest graze to their heart’s content on the wide open green grassland plains of the Makgadikgadi. During the wet season there is an influx of migratory bird species, while resident desert species welcome their visitors by showing off their breeding plumage.The Makgadikgadi Pans National Park is not only about lion, zebra and wildebeest but also boasts Chobe bushbuck, leopard, cheetah, brown and spotted hyena, impala, kudu, jackal, porcupine, genet and caracal, to name but a few. In addition, there is also the possibility of seeing the rare white rhinoceros