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The National Parks of Namibia- Nkasa Lupala and Dorob

  
  

Namibian national parks like Etosha National Park and the Waterberg Plateau Park are world-renowned and well-visited by international and national tourists. This blog post is not about those parks. Today we want introduce you to two national parks run that you may not have heard of before...

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A Land Rover with Sandwich Harbour in the background.
One of the best things to do in Namibia is to explore locations that are off the beaten path.

(Image via Cardboard Box)


Nkasa Lupala National Park

We start in the north-east of Namibia in the Zambezi (Caprivi) Region. As you may already know this part of this huge nation is markedly different from most of the stark landscapes you find through out the mostly arid countryside. The land in the Zambezi is riverine and lush. It is home to several wetlands which and the region is criss-crossed by perennially flowing bodies of water.

Namibia, National Parks, Namibia National Parks, Adventure, safari, Birding, 4x4 africa

The landscape is spectacular in the Zambezi.

(Image via Cardboard Box)

 

In this corner of Namibia, just to the north of Botswana, you can find the Nkasa Lupara National Park (formerly known as the Mamili National Park). The park contains the largest protected wetland area in the Land of the Brave.

Screen Shot 2014 08 01 at 12.37.22 AM1024px Map Nkasa Rupara National Park

Maps showing the location of the park.
(Images via the MET)

 

The network of rivers flowing around small islands and reed beds are home to hippopotamuses, crocodiles, several buck species and a massive population of birds. There are, in fact, more species of birds in this small area than anywhere else in Namibia.

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A bloat of hippos silently swim through the river.

(Image via Cardboard Box)

 

Before you back you pack your bags and head to Nkasa Lupala you should know that journeying through this national park is not for the feint of heart. There are very few facilities and sometimes the park is inaccessible due to heavy rainfall.

This usually will only happen during the rainy months of January and February. However, if the rains don’t spoil the fun, and you have a thirst for adventure then you should know that the camp is a 4x4 enthusiast and wildlife tracker’s dream location. For information on exploring the park by 4x4 click here.

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Exploring the park is tough, but worth it to see undisturbed wildlife.

(Image via Cardboard Box Travel Shop)

 

In the winter some of the riverbeds dry up and visitors to the park can watch lions, large herds of buffalo and elephants migrate across the park. Making Nkasa Lupala the perfect place for a rough and tumble adventure tourist to do some exploring.

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There are even occasional sightings of lions in this riverine park.
(Image via Cardboard Box)


Click here for the official Nkasa Lupara National Park page, courtesy of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.

 

Dorob National Park

The second national park we are looking at is located on the coast in the middle of Namibia’s vast Atlantic coast. Close to the Skeleton Coast and pressed up against the Namib Desert you will find Dorob National Park. As you might imagine, this national park’s landscape is very different to the lush and watery Nkasa Lupala National Park. Dorob is also far more accessible with the towns of Swakopmund, Henties Bay and Walvis Bay found within the park's borders.

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This map shows the area of the coast that falls under Dorob National Park.
(Map via NACOMA)

 

We mentioned Dorob a few weeks ago in an interview with Chris Nel (that you can read here). However, many visitors outside of Namibia have yet to hear about this gem of a park… Dorob was created in 2010 and since its creation the entire coastline of Namibia now falls under strict environmental protection. The reason this had to happen is because of the fragile biodiversity of the ecosystems found in this part of Namibia.

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This coastline has been rescued from destruction.

(Image via World Super Travel)

 

As far as attractions go in this park, BirdLife International has declared the park an “Important Bird Area” because this part of the Namibian coast is a haven that over 1.6 million birds call home. This makes Dorob an absolute must-visit place for anyone who is a birding enthusiast. Of particular interest to many tourists in this regard is Sandwich Harbour that boasts a sizeable population of flamingos.

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This famous spot located within Dorob and is definitely worth a visit.
(Image via Sandwich Harbour)

 

There is also some excellent fishing in this park and the town of Henties Bay should be the place you should aim for if you are a keen angler. Before you plan a trip read this page, as it details what anglers can and can’t do in the park.

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Going to Dorob? Why not go fishing!
(Image via Henties Bay)

 

While unguided exploration of the park is allowed, it is important to note that after years of careless behaviour by locals and tourists the area has had to become subject to some badly needed restrictions. So if you want to explore the park on your own you can check out some maps which detail where you can and can’t go in the park here.

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Rare creatures like the Namib Ghecko live along the coastline and need to be protected.
(Photo by Chris Nel)

 

For more information on the park you can download their press kit here or have a look at Travel News Namibia's breakdown of the regulations here.

 

These are just two national parks you can find in the Land of the Brave. In total there are eleven nationally run parks within Namibia and over the coming months we will bring to light some of these other parks. For a list of these parks click here.

 

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Want to know more about National Parks in Namibia?
Check our our posts on Etosha and the Waterberg below.

How to Explore Etosha

Safaris in the Waterberg

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Explore Namibia's Precious Coastline and Dunes with Chris Nel

  
  

Chris Nel is a tour guide who runs the Living Desert Adventure through the Namib Desert near Sossussvlei. On these tours he shares his wisdom and expertise with visitors. Chris was also involved in the establishment of the Dorob National Park in 2010 along Namibia’s Skeleton Coast.

We had a chance to sit down and chat with Chris about desert conservation and the role that ordinary citizens can play in protecting Namibia’s natural treasures.

Chameleon 9

A desert-adapted chameleon photographed on one of Chris' adventure tours.
(Picture courtesy of Chris Nel)

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Vehicles Chris uses for his Living Desert Adventure Tours.
(Picture courtesy of Chris Nel)

 

How long have you been involved with desert conservation in Namibia? What made you decide to get into it in the first place?

I have always loved nature and always been interested in protecting it since a little child but in 2002 I started doing day tours in the dunes around Swakopmund. At that stage I realised that quad-biking had become the new craze of the nation and thousands of people were driving all over the Namib Desert just for fun.

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Chris getting up close with a desert chameleon.
(Picture courtesy of Chris Nel)

 

I attempted to run an educational tour for tourists and it was virtually impossible to do a quality tour because of the noise, aesthetic destruction (with tracks all over the place) and the little creatures we were showing people were getting killed under the wheels of the quads and 4x4 vehicles.

The year I started doing tours out of Swakopmund I realised Namibia had a big problem in the coastal Namib, largely caused by quads and 4x4’s. I did a flight over the Namib to take pictures and videos of the state of the desert. It was this day that my heart broke- I saw one of the most destroyed deserts in the world.

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When Chris saw the damage he knew he had to do something to help.
(Picture courtesy of Chris Nel)


What are the most important lessons you hope to impress upon the people in your tour groups?

For me it is vital that people learn to respect and appreciate the desert, it is only then that we have a chance to understand the desert. If more people understand the desert better then there will be a greater chance that they will see the beauty of the desert.

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Chris feels that once people understand, they will want to protect.
This is why he encourages guests to close to the fauna of the desert.

(Picture courtesy of Chris Nel)

 

What do you enjoy most about taking a guest into the desert for the first time in their life?

I love showing them from the beginning that this is one of the driest places on earth relative to rain, but because of the fog we have a certain degree of moisture that sustains a large variety of specialised desert life.

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A desert adapted chameleon having a snack.
(Picture courtesy of Chris Nel)

 

I always start by telling them that because it almost never rains we will not see typical ‘safari’ wildlife (some tourists want to see lions and elephants no matter what part of Namibia they are exploring). I then tell them that the fog is made of micro drops and this means that on the tour we will only find micro elephants, bonzai crocodiles, and tiny lions.

 

The Namib Desert is an extremely fragile ecosystem, what do you think are some of the greatest threats to its survival and continuing biodiversity?

The Namib is very fragile, especially its gravel plains. When vehicles or quads travel on the gravel plains the tracks can last for hundreds of years. Dust and gravel form a crust with the humidity of the fog over hundreds of years. When the wind blows over these tracks, the dust comes out but the ridges of the tracks stay on the plains for just about forever. You can see where the Germans crossed the desert in 1880 in ox wagons.

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Marks from the German settlers' wagons from well over a hundred years ago.
(Image via Andy Cowley)


I believe the aesthetic damage is of great concern as tourists and local Namibians don’t want to see their beautiful desert scared for life. I don’t think all of the animals are in danger but many get killed from off road driving.

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Animals like this Namib dune gheko are at risk when vehicle access is not regulated.
(Picture courtesy of Chris Nel)

Can you tell us a bit more about your involvement with the Dorob National Park?

After seeing the destruction of the desert I started an online petition to bring it to the attention of Namibia and the rest of the world. The petition was signed by thousands of people and it lead to the Namibian government forming the Coastal Management Committee (the CMC). The CMC brought together people from all different spheres of the community - town councils, regional councils, commercial fisheries, tourism stakeholders, local residents - to work together in finding a solution to the devastation of our precious desert.

A video about Namibia’s incredible and fragile coastline.
(Video via NACOMA)

 

Around the same time, fellow conservationist Rod Braby managed to get sponsors from the World Bank to start NACOMA (The Namibian Coast Conservation and Management project). Together with NACOMA, the CMC and the people of Namibia, we were able to establish the Dorob National Park.

Helping with a project like Dorob was stressful at first. Holiday makers from all over Southern Africa would flock to Swakopmund with their quad bikes and 4x4s. As an advocate for restricting their playground, locals feared tourism (their livelihood) would suffer. There was a lot of opposition, even death threats. This was despite expert conservationists like the late Dr. Hugh Berry saying: “The most destroyed accessible coastline in the world is found in Namibia”.

Adventure, Conservation, Skeleton coast, Namibia, Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, quad biking, Namib, dune

No rational person could deny the seriousness of the situation.
(Picture courtesy of Chris Nel)

The truth is that we didn’t want to ban people from enjoying our dunes, but there were simply too many people joy-riding over Namibia’s deserts and ruining the beautiful landscapes that would be so important for tourism in the future. Steps had to be taken and access to the park had to be controlled.

Adventure, Conservation, Skeleton coast, Namibia, Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, quad biking, Namib, dune

Etosha has strict rules about staying on the roads in the park…
That’s why it looks like it did 50 years ago even though millions of tourists visit each year.


The government zoned areas so everyone could enjoy this unique part of Namibia. So whether you are a tourist, an environmentalist, or a quad biker, there's something for everyone to enjoy. You can download the park’s rules and regulations here.

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Namibia is now the only country on earth with its entire coastline falling into a national park.

 

Is there a way that people not already directly involved with a conservation organisation can get involved?

The best way for the public to get involved is through NACOMA. You can read their brochure on their website. You can also be a game warden in your own capacity – approach people who are driving off the road and hand them the brochure, stop them littering, and make sure they respect the area.

Adventure, Conservation, Skeleton coast, Namibia, Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, quad biking, Namib, dune

There is still a long way to go, but there is good reason to be hopeful about the future.
(Picture courtesy of Chris Nel)

 

What part of your conservation work are you most proud of thus far?

I am most proud of my involvement in the creation of Dorob. Ten years ago everything was destroyed, it felt like mission impossible, but today it’s quiet, beautiful and flourishing again. Thinking back to all the death threats and stress I had to deal with, I still think it was totally worth it.

I am also proud of our country. It took a lot of years, tears and sweat but now our children can enjoy our hard work. The town of Swakopmund is within the area that has been declared a national park- several thousand people live in a national park, and that is quite something if you think about it.

Adventure, Conservation, Skeleton coast, Namibia, Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, quad biking, Namib, dune

Dorob National Park is Namibia’s first national park since independence.
Its creation ensures that landscapes like the one above can be shared with future generations.

 

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The Wild Dogs of Namibia

  
  

The African wild dog or Lycaon pictus is truly one of nature’s wonders. Its intelligence, social pack structure and beauty make it one of the most interesting animals to track and view on safari. Namibian conservation groups are currently trying to bring these canines back from the brink of extinction and now you can help. 

Getting to know the African wild dog

Once these animals could be found in over 39 countries across the African continent with a population of more than 500 000. Now, however, estimates put the population of the African wild dog between 3000 and 5000 spread across just 14 to 25 countries in Africa.

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Two young dogs.
(Image via AfriCat)

There are many reasons for this dramatic decline in numbers: Human encroachment, poaching, and competition from larger predators have all played their part in decimating the population of these animals.

As a result of these factors the African wild dog is the fifth most endangered mammal in Africa. It is also the second most endangered predator on the continent and with numbers dangerously low it has been declared endangered and conservation efforts have slowly been increased.

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A cool drink of water on a typically hot day.
(Image via Lamb and Serpent)  

The African wild dogs are some of nature’s most well adapted predators and when a pack goes on a hunt they have over an 80% chance of making a kill. This figure is all the more impressive when you consider that lions, often thought to be excellent hunters, have a success ratio of about 30% on each hunt they begin.

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The dogs play, live and hunt together.
(Image via AfriCat)  

A large part of their hunting successes and social hierarchies stem from their ability to effectively communicate with one another using strange chirp-like calls that help co-ordinate their activities.

Members of a pack will vocalize to help coordinate their movements.

It is rare to see the dogs on a hunt but there have been a few documentaries that have managed to capture this amazing feat of pack hunting. Click here to watch the BBC’s Planet Earth team capture an amazing wild dog hunt in the Okavango.

Namibia’s Wild Dogs

Namibia has had a consistently critically low population of wild dogs and current estimates put their numbers anywhere between 300 and 600. As such the conservation of these rare animals is fast becoming a priority for conservation groups in Namibia.

Two organisations stand out in Namibia in their efforts to protect these endangered animals. They are N/a’an ku sê and the AfriCat Foundation at Okonjima private game reserve. Each organisation has different but complimentary programs aimed at getting people to better understand African wild dogs and thus ensure their survival.

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This trio is trying to beat the Namibia heat under the shade of a small tree.

N/a’an ku sê

N/a’an ku sê is a privately run foundation that operates just outside Windhoek and its aim is to help with any and all conservation efforts in Namibia. One of their points of pride is their wild dog program. The foundations maintains a massive enclosure on their premises that houses several wild dogs that were rescued as pups after their mother died.

These dogs now live their lives within their special reserve as they are unfortunately unfit to be put back in the wild. The dogs are observed within their enclosure so that the team at N/a’an ku sê can learn more about the social structures and behavioural patterns of these enigmatic animals. The upside to their being in captivity is that guests can get an up close and personal encounter (behind a fence of course!) with the dogs.

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Wild dogs surveying their enclosure at N/a’an ku sê.

The captive population of wild dogs can also be used as an invaluable genetic reserve that may one day help to repopulate the wild with these animals. The foundation also hopes that by better understanding the way in which the African wild dog behaves they will be able to educate farmers and locals all over the country on how best to live in sympathy with the dogs.

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A young male wild dog takes a breather.
(Image via AfriCat)

On the Carnivore Tour offered at the lodge you will not only learn about and see N/a’an ku sê’s pack of African wild dogs but you will also get a chance to observe (and sometimes interact with) lion, leopard, baboons, caracal and cheetahs. The tour is one-of-a-kind and is a must for conservation enthusiasts. All proceeds from these tours go straight back into helping animal conservation projects around Namibia.

You can also help support the projects at N/a’an ku sê by visiting their page here, or you can take part in one of their many and world-renowned volunteer programs by clicking here.

AfriCat

AfriCat has been in operation since 1993 and in that time the organisation has been rescuing, rehabilitating and re-releasing predators onto the Okonjima nature reserve in central and northern Namibia. Here they lead natural lives until they day they move on from this world.

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The program has successfully rehabilitated many African wild dogs.
See Raine, Rex, and Ricky.
(Image via AfriCat)

The foundation is only able to keep up their good work because of the money they bring in from tourists doing safaris and other activities in the park as well as through their highly effective adoption and donation programs.

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Join the pack today.
(Image via AfriCat)

AfriCat release a yearly report on the status of African wild dog conservation and you can read it here and see the good work that is being done across Namibia by the foundation and other conservation groups.

Going Forward

A unique challenge in the conservation of wild dogs is that a pack needs vast tracts of land in which to roam in order to survive and thrive. Most national parks in Africa, however, are too small for this and as a result many of the packs roam onto unprotected land and farmlands.

The resulting human/animal conflicts that result from the roaming packs of wild dogs have been largely responsible for the rapid decline in their numbers over the last few decades. The wild dog also suffers from a bad (and ungrounded) reputation of being a ferocious killer and as such is often hunted without mercy by overzealous farmers trying to protect their livestock.

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Here’s looking at you!
(Image via William Burrard-Lucas via WWF)

Through organisations like AfriCat and N/a’an ku sê we can all help in reversing the decline in their numbers and ensure that future generations will be able to witness these remarkable beasts in their natural environments.

Whether you donate your time or your money both are completely appreciated and welcome.

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A lone male looks to the horizon
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10 Reasons You Should Visit Namibia

  
  

In June last year we announced that the lucky winner of our Landscape Escape competition was one Kevin Read from Canada. Kevin won a once in a lifetime trip around Namibia and decided to document what he and his wife Ruth discovered on their journey through the land of the brave.

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Ruth and Kevin- winners!

Kevin and Ruth enjoyed their stay so much that they compiled a list of reasons why they think you should take the plunge and explore this vast and beautiful country as soon as possible.

10 Reasons You Should Visit Namibia

We spent the months of November and December 2013 exploring the country of Namibia. Over the course of almost eight weeks, we drove approximately 10,000 kms (6,200 miles) all over the country. We experienced the many different cultures and saw so many natural wonders.

But one of the things that we didn't see was North American tourists.

People from Canada and the U.S. who come to Africa seem to be attracted to Kenya, Botswana, or South Africa all of which have more highly developed tourism infrastructure. As a result, they tend to have more "luxury" travel options. Namibia is a little more wild, and still has a lot of areas that may be considered early development when it comes to tourism.

Here's why we think North Americans should visit Namibia...

1. They speak English in Namibia

We find that a lot of North Americans are unsure about visiting a country where they will have a difficult time being understood. You won't have a problem in Namibia. Despite the fact that there are approximately eight other popular languages (Afrikaans, German, and many local languages) English is the official language. All road signs are in English, and although you may meet some rural people who only speak their local language, there will always be someone close by who can translate. 

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All road, traffic, and tourism signs are in English. 

2. Birds 

We've never been much into birds. Namibia may have changed that a little bit! There are around 700 species of birds in Namibia! It seemed like every day that we were in Namibia we would see some kind of different bird. And of course many are so colorful, and with long bright feathers. Oh, and owls! We have never seen so many different owls.  

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An owl in Namibia. 

3. You can go camping! 

The easiest and most popular way to tour Namibia is with your own vehicle. The local public transportation system isn't the easiest, but if you have your own vehicle you can go anywhere. It's also common, and a great idea, to do a self drive camping tour of Namibia, and there are a LOT of campgrounds in Namibia, In fact, we were surprised at the number of beautiful campgrounds.  

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Our camping vehicle from Namibia Car Rental

4. The desert is truly beautiful 

I've never been much of a desert person. I typically like trees and greenery, but Namibia gave us a whole different perspective on the desert and the different landscapes that the desert presents to you. While there certainly are some long boring sections of desert scenery, there is also very stunning scenery that makes you wonder how it can possibly occur naturally. 

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The dunes at Sossusvlei. 

5. Protection of the environment 

If you are an ethical traveler, you may be interested to know that Namibia was the first African country to incorporate protection of the environment into its constitution. The Government of Namibia has reinforced this by giving its rural communities the right to manage their wildlife through communal conservancies. These conservancies are clearly defined tracts of land, registered with government, where local communities manage their natural resources through a democratically elected committee and approved management plans.  

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Many private lodges in Namibia also have their own environmental conservancies. 

6. It is a safe and politically stable country

The country is very safe, and the people are friendly. There are only two million people in the whole country, and 40% of all reported crime occurs in the capital city of Windhoek. We never once felt unsafe.   

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Ruth, visiting with the locals. 

7. The wildlife 

We spent a total of seven days exploring Namibia's Etosha National Park. But even though Etosha is a world class wildlife park, we found that you don't really need to be in a National Park to experience wildlife. Yes, you'll see everything in Etosha...lions, elephants, rhinos. But you'll also see animals simply wandering near the side of the road outside of parks. The Caprivi region of Namibia gave us our best animal viewing outside of Etosha. Plan on at least four days to properly explore Etosha National Park.  

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Animals of Etosha National Park. 

8. The different cultures 

Namibia has people who you will not find anywhere else in the world. People who continue living with ancient traditions and lifestyles without the pressures and conveniences experienced in most of the world. One of the highlights of our trip was the couple of hours we spent with the Himba people in the northwestern region of the country.  

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Himba women. 

8. Hiking 

Probably not known by many, but Namibia has a lot of premier hiking trails. November and December aren't really the best time of year to hike in Namibia because it's summer and it's often too hot to go hiking. The best time of year to visit for that type of outdoor activity is from April through October. Fish River Canyon offers the most well known hiking opportunity, a five day excursion along the riverbed at the bottom of the canyon.   

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Kevin, at Fish River Canyon

9. Namibia is still relatively unknown 

One of the main reasons we wanted to go there! We like going to places that are a little more off the beaten path when it comes to tourism, and we're glad that we came to a place that is really only just starting out in the tourism world when you compare it to most other countries.  

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The ghost town of Kolmanskop. 

10. Namibia has the best beer in Africa! 

Of course the most important reason to visit any country is the quality of it's beer! Namibian beer is brewed to the highest German standards and Namibians are passionate about their beer!  

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Namibian beers are very good.

If you want to read more about some of Kevin and Ruth's other globe trotting adventures then head on over to their blog by clicking here.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest so that you can keep track of any news or competitions and you too could find yourself on the African adventure of a life time.

                                  

REST: Saving Namibia's Vultures

  
  

The Rare and Endangered Species Trust is an organisation that operates in Central-Northern Namibia near the town of Otjiwarongo and the Okonkjima game reserve. Many of you may remember them from our post on Pangolin conservation, but REST also plays a leading role in the effort to conserve endangered vultures in Namibia. Read on to find out how you can help too.

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The Cape Griffon vulture, in flight
.
(Image courtesy of REST)

The vultures' plight

Most people are surprised when they find out about the plight of the various species of vultures in southern Africa. The fact is that vulture numbers are down across the region, and unless strong action is taken immediately we risk losing many of these species.

In Namibia Maria Diekmann decided to take action and many years ago founded REST. The trust now runs many programs to help save various species of animals in and around Namibia. Maria, along with her dedicated band of volunteers and permanent staff, hopes to educate the public on the plight of the vulture and in doing so illustrate just how vital these birds are for a functioning and healthy ecosystem.

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Maria preparing to release Diana, a White Backed vulture, into the wild.
(Image courtesy of REST)

What vultures do for us

Simply put, vultures are nature’s clean-up crew. These birds can eat just about anything, ingest any pathogen and remove it from the ecosystem. What this does is it takes this undesirable meat, and disease, out of the ecosystem.

Without vultures doing this, whatever disease is in an animal’s carcass will get ingested by other scavenging animals (wild dogs, jackals etc) and will eventually land causing a lot of harm to the entire ecosystem that has been robbed of its vultures.

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Wild White Backed vultures nesting.
(Image courtesy of REST)

What is happening to Namibia's vultures?

Poaching is a massive problem for vultures in southern Africa. These birds are the ultimate innocent bystanders in the bloody war that is poaching. This is what happens: A gang of poachers will kill an animal for its ivory, horn or pelt and will then discard the carcass in the bush. Once this is done the vultures, who have keen eyesight and a knack for sniffing out a meal, will circle and eventually descend down to feed on the dead animal.

Many game rangers and anti-poaching teams had begun to use the circling vultures as a way of spotting where an act of poaching may have occurred and could then begin to give chase to any possible poachers. But the poachers have gotten wise to this. Now these highly organised gangs of thieves and smugglers will poison a carcass that they have killed in the hopes that it will kill off the vultures in area and thus make it harder for the game rangers and authorities to find them.

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Nelson, a rescued Cape Griffon vulture who, unfortunately,
is too damaged to send back into the wild.

(Image courtesy of Linda Millington, via REST)

In August, this year, 600-1000 vultures were killed when one poached elephant carcass was deliberately poisoned in an attempt to rid an area in the north of Namibia of its vultures. Visit here to see if you can lend a hand to help lessen this crisis. It is estimated that every year nearly 2000 cultures are deliberately poisoned.

There are other problems facing vultures in our modern world as well. Loss of habitat, internal organs for use in traditional medicine, ignorance and even misguided farmers who pump their cattle and herds full of an anti-inflammatory drug that is as deadly as a poison to a vulture. We cannot stop all of these things at once, but we can begin to reverse the thinking behind each of these problems, one at a time.

The good news

The good news is that you now know about the problem. More good news is that through organisations like REST we can all lend a hand to making the world a little bit more vulture-friendly. And as with most conservation efforts it starts with education. By learning about the vital role, and by teaching this to young children REST fulfills an integral role in bringing awareness to the masses about the plight of the vulture, and you can help.

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Volunteers at REST tagging a Cape Griffon vulture.
This was the first time ever that this species had been tagged using telemetry.

What we can do

You can volunteer. Not only is this a fantastic way to get to learn about a variety of different animals that REST concerns itself with, but it is also a fantastic way to have a unique and moving experience in Namibia. Click this link to find out all the details on REST’s volunteer project.

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Volunteers at REST get the full hands-on experience.
(Image courtesy of REST)

There is accommodation for volunteers with running water and all the amenities you need to live comfortably in the bush. You won’t be finding a TV or anything like that though! The prices are reasonable and all the money paid is ploughed straight back into the trust’s efforts.

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A vulture, flying the coup.

If you do not have the ability, or time, to volunteer then you can always donate money to the trust. All money is directly spent on conservation efforts as the organisation is well streamlined to ensure that no money is wasted on needless bureaucratic expenses.

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Funds are used to maintain things like REST's vulture restaurant.
(Image courtesy of REST)

Maria and REST rely on donations and sponsorships to allow them to continue doing the good work that they do, so once you have finished reading this article please consider donating some time or money to their cause.

The future

One of REST’s focuses is the critically endangered Cape Griffon vulture. There are only 12 breeding pairs left in Namibia of this majestic bird. That is not a big number, and it is even more shocking when you consider that 50 years ago there were over 2000 of these birds.

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Nelson having a bit of a pose for the camera.
(Image courtesy of REST)

But, if you visit REST you can see what is hoped will be the first successful breeding project of the Cape Griffon in captivity. Things are looking good right now and everyone is holding thumbs that this will be the start along the long road to recovery for these vital, and too often forgotten about, birds.

We need to support organisations like REST and we have to educate ourselves, and everyone we know, about the importance of vultures in the wild and by extension, our lives.

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REST is planning for the future by protecting what we have now.


The Desert-Adapted Elephants of Namibia's Kunene Region

  
  

Namibia is home to one of two known groups of desert adapted elephants in the world, with the other group being found in Mali. As mentioned in a previous post, there are several desert dwelling large mammals in Namibia’s north-western Kunene region. Read on to find out more about Damaraland’s desert elephants.

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A family of elephants traverse the harsh terrain together.
(Photo by Michael Poliza)

How do they survive?

These elephants are very similar to the African bush elephant, but are a bit smaller with larger feet and longer legs than their savannah dwelling cousins.

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A lone elephant surveys her arid surroundings.
(Photo by Norbert Schuster)

They, like humans, have a very long lifespan and structured family hierarchies with the family learning how to live in the arid region together from one another.

Eventually when the young males reach puberty they will split off from their familial herd and join up with other maturing bulls with whom they will grow older. After a time these bulls will find a mate and start their own herd.

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A young bull makes his presence known
(Photo by Norbert Schuster)

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A young bull under the tutelage of an elder bull is sometimes called an “askari”.
(Photo via the Cardboard Box)

These adapted elephants travel in smaller groups than your typical African elephants so that there is less pressure on the group to find the amount of food a large herd would need. They are also able to go several days without drinking any water, which together with their ability to walk long distances, helps them get from one oasis to the next.

Check out this video below for some interesting facts on how these large mammals survive in the unforgiving arid landscape!

Surviving in the deser takes practice.
(Video courtesy of Lynda Gregory, commentary by Russell Vinjevold)

Tracking the elephants

Desert elephants are notoriously difficult to spot as they roll around in the desert dust any chance they get, leaving them the colour of the sand found in their natural environment.

They are also very shy and have poor eyesight, but have excellent hearing and a terrific sense of smell. Thus they frighten easily and extreme patience and silence are required if you do not wish to disturb them.

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Desert elephants, blink and you may miss them!
(Photo by Norbert Schuster)

Like the desert rhinos these massive beasts traverse huge distances on a daily basis, covering up to 70km a day in search of water and food in the sparse and stark landscapes they have made their homes. This makes these gentle giants even harder to track since they roam in area that is over 115,154km2.

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A young elephant reaching high for some delicious greenery.
Most sightings of these elephants happen close to food and water sources.

(Photo by Norbert Schuster)

If you want to track these magnificent beasts you can do so while staying at the Palmwag Rhino Camp that we spoke about last week in our post on desert rhinos. Or ask a specialist operator like Terra Nova to help you organise such an adventure.

Conservation efforts- Get involved!

There were once almost 3000 desert elephants in the Kunene region, but rampant poaching and hunting in the 1980’s casued these numbers to plumet and the gentle giants were on the brink of extinction until just recently.

But through the concerted efforts of the Namibian government and private groups like the Elephant Human Relations Aid these desert animals are slowly growing in numbers each year. Presently the free-roaming population of desert elephants in the Kunene region is sitting around 600.

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Two elephants share a cuddle at a watering hole.
(Photo via EHRA)

EHRA has been running a volunteer project for over eight years now and it has been a huge success. If you read the first hand testimonials of volunteers who have been through the program and look at the tangible effects the organisation has had on the conservation of the Kunene’s elephants, it is clear that EHRA is doing good work for one of Namibia’s threatened species.

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Volunteers at EHRA.
(Photo via EHRA)

If you do not have the time to take part in one of the many volunteer programs associated with conserving the desert elephants but still want to get involved, then you always have the option of donating money to EHRA who will dedicate your pledges to protecting Damaraland’s rare natural treasures.

We can all help

As long as organisations like EHRA exist, and as long as people in Namibia and from around the world remain committed to protecting these beautiful animals they will continue to fight back from the brink of extinction.

Their intelligence and majesty should be preserved for future generations and we can all take part in ensuring this can happen!

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A herd of elephants head out in search of water and food.
(Photo by Anette Mossbacher)

 

More on this topic

Read about the desert adapted rhinos of Namibia

Download our adventure travel planning guide

Find out about Damaraland & Kunene region

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The Desert-Adapted Rhinos of the Kunene

  
  

Namibia has some beautiful environments and one such place is the Kunene region in the North. The region, which is divided into Damaraland and Kaokoland, is mostly desert and semi-desert yet is home to three remarkably large mammals. Specially adapted rhinos, elephants and lions live out their lives in this wind swept and beautifully stark region. Here's more info on the desert adapted black rhinos found in Damaraland and how to catch a glimpse of them on your next trip to Namibia.

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The Kunene after some good rains.
(image courtesy of SRI via Save the Rhino)

What is a desert-adapted rhino?

Many people already know that the black rhino is one of the most endangered large mammals in the world. It is also well-documented that since the 1980’s Namibia has been re-introducing these magnificent beasts into the wild with enormous success.

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Black rhino and calf.
(image courtesy of Areb Busch)

One of the most interesting types of black rhinos that have been rehabilitated in Namibia are the desert adapted black rhinos of the Kunene region. Hunting and poaching had totally eradicated their populations in the arid regions, but since the 1980’s thanks to the work of organisations like the Save the Rhino Trust the population of these national treasures has increased five times!

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Desert-adapted black rhinos at dusk.
(image courtesy of Namibia Tours Safaris)

These specially adapted beasts are able to withstand sweltering heat in excess of 40°C (100°F) and below freezing temperatures that are common place when the sun goes down in the arid regions of Namibia. The rhinos are mostly nocturnal so that they can avoid the excessive heat of the day.

Rhinos caught by a stealth camera on a night-time frolick.
(video courtesy of Save the Rhino International)

What makes desert-adapted rhinos different?

You will know when you have spotted a desert rhino because they look a bit different to other black rhinos. First things first, have a look at the rhinos below; do you notice anything different when compared to other black rhinos?

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You will notice that the horn is slightly longer and thinner than a regular Namibian black rhino, this helps desert rhinos to forage in barren environments.

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A more pronounced example of these animals' specially adapted horns.
(images courtesy of Save the Rhino)

The Rhinos of the Kunene are also unlike other black rhinos in that they are usually found on their own and not in small groups. However, the mother will stay with her calf for up to two and a half years which is long enough for her to teach her young how to survive in the tough conditions found in their habitat.

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Mother and calf foraging in a dried up river bed
(image courtesy of Save the Rhino)

As a result many desert rhino are ‘lone rangers’ and they cut striking figures on the orange and brown backdrops of the natural landscapes. Some of the lone bulls have been known to be quite aggressive, so keep this in mind should you ever be so lucky as to spot one in the wild.

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Ben the lone bull, fabled to be quite a no-nonsense character.
(image courtesy of Anne and Steve Toon via African Rhino)

How can you get close to the rhinos?

These animals roam in a 25,000km2 region, which is only a little bit smaller than the whole of Belgium! The rhinos are also experts at traversing this massive area and have home ranges of between 500km2-600km2. So if you want to spot a desert rhino in its natural environment you will have to be very patient and very committed.

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You need a keen eye and enormous amounts of patience to spot one of these shy creatures.
(image courtesy of Vicki Brown)

One of the best ways to attempt to get close to these exceedingly rare creatures is to stay a few days at the Desert Rhino Camp. This beautifully appointed lodge is located in Palmwag Reserve (also known as the Palmwag Concession) and is one of the few places in the world that offer guided desert rhino tracking excursions.

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With a bit of luck you could spot some of these mighty creatures!
(image courtesy of the Namibian)

The camp is a mobile camp and can be moved all around the region so that it can stay close to the ever-migrating herds of desert adapted animals. As a result there is only space for 12 guests and you will need to book in advance in order to spend some time searching for the rhinos.

The camp not only takes tourists on tours of the rgion but also is an active participant in the promotion and conservation of the deser-adapted black rhino.

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A tracker recording a rare sighting of one of the rhinos.
(image courtesy of African Rhino)

How can you help?

The Save the Rhino trust is always looking for donors and you can pledge however much you want right here. Beyond just simple donations there are numerous ways in which you can get involved, so check out the trust’s relevant section the website by clicking on this link.

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Experience the magic of these curious and rare creatures!
(image courtesy of African Rhino)


More on this topic

Read about a desert rhino tracking adventure 

Download our adventure travel planning guide

Read about the Desert Adapted Elephants

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Celebrate World Lion Day by Helping the Lions of Namibia

  
  

Saturday the 10th of August 2013 is the first time that World Lion Day will be celebrated. To coincide with this landmark day the TOSCO trust has decided to offer a two night all inclusive safari adventure at Wilderness Safaris’ Damaraland Camp for one lucky couple. All you have to do to enter this competition is read the post below and then follow the links and the instructions and you could be chosen to experience two nights with a partner in the unforgettable Huab River Valley.

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Looking out over the pool at the Damaraland Camp
(image courtesy of Scott Dunn)

Why we need a World Lion Day

In the past 50 years lion numbers have plummeted by 80-90% leaving only about 25 000 lions today. Many argue that this rapid decline in lion population is more severe than that being suffered by the rhinos of Africa. The scattered and isolated prides of lions that now live all over Africa are massively at risk. Some alarming reports suggest that wild lions could become extinct in as little as 10 years. This would mean that the only lions left in the world would be those raised in captivity.

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Lioness stalking the Hoanib Floodplain
(image courtesy of the Desert Lion Project)

What is happenning to the lions of Africa?

The reasons for this mass slaughtering of lions is varied. The main problem faced by lions arise due to a conflict over resources with human beings. Lions are efficient predators and given the chance they will eat livestock. This makes them a target of local farmers who will then kill lions on-sight in an effort to prevent further livestock losses. Lions are also losing their habitats due to human encroachment, be it in the form of settlements or ever-growing farmlands. Add then to these two factors the fact that lion bones are used medicinally in parts of Asia and you have a massive problem that requires a lot of work to fix.

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Lion cubs in Botswana
(image courtesy of Reuben Goldberg via Timeslive.co.za)

The first step on the long road to saving the African lion is to address each problem facing these noble creatures. We all need to publicize that there is a massive problem facing lions right now. This is what TOSCO and others hope to achieve through initiatives like World Lion Day 2013.

World Lion Day and other lion conservation projects

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Image courtesy of Greg du Toit via Volunteer Africa

Awareness is only the tip of the iceberg. One of the major factors leading to the decline of lion populations in Africa is the conflict between the people of Africa and its lions. People need to be able to share in the profits of having lions on the continent if they are to be convinced to stop killing them. Profit sharing like this would enable local people to not just feel like lions are a threat to their ways of life but are able to rather be a valuable part of their lives.

One such project encouraging the co-existence of lions and humans is the Lion Guardians Project. This project has been extremely successful in encouraging a healthy respect and reverence for lions in Kenya. The basic aims of the project are to establish individuals in communities as lion guardians. These lion guardians are then tasked with keeping the lions away from the villages and farms. This protects the lions from the humans and the humans from the lions. The project has allowed communities to live more peacefully with their lion neighbors and it allows communities to enjoy the benefits of increased and sustainable tourism directly associated with wild lions.

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A Lion Guardian holds a lion’s paw
(image courtesy of Philip J. Briggs via Flickr)

TOSCO Trust, IRDNC and the Desert Lion Project are attempting to launch this program in Namibia. By supporting TOSCO you can directly contribute to the employment of lion guardians to protect these magnificent animals.

This is not the only project in Namibia geared toward conserving wild lions. Since there are currently around 500 – 800 wild lions in Namibia several conservation projects run at the same time. As a result many niche conservation projects are setup across Namibia one such project focusses on a very specific and uniquely adapted lion: The desert adapted lions of the Kunene region.

These desert lions are particularly at risk since they live such a precarious life and are much more likely to be harmed by human activity. Thus TOSCO has decided to partner with local communities, the IRDNC, and the Desert Lion Project to build special lion proof bomas for the local people's livestock. The idea for this project comes from yet another successful Kenyan initiative illustrated in this video by Richard Turere.

Video via TED.com

How you can help... and Win!

Without programs like the ones mentioned above the lion in Africa is doomed. You can help by raising awareness or by giving donations.

In order to encourage awareness about the plight of the lion in Africa TOSCO is giving away a 2-night stay at a luxury resort in Namibia. To enter this competition, simply follow these steps: 

  • Forward this competition to at least 5 friends

After this all you have to do is name 2 organisations that support lion conservation in Namibia.
The answer can be found on the World Lion Day website or on TOSCO Trust’s website. Send your answer by e-mail to info@tosco.org with the subject line “World Lion Day Competition”.

Entries must include your full name, e-mail address and a contact number. The competition closes on Saturday 10 August 2013. The prize will be awarded to one of the senders with the correct answer after the closing date. 

female dunes

A pair of lionesses patrolling the dunes
(image courtesy of Desert Lion Conservation)

REST- Protecting Namibia's Elusive Pangolins

  
  

The Rare and Endangered Species Trust is an organisation that operates in Central-Northern Namibia near the town of Otjiwarongo and the Okonkjima game reserve. REST was founded in 2000 by Maria Diekmann and has since gone from strength to strength. Originally Maria envisaged REST as playing a supporting role in the effort to conserve endangered species such as the Cape griffon vulture. As time went by, however, it became clear that REST would be better suited to playing a leading role in conservating severeal different endangered species from around Namibia.

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The entrance to REST.

The Forgotten 5

Presently REST is concerned with protecting the so-called “forgotten 5”. These endangered species represent a cross-section of the rich and fragile biodiversity of Namibia. These forgotten animals of Namibia are the African wild dog, the Damara dik-dik, the dwarf python, the Cape griffon vulture and the Cape pangolin.

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The African Wild Dog.
(photo courtesy of the NTB via Roderick MacLeod)

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The Damarra Dik-dik.
(Image courtesy of REST) 

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The African Python.
(Image courtesy of REST) 

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The Cape Griffon Vulture.
(Image courtesy of REST) 

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The Cape Pangolin.
(Image courtesy of REST) 

When we visited REST we were given a tour of the facilities and were shown the many species the trust helps to protect. Of particular interest to us was the the Cape pangolin. It is an illusive and little understood species of mammal that inhabits Namibia and is coming under increasing threat from poachers and black market pet dealers.

Problems facing Pangolins

Pangolin scales and pangolin meat are highly paid for commodities in several Southeast Asian countries. As a result of this the number of pangolins killed for either their scales or flesh is increasing every year. The pangolin is now the most frequently seized mammal in Asia's illegal wildlife trade. The majority of these pangolins are indigenous to Far-east and Southeast Asian countries but as the stocks dwindle in these regions poachers are beginning to look further afield.

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 One of the many pangolins found dead and en route to a black market destination.
(Image courtesy of Global Nation)

Little is understood of Namibia’s cape pangolins and as a result they are difficult to track and monitor. Their behavior and numbers are largely unknown and it is thus difficult to ascertain exactly how many are being taken out of Namibia. Once the pangolin flesh and scales have made their way to the far-east their value sky-rockets. However, within Namibia the value of a Cape pangolin can be as little as 20 US$.

Unfortunately there is a misconception in Namibian communities that a pangolin is a golden ticket to riches in-excess of tens of thousands of dollars. In reality though the punishments for selling pangolins are massive and the payout is very low. Whenever the conservationists at REST get wind of a local trying to sell a Cape pangolin on the black market they will try to intervene and prevent the sale and will usually take posession of the pangolin.

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A baby Cape pangolin in Maria's hand.
His mother was rescued from black market traders.

(Photo courtest of Maria Diekmann

How REST Helps

At the beginning of 2012 REST unexpectedly received a female Cape pangolin. The team at REST decided to release her into the wild but before they could do so she gave birth to a pangolin pup. The mother then made her way back into the bush leaving the pup behind. Motherless, this pup, affectionately called Baby Pang, now spends its time foraging around the surrounds of the REST grounds. It is currently being weaned off of human contact and is almost fully prepared for a re-entry into the wild.

So little is known of Cape pangolins and their habits that they need to be carefully monitored in unique situations like the one described above. One of the major successes at REST is their ability to care for pangolins. Usually, pangolins die when kept in captivity but at REST the gentle creatures flourish before being sent back into the wild. Baby Pang is one of two pangolins, world-wide, to survive after being born in captivity. Maria attributes this success to their methods. At REST the emphasis is always on limiting the stress an animal experiences thus increasing its chances of survival. The team at REST also makes every effort to keep these animals as close to their natural habitats as possible.

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During our visit we were allowed to walk with Baby Pang and watch how it forages
in its natural environment.

Zola the Pangolin

While visiting REST we were fortunate enough to observe the arrival of a new Cape pangolin that had been confiscated from black market pet dealers just outside a nearby town. This pangolin (now called Zola) was clearly distressed and disorientated in its new environment. As a result Devries (a game ranger on loan from the neighbouring Okonjima game reserve) and Maria wanted to get her back out into the wild as soon as possible.

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Maria wanted to limit her exposure to humans and thus increase her chances of re-intergrating back into the world of the Cape pangolins. Before this release could be effected a non-instrusive tracker needed to be attached to one of Zola’s scales and we were allowed to document this highly sensitive and rare procedure. 

Namibia, namibia africa, volunteer namibia, volunteer, volunteer work namibia, Pangolin, conservation, namibia tourism,  Devries and Maria tagging the newly arrived pangolin Zola.

It was touching to see the amount of genuine concern and care that was lavished upon this strange and beautiful creature. The radio transmitter was attached with a minimum of stress and Zola was taken inside Maria’s house to recuperate in preparation for her re-release into the wild. When we left REST the next day Zola was notably more relaxed and comfortable. It seemed a fitting end to an experience that was both hopeful and inspiring.

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 When we left Zola was hanging out on an old wine barrel enjoying some afternoon sun.

How You Can Get Involved

The easiest way to help is by giving donations to REST either through websites like Rockethub or through REST’s website itself. Another great way to help out is to volunteer to work at REST. The three volunteers we spent time with: Simon, Thomas and Anna had only compliments and heartfelt commendations when asked about the program.

REST also offers day tours around its facilities and depending on what time of the day you arrive and how long you are willing to stay you may get a chance to see these curious little creatures. Limited accomodation is also available and must be booked in advance. Contact the REST team by email with any enquiries you might have. 

In some parts of the world it may already be too late to save these gentle creatures but in Namibia we are uniquely positioned to lead the charge in the conservation and study of pangolins. The more we understand these animals the easier it will become to protect them from future dangers. 

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As we were leaving Baby Pang decided Maria's head looked like a good place to perch.

Safaris and Conservation in The Waterberg

  
  

The Waterberg is a vast and tremendously steep plateau in Central Namibia near the town of Otjiwarongo. The Waterberg plateau has stood fast and has silently watched as the land around it has been submerged in water, choked in massive sheets of ice and eroded over the millennia. The plateau is made of a much harder rock than all that surrounds it and as result it now rises 200 meters above the surrounding savannah. 

The plateau

The symbolism of the Waterberg Plateau is important to note. It has stood against time’s greatest tests and remains steadfast. It is fitting then that this plateau and the national park that sits atop it now stand steadfast in the battle for the conservation of some of Namibia’s most endangered species. 

namibia geology

The Waterberg Plateau seen from the savannah.

The plateau and 405km2 of the land around the plateau were declared a national park in 1972. The plateau’s steep cliffs make it an extremely difficult region to access so the government at the time decided to designate the plateau as a space for the preservation of endangered species. In this newly formed park it was felt that at-risk and endangered species could recuperate and eventually flourish safe from the threat of poachers and human encroachment.

 namibia savannah

A view of the surrounding savannah from the top of the plateau.

The government officials were right. In the Waterberg Plateau Park populations of black rhinoceros, Cape buffalo, and antelope such as tsessebe, sable and roan are all on the increase. These species are being brought back from the brink of extinction thanks to the geological features of the plateau and the never failing hard work and dedication of the park officials.

Rhino conservation

Black rhinos are some of the most endangered animals in Namibia and the world and their proliferation in the Waterberg is one of the major conservation success stories in recent times. There are only about 3,610 Black Rhino still left in the wild and thanks to programs such as those run in the Waterberg Plateau Park Namibia has 1,750 of them. The Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism does regular censuses in the Waterberg but keeps the numbers confidential to deflect any potential interest from high-level and well-organized poachers.

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Black rhino taking a dip in the Waterberg.
(Image courtesy of Africa and Beyond

You may not drive, but you can walk

Access to the Waterberg is strictly controlled and is only possible through a series of checkpoints. As a result one cannot simply hop in one’s car and drive around the Waterberg Plateau Park. If you want to drive through the park you will need to book a place on one of the twice daily safaris the park offers (see below).

The Waterbeg Plateau Park is however accessible in ways other national parks are not. A visitor to the park can choose from any of the many walking trails found all over the park. These trails crisscross the plateau and extend from its base to its summit. A map of the trails can be found at the NWR reception near the entrance of the park.

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Map of the park's many walking trails.
(Image courtesy of African Reservations)

The big advantage of being able to walk through the park is that you are able to experience the wildlife in a way that is totally different from other national parks in Namibia. By foot not only do you get to get up close to some of the animals that live in this park but you also get to experience the varied and beautiful flora of the park.

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Our guide Makondjo had an expert knowledge of the local flora.

Weeping WattlesKalahari Christmas Trees and the protected Leadwood Tree, can all be found in the park, growing alongside the trails and even on the face of the plateau.

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Much of the plateau's face is dotted with trees like this one.

There is even a chance that on one of these walks you will come across some of the mammals that have taken up residence in the park. Kudu, cheetahs, leopards and water buffalo are just four of the 26 species of large mammals that can all be found in the park. If you are attentive (and quiet!) you may spot and/or hear some of these animals as you traverse the park on foot. Keep a look out for tracks in the sand as you make your way along the trails and you may get lucky.

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This dik-dik was kind enough to pose for us as we made
our way along the Mountain View trail.

The bird life of the Waterberg is nothing short of astounding. With over 200 species of birds it is a birdwatchers dream. Numerous raptors such as peregrine falcons and tawny eagles are found in the park and chances are high that you will see one up close. Various vultures, including the critically endangered Cape vulture nest within the park's boundaries. According to our guide Makondjo the best walk for avid bird-watchers is the Fig Tree walk.

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Follow these signs for the Fig Tree walking trail.

All the walking trails are all clearly marked by route markers and none of the trails require you to be an expert hiker. Being in good physical condition is advisable but many patrons of the park, young and old, can navigate most of the trails with ease. If at any point you feel the going is getting too tough then simply turn around and head back the way you came. 

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When on any of the trails up the plateau just follow these painted feet.

For those who are more adventurous (and are in better shape) than most check out some of the longer multi-day hikes that the reserve has to offer.

 

9 GETTING TO THE TOP IS EASY

Getting to the top of the plateau is easy, leaving the views behind is not

Safari drives

If walking and hiking is not really your thing then fear not! You can take a guided safari drive led by the resident game rangers. There is both a morning and a late afternoon drive. All you have to do is let the NWR reception know that you wish to book a place on one of these drives.

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Giraffe seen from the road whilst on the late afternoon safari drive

The drives include a visit to some of the park’s seven watering holes. These watering holes are specifically designed to be non-intrusive areas from which to watch animals in their natural environment.

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Looking out of a watering hole hide deep in the park-
patience and silence are needed if you want to capture some of the rarer game

The Waterberg's multifaceted history 

The Waterberg’s attractions are not limited to its flora and fauna. There are both anthropological and archaeological sites of interest as well. The Waterberg was the site of a major battle during the Herero uprising against the German colonial forces. There is a graveyard near the entrance to the park which commemorates soldiers lost on both sides of the conflict. The exact location of the park is on the map you can pick up from reception. 

A little harder to find are the dinosaur footprints found in the surrounding area. You will need a guide in order to find these and enquiries in this regard can be made at the NWR reception.

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Dinosaur footprint
(Image courtesy of Richard Desomme via Panoramia) 

You can stay at the NWR lodge or the private Waterberg Wilderness lodge both these lodges have the advantage of being located in the national park. The NWR lodge also has a rich history closely associated with the early German settlement in the area and is definitely worth checking out. Many of the buildings found in the park are from the early 1900's. Besides these two options there are many other options that will put you within striking distance of the park as well.

 NWR lodge, accomodation namibia

The Waterberg Plateau Park's NWR run dining hall is a former police station that has been
reconditioned and aesthetically preserved

Why you should visit the Waterberg

The Waterberg’s unique blend of flora and fauna, and its sociological, anthropological and archaeological points of interest make it a must visit for anyone touring around Namibia. It is a bastion of conservation and relaxation. It is also a hideaway from the crowds of the bigger and more over-visited safari spots in Namibia. This park is suited for the traveller who is looking for something a little out of the ordinary on their journeys around Namibia.

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A massive tree that has grown into the rock and formed a natural slide

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