There are two distinct geographic zones, neither are able to support viable agriculture. The flora of the well drained northern area, part of the Zambeziwatershed, is dominated by mopane and mixed terminalia, which is distinctly different from the rest.
Elsewhere the Kalahari scrublands, covered with stunted, scattered woodlands of teak and umtshibi trees, drain into Botswana's Makgadikgadi Depression. This habitat is characterised by marshy depressions, vleis and fragile open grasslands on shallow soils.
In the nineteen century this land was the royal hunting reserve of Mzilikazi and his successor Lobengula. But the arrival of the first white hunters and settlers signalled the slaughter of its wildlife by the thousands. As their blood soaked deep into the sparse soils, it left empty, useless wasteland, denuded of wildlife, unfit for farming.
It was declared a game reserve in 1928 and with neighbouring Robins Game sanctuary, became a national park under he National Park Act of 1949. Originally, Robins Game sanctuary belonged to H G Robins, a cattle rancher.
An area of outstanding natural beauty and phenomenal wildlife - here the Zambezi River, flowing slowly eastwards for thousands of years, has left behind the remains of old river channels forming small seasonal ponds and pools spread over an area of several hundred square kilometres. These extend several kilometres back from the river where, on fertile terraces huge mahogany and acacia trees cast luxuriant shade.
Today Mana Pools, one of Zimbabwe's four World Heritage Sites, is the stage for one of Africa's greatest natural spectacles - a classic theatre of the wild, attracting hordes of animals during the long, hot African summer, drawn by the abundance of water and the lush grazing along its banks.
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