The Wild Horses of the Namib

Dawn crept in across the desert plain catching the gossamer dust clouds in a golden light.  The spellbinding scene cast a sense of elation as the wild horses drew closer.   We were at the Garub viewing terrace following their trail in anxious anticipation as they neared the borehole water site.  We’d heard that they were in reasonable shape after low rainfall had resuscitated the grass and foraging opportunities had improved.  Small family groups kept together, and we could make out the figures of two small foals.   Lone stallions came from different directions keeping a distance from the small herds.

They are recognised as a separate breed, the “Namibs” after 100 or so years of their blood lines merging through natural selection across the generations.   Elegant and long-limbed, they’re handsome creatures.  Living free on the plains of the eastern edge of the Namib-Nauklauft desert, has it’s challenges.  Their story of survival in this unforgiving environment is one that evokes awe, but are the odds stacked against them as their numbers dwindle and predation by the spotted hyaena is a continued threat?

To be continued …..

 

Earth Day: For Whom the Bell Tolls?

 

Today we’re marking the 49th Earth Day after it’s inception in 1970.  Celebrations?!  It should be a wake up call, an urgent clarion call to action right round the globe!  Let us not kid ourselves the environment is in a deteriorating state and we’re killing Earth’s creatures.

Scenes are pictured at the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve where beaches are littered with plastic and storm strewn fishing gear from nets to piles of rope, fish traps.  Recent whale carcasses washed up near Buffels Bay and another on the Atlantic side near the Tommy T Tucker shipwreck.

Walking with vervet monkeys

Here’s the scene: In lush contrast to the desert regions of Namibia, the Zambezi Region (Caprivi) is a tropical wetlands area.  Namushasha River Lodge is set on the banks of the Kwando river on the curve of an oxbow lake, where pods of hippos wallow in muddy grandeur.   It’s rich riverine ecology extends beyond the dense stands of Jackalberry and Mangosteen trees over extensive reedbeds to the distant game-spattered floodplains.

It’s bounded on all side by wild game parks and it’s up there in the rank of ‘coolness’ not just for its shady campsites but for it’s splendid setting and gorgeous lodge facilities, swimming pool and watering hole.

A popular wallowing spot for hippos.

A walk along the path at the edge of the river revealed an unexpected encounter (there are warning signs to watch out for crocodiles and hippos, though fortunately avoided).   The sound of leaves rustling gave them away……

Little faces peeked down at me as a gathering of vervet monkeys (Cercopithecus pygerythrus) came to assess this other primate intruder: friend or foe?  The alpha male bared his teeth, signalling his status.   Averting eye contact, i sat quietly wondering what would happen next.

Their curiosity won out and soon they had descended from their leafy domain to forage in the leaf litter below.  Keeping a discreet distance my presence appeared not to bother them and i was able to keenly observe their long limbed grace and agility.  Predominantly they’re found in savannah woodland, but here they’ve settled in this paradise alongside the fruit trees and breakfast options at the lodge.

 

 

 

Back Again!

Dear Readers,

I’ve been away for some months and am now happily back online and looking forward to checking in again on fellow bloggers.

A chance to revisit Namibia at a slow pace, traveling the back routes, camping mainly and stopping at destinations way off the beaten track has been a compelling experience for me.  Becoming so immersed in nature – learning the scent of the land, it’s voices, the revelation of the night skies, the heart thumping exhilaration of hearing nocturnal wildlife close by adds up to a “stop-the-world-i-want-to-get off” kind of destination.

Here’s a dip into the first scenes of this immense and timeless place –

The rugged grandeur of the Ais/Richtersveld-Namib Transfrontier Park near Rosh Pinar.

Namibia is an extraordinary country, the expanse of it’s panoramic vistas stretch way into the far distance, seductive in pastel colours, so tantalising as the horizons pleat and fold.

The Namib gravel plains stretch towards the desert.
Wild Namib horses have adapted and live in the harsh desert conditions.
The orange sands of ancient sand dunes shift and shape through the wind, forming long geometric ridge lines.
Statuesque quiver trees (Aloe dichotoma) grow in a barren land inspiring awe at their sculpted defiance.   Reputedly some are as old as 800 years, but now climate change is a factor in their survival.

As we traveled through different biomes:  desert, savannah, tree and shrublands, to the wetlands of the Zambezi area the contrasts in ecosystems and habitats were distinct.  Hope you’ll join me as a post further stories; coming up soon …..

Walking with Vervets

Graceful long-limbed vervets accompany me on a walk next to the Kongola R, Namushasha Lodge.

Standing Sentry Duty: Who goes there?

Sentry duty, scanning the horizon.

Meet the Enchanting Miss Dik-dik.

Doe-eyed Dik-dik the smallest of the antelope species, roam the campsite.

The Enigmatic Wild Horses, Can they Survive?

For 100 years the desert horses have survived the harsh conditions. But drought and predation by the spotted hyaena are taking a drastic toll on their numbers.

 

The pollinator

Feasting on pincushion blooms (Leucospermum conocarpodendron), a young juvenile baboon, while handling the flowers gets covered in pollen.  As he scrambles across the bush he’ll provide a useful service of cross pollination by brushing against the pollen and spreading it to different flowers.   There he is fulfilling an ecological role as a part of a functioning ecosystem.

High in a Tree pincushion (Leucospermum conocarpodendrum, a young juvenile baboon chews on pincushion flowers.
Baboons are drawn to the Tree pincushion – Leucospermum conocarpodendron, Kreupelhout for the sweet nectar.