“Heat, Dust and Sand”…..

Blog — By on December 15, 2012 2:36 pm

A palpable sense of disappointment could be the initial reaction of a settler arriving for the first time in Northern Namibia. It can hardly be described as an “Eden”. It has to be one of the more inhospitable places on Earth; but there is always beauty to be found in every landscape.

The scenery is quite breathtaking and the diversity of the region’s geological strata is extraordinary. The colours can be wonderful, especially with the sunrise and sunset. The night skies are clear and are an astrologer’s dream.

As one travels west across this region, the Kalahari sands merge into the Namib desert, which in turn borders the Atlantic Ocean and forms the Skeleton Coast. There are enormous, seemingly unending sand dune fields criss-crossed by shale and granite mountain ranges. Some of the landscape reminds you of cowboy films with enormous, towering buttes rising out of the desert floor.
Survival is hard, but some animals have adapted surprisingly well.

On our journey, we have seen the desert elephant, desert giraffe, Hartmann’s mountain zebra, springbok and black rhinoceros. These animals have come to terms with the tough environment. The desert giraffe gets most of its water from the plants that it eats and rarely needs to drink from a water hole or river……a giraffe from the Kruger wouldn’t last a fortnight in this harsh land!
We have also seen the magnificent Oryx, an amazingly beautiful antelope that manages to thrive in the toughest conditions. We have found them in areas that seemingly can’t support life.

However, in my opinion, the most spectacular animal is the black rhinoceros. Namibia supports the last endemic population in Africa. We were very lucky and privileged to see three of these magnificent animals on a walking safari. For me, it was one of the real highlights of our journey. These majestic animals are a throwback to the age of the dinosaur. Yet they are threatened with extinction mainly because some far eastern men can’t get it up or arab men want a rhino horn dagger handle!!

From next year, Namibia will introduce a no hunting policy in the conservancies that support the black rhinoceros. Unlike Botswana, this will not be a nationwide ban and one can’t help but feel that the really tough decisions are not yet being made in Namibia. The government needs to push down hard on the accelerator of wildlife protection before it is too late.

We are now on the outskirts of Swakopmund, heading south out of Northern Namibia. The heat is still very much with us, but the sand and choking dust are beginning to recede. Our journey through this region has been memorable in many ways. It has tested both man and machinery to the limits!!


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