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RHINO CONSERVATION | THE MAGICAL NAMIB | WATERHOLE THEATRICS
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TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA INITIATIVES HELP SAVE NAMIBIA'S RHINOS
As part of the RMB Namibia Ride for Rhinos initiative, Venture Media, through Travel News Namibia, is involved in several projects to help spread the word and tell Save the Rhino Trust Namibia's story. You can help support the cause in many ways. Buy a RMB Ride for Rhinos t-shirt, donate N$ 20 or more to receive Namibian recording artist Elemotho's newly released single, Save the Rhino, or just make a financial contribution. All these purchases and donations can be made on www.givetoday.com.na. Visit www.rideforrhinos.com.na for more information.
NOW YOU CAN GO BIRDING WITH POMPIE Based in Windhoek, Pompie Burger is an orthopaedic surgeon whose pastime passion is photography, in particular birding. Pompie has been a regular contributor to Travel News Namibia for over a decade. His current series in TNN, Birding with Pompie, has inspired a new initiative. In February next year, eight birding enthusiasts will join him on a 10-day trip from Windhoek to Katima Mulilo. The tour will navigate past all Pompie's favorite Zambezi birding hotspots and guests will be able to sharpen their birding photography skills with this experienced guide and teacher at the helm. Venture Media will team up with tourism partner, Wilderness Expeditions, a part of Wilderness Safaris Namibia, on this latest adventure. Keep an eye on www.travelnewsnamibia.com and our social media platforms for more information on the tour.
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Travel News Namibia, as well as all Venture Media's other publications, is available online at www.issuu.com/travelnewsnamibia. You can read each magazine and follow all our publications from anywhere in the world! With a readership based across the globe, we have been able to promote Namibia and all its wonders far and wide. Thank you to all our international readers! From the USA to Russia, Uganda to Japan, Argentina to Australia! We promise to keep you entertained and inspired for your next trip to Namibia.
Travel News Namibia has been at the forefront of Namibian tourism promotion for over 23 years, celebrating all things Namibian in print and online. In 2015 Venture Publications launched â€œA Travel News Namibia Initiativeâ€?, a project that will strive to promote Namibia across different platforms beyond the boundaries of print and publishing. Follow us on our journey as we celebrate the beauty of Namibia, its conservation successes and new exciting adventures to come with our emerging Travel News Namibia initiatives!
TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA SUMMER 2016/17
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is published by Venture Media in Windhoek, Namibia www.travelnewsnamibia.com Tel: +264 61 420 500, 4 Herzinger Crescent, Klein Windhoek PO Box 21593, Windhoek, Namibia MANAGING EDITOR Rièth van Schalkwyk PRODUCTION MANAGER Elzanne Erasmus email@example.com PUBLIC RELATIONS Janine van der Merwe firstname.lastname@example.org LAYOUT & DESIGN Venture Media CUSTOMER SERVICE Bonn Nortjé email@example.com ONLINE EDITOR Sanet van Zijl firstname.lastname@example.org
TEXT CONTRIBUTORS Ron Swilling, Elzanne Erasmus, Sanet van Zijl, Helge Denker, Pompie Burger, Christie Keulder, Nirvani Pillay, Oliver Halsey PHOTOGRAPHERS Elzanne Erasmus, Ron Swilling, Paul van Schalkwyk, Christie Keulder, Pompie Burger, Helge Denker, Xenia Ivanoff-Erb, Coenie Snyman, Jaco Venter, Chris Botha, Oliver Halsey PRINTERS John Meinert Printing, Windhoek Travel News Namibia is published quarterly, distributed worldwide and produced solely on Apple Macintosh equipment. The editorial content of TNN is contributed by freelance writers and journalists. It is the sole property of the publisher and no part of the magazine may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher.
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DREAMING OF A NAMIBIAN CHRISTMAS Over the festive season, people in the Northern Hemisphere eat a hot roast lunch, build snowmen, and make hot chocolate, while down here in Namibia, we celebrate with braais in the hot sun, sand angels in the desert and ice-cold, World-Class Windhoek Lagers.
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VOLUME 25 No 1 | SUMMER 2016/17
TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA is a high-quality glossy Namibia travel and lifestyle magazine tasked with promoting Namibia to the world. Travel News Namibia is published quarterly in English and annually in German. The NAMIBIA HOLIDAY & TRAVEL is an annual tourism directory with over 200 pages of updated information on the country, regions, people, activities and wildlife.
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RHINO CONSERVATION | THE MAGICAL NAMIB | WATERHOLE THEATRICS
CONSERVATION AND THE ENVIRONMENT IN NAMIBIA, an annual special edition of Travel News Namibia, is published in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.
WWW. TRAVELNEWSNAMIBIA.COM TNN online is home to more than 20 years worth of content. We’ve been online since 1995, keeping readers across the world up-to-date with what’s happening in Namibia! Visit us today for the most amazing photos, enticing stories and comprehensive information on all things Namibia!
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WISHING YOU A PEACEFUL AND PROSPEROUS
SUMMER IN NAMIBIA A
s we prepared this edition of Travel News Namibia for print, the news broke that 18 rhino horns were found in the suitcase of a Chinese man travelling from Windhoek to Hong Kong. The discovery was made at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. On the same day, our Ministry of Environment and Tourism announced that another six rhino carcasses were found in the Etosha National Park. Killed by poachers, horns hacked out.
Since 1993 we have been sharing the good news about Namibia, its people, its aweinspiring landscapes, its unspoilt wilderness areas and its abundant wildlife. We have always had many positive things to write about our newly independent country. We had a peaceful transition to independence and our economy was stable and growing, our tourism sector was already well-established in certain source markets, which meant we had a solid basis from which to continue marketing a very unique tourism product. For the most part, we felt that we were in control of our destiny. And the whole world wanted to help us succeed. There are certain situations we have no control over, such as the current drought. Every now and then an unexpected event such as the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa or the outbreak of a war somewhere else on the continent would cause tourism to plummet. But we buckle up and get through it. We even survived the global economic disaster of a few years ago. But the fight against the poaching of the last remaining free-roaming rhino on earth is one battle a country like Namibia cannot win on its own. We inspire and educate our rural communities. We investigate and prosecute. We donate time and money. And we know that this is not a problem that originates in our country. The education needs to take place in countries where there is a demand for rhino horn. The poor people who do the killing and the smuggling are not the source of the problem. They have little value for the international syndicates. The only real solution to the problem is that the governments in countries where there is a demand demonstrate the political will to take action. In the meantime we as Namibians do the best we can in any way we can to stop the senseless killing. Read about our Travel News Namibia initiative, the RMB Ride for Rhinos, in this edition. If you would like to be part of the global ’ride’, get in touch and download the song by the famous Namibian singer Elemotho. The Summer edition inevitably revolves around the coast. When the pressure of end-of-year deadlines starts, Namibians inevitably begin imagining the foggy coast, endless beaches and fresh kabeljou. Enjoy Ron's suggestions for a three-day break in Swakopmund, Xenia’s photo feature on the coastal town, and the first of a series of interesting articles from Gobabeb, the research jewel of the Namib. Don't miss the story of a five-day driving trip along the coast, through the dunes between Lüderitz and Walvis Bay, with no connection to the rest of the world. No roads, no phones, no human beings and little evidence of their recent presence. From our new office in Windhoek, Venture Media wishes our readers all over the world, peace, freedom and prosperity for 2017.
Rièth van Schalkwyk
TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA SUMMER 2016/17
SUMMER 2016/17 10 WHATâ€™S NEW(S)? Happenings in the industry 16 SCORPIONS of the Namib Desert 24 CONNECT YOUR TRIP with Zimbabwe 28 BIRDING Endangered bird species in Namibia 36 A PASSIONATE ADVENTURE to save Namibia's rhinos
44 CONSERVANCY SIDE-TRACKS through the Doros geological mosaic
48 THREE DAYS IN SWAKOPMUND Explore this coastal town 56 BACK TO THE FUTURE The Ovahimba Living Museum
56 60 PHOTOGRAPHY FEATURE Swakopmund through a different lens with Xenia Ivanoff-Erb
68 THE THEATRE OF A WATERHOLE Discover Namibia with NWR 72 MAGIC IN THE NAMIB Adventure with CYMOT 77 FOODIES Five hundred years of purity
QATAR AIRWAYS’ FIRST FLIGHT TOUCHES DOWN IN WINDHOEK Qatar Airways now flies four times a week from its hub in Doha to Windhoek, the gateway to Namibia’s spectacular landscapes and desert. On 28 September 2016 the capital of Namibia, Windhoek, welcomed the first Qatar Airways flight to arrive at its international airport from Doha, Qatar. A VIP delegation from Doha, including Qatar Airways Chief Commercial Officer, Dr Hugh Dunleavy and Namibia’s Ambassador to Qatar, His Excellency Mr Japhet Isaack, was greeted at the aircraft by Mr Digu //Naobeb, Chief Executive Officer, Namibia Tourism Board and Qatar’s Ambassador
to South Africa, His Excellency Mr Salem Abdullah Sultan Al Jaber. Windhoek is the first city in Namibia to be served by Qatar Airways, which will fly to and from the destination four times a week with a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The new route will connect passengers flying from Namibia to more than 150 global destinations via Qatar Airways’ state-ofthe-art hub and home, Hamad International Airport in Doha. Windhoek will be the 23rd destination in Africa served by the award-winning airline.
WHAT’S NEW(S)? Compiled by Sanet van Zijl
CYMOT ULTIMATE ADVENTURE COMPETITION WINNER ANNOUNCED From March to August this year Travel News Namibia ran a competition in partnership with CYMOT under the title of the Ultimate Adventure Competition. People were urged to send us their most thrilling Namibian adventure story and we certainly did receive our share of interesting tales. Once the competition ended a panel of our regular writers assessed each story and chose the one they thought worthy of the grand prize. Our lucky winner was Karin Malherbe, who wrote a story on her and her husband’s whopping 2070 km cycle from Grahamtown in the Eastern Cape all the way to Windhoek. Karin walked away with a generous prize from CYMOT – a gift card worth N$10 000! To read her story visit our website at www.travelnewsnamibia.com and search for ’CYMOT ultimate adventure competition – a 2070 km cycle to Windhoek’.
Axel Theissen, the CEO of CYMOT, hands over the N$ 10 000 prize gift card to competition winner, Karin Malherbe.
Keep your eyes on our Facebook page (Travel News Namibia) for regular, exciting competitions like this one.
FIVE ECO FLOWERS for Wild Dog Safaris
Eco Awards Namibia is an alliance of the government, private sector, tertiary training institutions and NGOs that assess and certify tourism venues and tour operators according to the international standards of environmental sustainability. They are the only certification programme for sustainable tourism in Namibia, encouraging and facilitating an environmentally vigilant conscience in the tourism industry. Wild Dog Safaris is the fourth Namibian Tour Operator to be assessed by Eco Awards Namibia. They achieved an astounding total of five eco flowers with an incredible average score of 95%! One of the ways Wild Dog promotes sustainable business practices is through recycling their laundry water to wash tour buses. “Well done to Liz Kirby and Louise Ellison who inspired their entire team at Wild Dog to work together to secure this achievement,” said Hazel Milne, Programme Coordinator at Eco Awards Namibia. In attendance to help Wild Dog Safaris celebrate their success were Christo Viljoen (FNB Tourism) and Denitza Petrova (TASA) whose support over the years has helped Eco Awards grow from strength to strength. Jason Nengola (previously a UNAM intern to the Eco Awards Programme) played a great role in the physical assessment of Wild Dog Safaris while Hazel coordinated the entire assessment and review process. Well done Wild Dog Safaris!
WINDHOEK JAZZ FESTIVAL EXCITES YET AGAIN!
To the delight of Namibian jazz lovers, Namibian Breweries Limited made yet another exhilarating Windhoek Jazz Festival possible. This is one of the finest annual music events to grace the capital city. With uplifting performances by Namibia and Africa’s biggest acts in this genre, there was no way that jazz lovers could miss this event. Local talents included the best live performer Big Ben who had the entire audience on their feet as he performed four of his time-honoured tracks, as well as Fu Jazz Band, Chikune, Swingers Jazz Band and the charming Suzy Eises. The elegance of Suzy and the energetic Big Ben stole Namibian
hearts. International guests were the joyous duo Caiphus Semenya and Letta Mbulu with their powerful performances and great message, Roman and Julian Wasser from Germany, Elisa Rodrigues from Portugal and the smooth sounds of Nkosinathi Mankayi (best known as Nathi) who concluded the evening. Nathi was the highlight of the entire festival as he performed his triple-platinum debut studio album Buyelekhaya. Nathi had the audience singing along to every word of his hit track Nomvula. The event was well executed with positive attitudes from both the performers and the audience.
KLM ROYAL DUTCH AIRLINES now include flights to Namibia KLM Royal Dutch Airlines have expanded heir services to include scheduled flights to Windhoek, Namibia. Three existing flights to Luanda, Angola have been adapted making it possible to fly to Windhoek and back after a short stopover. The flights will be operated using a 243-seat Airbus 330-200. Flight KL0575 will depart from Amsterdam to Luanda on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays at 22:45 and arrive in Angola at 7:30 (local time) the next morning. The flight will continue to Windhoek at 8:45 and arrive in Namibia at 12:15 (local time). The return flight KL0576 will be departing on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Mondays from Windhoek at 17:40 (local time), arriving in Luanda at 19:15 (local time). From there the flight will depart to Amsterdam at 20:40 and arrive at the destination at 5:20 the next day. KLM offers 55 flights to destinations in Africa per week. Windhoek is the 12th destination in Africa that KLM offers flights to.
HAN HONOURS STAR PERFORMERS IN THE TOURISM INDUSTRY Tourism is everyone’s business, and Namibia’s tourism family once again demonstrated commitment, passion and teamwork aimed at advancing Namibia as destination of choice globally. As has become tradition, HAN hosts an annual tourism awards gala to honour and celebrate the top performers in the industry, and these include various categories within the HAN family, the wider tourism fraternity such as the annual Eco Awards, the HAN Joint Venture/Conservancy Lodge of the Year award, the HAN Awards of Excellence in the various categories, as well as Hotelier of the Year, HAN Personality of the Year and Tourism Personality of the Year.
WE WOULD LIKE TO CONGRATULATE OUR PARTNERS ON THEIR AWARDS: HAN Awards of Excellence: In the category ’Lodges, tented lodges and tented camps’: Midgard Country Estate – Bronze Eningu Clayhouse Lodge – Gold Wilderness Safaris Group – Gold In the category ’Hotels’: Bahnhof Hotel Aus – Merit Award AVANI Hotel & Casino – Silver Lüderitz Nest Hotel – Silver Hotelier of the year 2016: Marc Pampe, The Mushara Lodge Collection
Eco Awards Three Flowers: Hakos Guest Farm Onkoshi Camp (Namibia Wildlife Resorts) Eco Awards Four Flowers: Dolomite Camp & Popa Falls Resort (Namibia Wildlife Resorts) Little Ongava Lodge, Ongava Andersson’s Camp & Ongava Lodge Eco Awards Five Flowers: Hobatere Lodge (also awarded HAN Joint Venture/Conservancy Lodge of the Year 2016) Ongava Tented Camp Sossusvlei Lodge, Sossus Oasis Campsite & Desert Camp (Taleni)
A NIGHT OF FUND-RAISING UNDER THE STARS At the HAN Awards gala it was mentioned that the Namibia Chefs' Association (NCA) was hosting fundraising buffets and dinners in the coming weeks, as not all travel expenses for the Namibian team had been covered for an upcoming event in Abu Dhabi. This sparked an almost immediate and exciting call for commitment, spearheaded by a massive N$120 000 sponsorship from Gocheganas Nature Reserve and owner, Mr Udo Stritter, followed by eight other major financial commitments from lodges, hotels and companies. The evening ended with a total of N$214 000 in committed sponsorship raised for the NCA. And if that were not enough, the tourism family continued their willingness to share, partner and support one another, following the announcement of HAN’s chosen Tourism Personality of the Year. This year, HAN’s choice fell on a Namibian musician, who over the past four years rendered his talent and passion to help tell the Namibian story through song. Elemotho did this with his ’Namibia, wide open spaces’ song as the anthem for the Adventure Travel World Summit in 2013. His commitment to tourism and Namibia was once again demonstrated this year, when on a call from the Save the Rhino Trust for Namibians to unite their voices against poaching and for the protection of our rhino, he came forward to offer his services and contribution by composing a song calling on all “to stand together, to avoid us losing our rhino forever”.
total being committed by six different establishments and companies towards SRT’s video production of the Save the Rhino song.
Thanks to the generous donations received on the evening of the HAN Gala, this group of young Namibian chefs will be travelling to an international cooking competition in Abu Dhabi on the 1st of December.
This song is currently downloadable through a donation to Save the Rhino Trust (SRT) on www.givetoday.com.na. SRT is aiming to have a professional music video created to help share the message and sounds across the globe. As funds are necessary for such a production, SRT trustees Ginger Mauney and Amos Shiyuka made a call to guests at the HAN Gala, in honour of the Tourism Personality, to help raise funds for the production. This resulted in another opening of hearts and purses, with N$40 000 in Gitta Paetzold (left) and Janet Wilson-Moore (second from right) of HAN, present the HAN Tourism Personality of the Year award to Elemotho (centre). With them are SRT board members Amos Shiyuka (second from left) and Ginger Mauney (right).
All Roads Lead to
Nambwa Tented Lodge is located in the Eastern Zambezi Region of Namibia along the Kwando River. It is the only lodge uniquely situated inside the Bwatwata National Park, in the heart of the KAZA and is nestled high amongst majestic trees, honouring the elephants’ right of way below. An authentic walkway joins decadently spacious tented suites, which emanate a feeling of vastness and evoke a gentle balance of serenity. Nambwa can be ideally packaged with Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia., with daily flights from Johannesburg & Cape Town to Vic Falls (Zimbabawe), Livingstone (Zambia), Kasane (Botswana) and 4 Flights a week from Windhoek to Katima. Air Charters or Road transfers are available from all airports. Vic Falls/Livingstone to Nambwa – 4 to 5 hours. Kasane to Nambwa – 3 to 3.5 hours. Katima to Nambwa – 1.5 hours.
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OF THE NAMIB DESERT
Text and photographs Oliver Halsey
A Hadogenes species. This specimen was collected from Gobabeb in the central Namib. Already deceased when discovered, it was drying out in the harsh desert sun.
The often-misunderstood scorpion is an incredible creature of ancient origins. The Namib Desert, being an ancient landscape, is interesting due to the fact that its biodiversity has had millennia to evolve and adapt to its harsh and unforgiving conditions. Scorpions are relatively under-researched creatures, yet their importance is significant. Scorpions play a vital role in arid ecosystems and have significant medical importance to humans. The study of their physiology is fascinating: little energy is wasted when they eat, an important adaptation for life in an arid environment. This adaptation is key to their survival in some of the worldâ€™s harshest conditions, and yet this, and so much more, is still not fully understood about one of Earthâ€™s oldest, most intriguing and misunderstood organisms. Scorpions are truly remarkable creatures, and much surrounding their shrouded but extraordinary lives is still begging to be discovered.
Often pitch-black, Parabuthus villosus is the largest member of the family in the world as well as one of the most venomous in the Namib.
THE EVOLUTION OF SCORPIONS The family history of modern scorpions is in itself fascinating. A far cry from their current abundance in arid environments, scorpions’ predecessors had a watery existence. Scorpions are ancient creatures that evolved from eurypterids (commonly called sea scorpions), an extinct group of arthropods that are related to arachnids. Eurypterids grew anywhere from 20 cm to 2.5 m in length. These sinister-sounding creatures were marine arthropods that roamed Earth’s oceans and waters between the Middle Ordovician and Late Permian geologic periods: 470-252 Ma. When examining the now extinct eurypterids’ body structure, a clear resemblance to the modern scorpion exoskeleton is visible. The elongated tail of eurypterids bears a resemblance to that of horseshoe crabs, Limulus polyphemus – marine arthropods that primarily live in and around shallow ocean waters. The horseshoe crab has occupied Earth’s waters since the Ordovician, the geological period in which the earliest eurypterid fossils have been discovered. One of the oldest living organisms still alive on Earth today and true living fossils, horseshoe crabs have been swimming around our planet for about 450 million years, 200 million years before the dinosaurs even began to emerge. Horseshoe crabs have stood the test of time, surviving through many geological changes. Only now are numbers starting to dwindle due to overharvesting and coastal habitat destruction. Eurypterids have traditionally been regarded as close relatives of horseshoe crabs, together forming a group called Merostomata, although subsequent studies have since placed eurypterids closer to the arachnids in a group called Metastomata.There has also been a prevailing idea that eurypterids are closely related to scorpions, which they resemble. The evolution of ancient marine arthropods into the terrestrial scorpions that we see today is evidence that scorpions are descendants of extremely adaptable creatures capable of not only surviving, but thriving in their multitudes through many of the Earth’s geological periods. The scorpions’ adaptability through hundreds of millions of years of climatic and environmental change is not to be understated; over those countless years, conditions have swung from that of high humidity to relentless aridity, even dipping into glacial periods.
The adaptability of scorpions, of which there are over 2 000 species throughout the world today in every continent, save Antarctica, is a testament to their ancestors’ robustness – surviving and evolving over hundreds of millions of years – through varied and often harsh conditions. Many of today’s terrestrial scorpions can survive extreme temperatures, from below freezing to above 50 °C. One environment in which scorpions can be subjected to such dramatic temperature variability is the Namib Desert. The Namib is an ancient, coastal-fog desert located on the western coast of Namibia where seasonal and night-time/daytime temperature variability can be extreme. The origin of the name Namib derives from the native Nama language, and means ’vast place’. The Namib Desert proves itself worthy of its name with its endless gravel plains and flowing Sand Sea, stretching across such a ’vast place’. The Namib Desert is home to a rich diversity of life including nine scorpion species. In southern Africa alone, 140 species of scorpions have been identified. Buthidae and Scorpionidae are the two families of scorpions present in the Namib. Although only two families of scorpions have evolved to live in the Namib, they have managed to find an array of suitable habitats. Buthidae contain the highly venomous fat-tailed scorpions and tree bark scorpions, while Scorpionidae contain primarily burrowing scorpions. Certain Buthidae and Scorpionidae are restricted to sand systems such as the Namib, the Kalahari, and the Sandveld, as well as the isolated sand systems of southern Namibia and the Northern Cape Province (South Africa), and the sandy areas of the Limpopo Depression. Scorpions of the Namib Desert have found a variety of suitable habitats for themselves, most often under rocks or in crevices where they shelter during the day to avoid predators and the unmerciful conditions of the desert. Many species of scorpions in the Namib create their own home by digging a burrow in soft sandy soil or fine gravel. The bark of the camel thorn tree, Vachellia erioloba, provides shade and shelter to many of the Uroplectes species of scorpions. The roots of camel thorn trees are capable of extending up to 60 metres underground to extract the necessary moisture for growth, and can therefore be found in large quantities along the banks of ephemeral rivers.
WHY DO THEY GLOW? With an abundance of camel thorn trees along ephemeral rivers in the central Namib, one of the more easily spotted scorpions is the common tree bark scorpion, Uroplectes otjimbinguensis. Numerous tree bark scorpions can be found after sunset. The small, nocturnal creatures can be located in the dark in the same way as every other scorpion – by using ultraviolet (UV) light. Chemicals in the exoskeleton cause scorpions to fluoresce when subjected to UV light. Despite several theories, there is no conclusive evidence as to the purpose of their fluorescing. Perhaps it is a way to attract prey – scorpions emerge at night, and UV light reflecting off from the moon and the dim light from stars could illuminate scorpions and attract insects to
TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA SUMMER 2016/17
Searching for fluorescing scorpions with UV light in the Kuiseb River. Many scorpions can be found hiding within the peeling bark of camel thorn trees.
A spiralling burrow of a scorpion is unearthed from the sandy soils of the Namib. Martin Handjaba and Dr Eugene Marais pour liquefied zinc into a burrow to create a negative cast.
Martin Handjaba prepares to create a negative burrow casting by heating zinc to its melting point of 419.5 Â°C.
Parabuthus villosus is a very hairy species with a thick tail
Scorpions have evolved to become the top predators of some extremely arid environments. Looking into the chelicerae (mouthpart).
Researchers at Gobabeb extract an unoccupied scorpion burrow from the sand. The burrow structure had hardened due to the drying of resin.
A tree bark scorpion, Uroplectes otjimbinguensis can be seen fluorescing when exposed to ultraviolet light. them, much in the same way that insects are attracted to other artificial light sources. Many insects, such as bees, can see a broad spectrum of light including ultraviolet, which is invisible to humans. When viewed with specialist equipment that can see within the UV spectrum, some flowers exhibit intricately designed patterns and exquisite colours invisible to the naked human eye. This is to attract pollinators, and the fluorescing of scorpions could be relatable – a possible way to attract prey. However, studies have shown that many species emerge less frequently in bright moonlight, when they are exposed to more UV light than on dark nights, casting doubt on this theory. A test of this hypothesis also suggests that insects actually avoid fluorescing scorpions. Another theory as to why scorpions fluoresce is to avoid predation. A scorpion’s lateral eyes are very light sensitive and can distinguish light from dark effectively. Their eyes have excellent low-light sensitivity, putatively so that they are able to detect starlight against the background of the night sky; this is well suited to their typically nocturnal behaviour. Its low-light sensitivity generally makes the scorpion confident in its nocturnal practices. If scorpions can sense the fluorescing of each other, it is perhaps a useful mechanism to alert the creatures that they are exposed to – visible and potentially vulnerable to predation, especially because the diets of many scorpions consist of other scorpions. That said, diurnal (daytime) activity is common in several species of scorpions throughout the world, (notably the Parabuthus villosus in the Namib) making the need for a nocturnal fluorescing defence appear unnecessary. Other theories suggest that the fluorescing of scorpions when exposed to UV light could be a vestigial trait (a mechanism that has become functionless over the course of evolution) or an aposematic signal (markings or colouration to serve as a warning to predators). The truth remains unknown despite several disparate theories providing tangible evidence. The data gathered from various experiments and observations is still insufficient to definitively illuminate the truth surrounding this topic.
Scorpions, just like all other animals with an exoskeleton, must undergo ecdysis (the process of shedding skin in order to grow). The new exoskeleton will not fluoresce under UV light until it hardens, which can take 10 to 20 days on average depending on the species. Experiments have shown that the magnitude (brightness) of the scorpions fluorescing can also be reduced through continuous and prolonged exposure to UV light, indicating that the chemicals in the exoskeleton can decay over time. After ecdysis and the hardening of the new exoskeleton, the chemicals will be refreshed.
JUST HOW DANGEROUS ARE SCORPIONS? Scorpions are often misunderstood. The mere mention of their name strikes fear into many, and unsurprisingly so. Scorpions are arachnids, with vicious pincers (pedipalps) and intimidating tails that can inject potentially deadly venom. Despite this, scorpions are not on a mission to inflict pain and suffering upon others – they will actively avoid large mammals and only usually sting humans as a means of defence. Even then, the venom of the majority of scorpion species is not potent enough to kill a human. Despite this, several species of scorpion do possess venom potent enough to kill a human. Whilst statistics are scarce or often unreliable, an estimated 3 250 people are thought to die from scorpion stings around the world every year. In southern Africa it is probable that any large Parabuthus species can cause death in humans, especially where there is evidence that the nervous system is already compromised. While scorpions have evolved to become the top predators of some extremely arid environments, they do not have an easy life. Other animals have also learned to counter-adapt to dangers. The stings of scorpions probably evolved in the first instance as a means of subjugating prey, but they are used secondarily in defence. Nevertheless, baboons and other monkeys have managed to become adept at catching scorpions without getting stung, tearing off the tail and devouring just the body.
TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA SUMMER 2016/17
Parabuthus granulatus is considered to be the most venomous scorpion in southern Africa; it is commonly suspected that it causes several deaths each year. An interesting adaptation of Parabuthus granulatus is its colouration. It can take on a blackish brown colour in parts of South Africa where the land consists of darker rocks and gravel, whereas in the Kalahari Desert it takes on a dark yellow-orange colouration, presumably to blend in with the Kalahari sands where it can dig shallow burrows.
This particular Parabuthus species was found in an ephemeral river north of the Namib Desert. It can be difficult to determine species when colouration often differs dramatically within the same species.
The venom of all known scorpion species in the Namib consists of neurotoxins, which means it affects parts of the nervous system such as breathing, circulation, muscular coordination and blood pressure. Uses of venom extend further than just subjugating prey or warding off predators. The venom of some scorpion species can be used for medical purposes such as painkillers, and cure certain conditions such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and prevent cancer cells from passing. Scorpions play a vital role in the various ecosystems of the Namib Desert and the disruption and destruction of their habitats can have a cumulative effect on other life forms. Other than the venom of some Namibian scorpion species having a significant medical purpose, the importance of scorpions extends to being the top predators in some extremely arid areas. Insects are a primary source of food for scorpions, thus they control the abundance of insects. The burrowing species of scorpions replaces the function of small mammals in extremely arid environments such as the Namib, by aerating the soil and improving porosity/permeability.
RESEARCH ON SCORPIONS OF THE NAMIB DESERT Ritha Kapitango, a researcher at Gobabeb Research and Training Centre, where a permanent Namib Desert research station exists, studied various sites within the central Namib to measure the abundance of certain scorpion species. At the Swakop ephemeral river, normally host to a prime scorpion habitat, at least 70 trees per hectare had been cut down and burned. An unusually high quantity of the burrowing Parabuthus species was observed as well as a decline in tree bark scorpions, Uroplectes otjimbinguensis, compared to similar sites, hinting that the anthropogenic interference was the cause. The common tree bark scorpion, Uroplectes otjimbinguensis, is a species of southern African scorpion, which can usually be found after sunset between the peeling bark of camel thorn trees â€“ its preferred habitat. Ritha found drastically fewer tree bark scorpions at another ephemeral river she visited and concluded that this was due to the invasive honey mesquite tree, Prosopis glandulasa. When studying sites with a higher abundance of their preferred indigenous trees, a higher population of tree bark scorpions was noted â€“ an indication of the importance of managing and reducing such aggressive alien invaders. Despite an abundance of scorpion species across the globe, many of these scorpions are seldom seen by the casual passerby. This in turn could be attributed to their largely nocturnal behaviour as well as their homes typically being hidden from prying eyes. The homes of burrowing scorpion species in the Namib are often characterised by a seemingly insignificant
dome-shaped entrance. However, these small openings often lead to subterranean architectural wonders. Martin Handjaba, a researcher at Gobabeb, and a team from Ben Gurion University of the Negev, used ordinary resin to cast scorpion burrows in the sandy soils. The cold resin was poured into a burrow opening where it eventually dried and created a positive of the burrow. It is described as a positive due to the resin creating a hollow tube as it seeps into the surrounding soil. However, a consequence of this seepage is an unclear representation of true burrow size and structure. A negative burrow casting, created with aluminium or zinc creates a solid burrow structure, giving a clearer representation of burrow size and structure due to the minimal seepage. As the resin dried out, the team were able to extract the hardened burrows from the ground, which gave an indication of the true extent of these grand structures. Martin and the team discovered separate chambers throughout the winding and spiralling burrows, consistent with other burrow
FURTHER READING ON SCORPION BURROW RESEARCH IN THE NAMIB:
studies worldwide. Not only is burrowing a successful way in which to avoid predation or fire, but it is also an effective way to minimise the harsh conditions of the desert environment. The deeper the burrow, the cooler and more humid the environment within the burrow. In the deeper areas of scorpion burrows, carbon dioxide levels are also higher than oxygen levels, an interesting oddity in which the burrowing scorpion species has adapted to live in. Research has shown that when surface humidity is less than 5%, the humidity of a burrow descending to a depth of 20 to 35 cm can be as high as 55 to 70%. Midday soil temperatures in the Namib can reach a high of 80Â°C. The importance of burrowing therefore extends further than just acting as a home for some scorpion species. The burrow introduces water and air into the soil and when the scorpion takes its prey into the burrow, it can add a significant amount of organic matter to the soil. One could assume the mysteriousness and general lack of understanding surrounding scorpions are largely attributed to their nocturnal and secretive lives: hidden away underground, in-
Handjaba, M. 2016. The incredible bioarchitectes of the Namib. Gobabeb Research and Training Centre. www.gobabebtrc.org/index.php/component/ content/article/1-latest-news/316-the-incrediblebioarchitects-of-the-namib between rocks, crevices or tree bark, scorpions are seldom seen. When we do encounter these creatures, it is not unusual to be overcome with the fear of being injected with potentially life-threatening venom. Despite significant research currently being undertaken on scorpions in the Namib, further studies are needed if we are to come close to fully understanding these ancient creatures formerly bound to the oceans. Not only have they managed to climb out of the water onto dry land, but also to adapt to some of the hottest and driest places on Earth. Caution should be exercised with the highly venomous species, but to kill or harm unnecessarily is to defile hundreds of millions of years of evolution. Scorpions are superbly adapted predators, which possess otherworldly physiological traits which we donâ€™t yet fully understand. As well as being of vital importance to arid ecosystems not only in the Namib, but the world over, scorpions can provide us with medically significant venom. These are substantial reasons as to why these under-researched, small, but significant creatures deserve attention. TNN
TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA SUMMER 2016/17
CONNECT YOUR TRIP
Text Nirvani Pillay Photographs Wilderness Safaris
Southern Africa is host to a collection of magnif icent places, awe-inspiring landscapes, majestic animals and breathtaking moments. From north to south, Namibia teems with possibilities for your next safari. But our neighbours are just as gifted and we highly recommend connecting your next trip to Namibia with a hop across a border. Follow Travel News Namibia over the next year as we explore our magnif icent neighbouring countries with Wilderness Safaris. 24
imbabwe lies snugly in the heart of southern Africa, with the majestic Zambezi River coursing along the northern border and the languid Limpopo River forming the southern border. Between these two great African rivers lie some of the most unspoiled and pristine wilderness areas on the continent, offering diverse habitats ranging from the granite hills of Matopos to majestic mountains, lush forests, and savannah mosaics. The country arguably has an unmatched abundance of big game and an incredible diversity of bird species.
It is here in Zimbabwe that eco-luxury safari operator Wilderness Safaris has maintained a long presence in private concessions within Hwange and Mana Pools National Parks, where its successful ecotourism model has been recognised as a winning formula for sustainable conservation. Over the years Zimbabwe experienced challenges owing to the sociopolitical climate. However, Wilderness Safaris remained fiercely committed to keeping the lodges active in its concessions despite the financial impact. The company did this to ensure it met its responsibilities
TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA SUMMER 2016/17
to both communities and conservation, supporting game water provision, firebreak maintenance, anti-poaching units and community engagement. Over the past few years, the country’s tourism sector has seen a strong comeback and Wilderness Safaris is fully able to showcase its luxury lodges in some of the most spectacular wilderness areas in southern Africa. Mana Pools National Park is, without doubt, one of the most remote and beautiful areas in Zimbabwe. Mana means ‘four’ in Shona (the local language of Zimbabwe), and refers to the four main pools – Main, Chine, Long and Chisambuk – which are remnants of channels of the river that stopped flowing years ago. These and other pools dotting the inland areas hold water all year round, drawing a large concentration of wildlife and birds during the dry season: April to early November. Wilderness Safaris Ruckomechi and Little Ruckomechi Camps are located on a private concession within Mana Pools National Park, where luxury tents under the shade of broad-canopied ana trees overlook the Zambezi River. The destination is increasingly considered a must-see bucket-list one, as well as one of the last true remaining wilderness areas in southern Africa. The landscape of Mana Pools is quite simply mesmerising as you enjoy the dramatic scenery of the floodplains, riverfront and mountain backdrop. There is a high density of elephants, curious creatures which swim across the river from island to island. As rightful owners of Mana Pools, they pass through camp snacking on the ripe ana pods, nicknamed ‘choc-chip cookies’ by the staff. In startling landscape and biodiversity contrast, Hwange National Park is home to some of the largest concentrations of large mammals including elephant and buffalo. Big cats are regularly
seen, along with a diversity of birdlife. The park is over 70 years old and remains the core habitat in the region for a number of species. Located on the private concessions of Makalolo and Linkwasha, Wilderness Safaris’ three camps are uniquely distinct from each other. Linkwasha Camp is the newest and most exclusive of the company’s Hwange establishments, and is arguably located on the best location within the park. Little Makalolo Camp is differentiated by its intimate size and action-filled log hide which overlooks a busy waterhole. The comparatively relaxed Davison’s Camp is a delight for guests who want laid-back luxury. Very few activities can match a walking safari on Ngamo Plains, where in the summer months there are so many animals that your eye is unsure of which animal to look at first. The close proximity to nature certainly heightens the experience of the wilderness, and you are always accompanied by a trained guide: Zimbabwe’s guides undertake the most rigorous training in all of southern Africa. TNN To book your Zimbabwean adventure with Wilderness Safaris, visit: www.wilderness-safaris.com, or send an e-mail to email@example.com.
WHEN TO GO?
Hwange National Park is an all-year-round destination. Summer game viewing is exceptional in these private concessions owing to the consistent supply of water. Mana Pools is inaccessible during the rainy season.
HOW TO GET THERE FROM NAMIBIA?
• Air Namibia has regular flights from Windhoek to Harare and Victoria Falls. • A bus service also travels between Windhoek and Victoria Falls. • There are various self-drive route options via Botswana's Chobe National Park or through Livingstone in Zambia.
Between two great African rivers, lie some of the most unspoiled and pristine wilderness areas on the continent, offering diverse habitats, an unmatched abundance of big game and incredible diversity of bird species.
bird species Text and photographs Pompie Burger
Youâ€™re heading for disaster, because you never read the signs. - Queen -
The Bateleur is one of the raptors in danger of becoming extinct.
ENDANGERED BIRDS OF NAMIBIA:
Wattled Crane (Bugeranus carunculatus)
Great White Pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus)
❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏ ❏
African finfoot African marsh-harrier African penguin Atlantic yellow-nosed albatross Bank cormorant Bateleur Black harrier Black stork Black-browed albatross Booted eagle Cape cormorant Cinderella waxbill Hooded vulture Ludwig’s bustard Martial eagle Rock pratincole Rufous-bellied heron Saddle-billed stork Slaty egret Southern ground-hornbill Tawny eagle Violet wood-hoopoe Wattled crane White-backed vulture Yellow-billed Oxpecker
BIRDING WITH POMPIE
f we acknowledge that the 25 bird species which are on the endangered list in Namibia could be extinct in 20 years’ time (a 20% chance) we should start thinking hard and long what we as Namibians can do to prevent this from happening. Will these 25 bird species end up being shadows on the wall? The idea that these birds are on their way to becoming history is not a bird lover’s pipe dream. The fact that taxis will be extinct by then is unfortunately a pipe dream. The reality of these birds becoming extinct is based on facts if past and present trends are taken into account. These trends indicate that if their numbers keep on declining as they have been doing so far this is a very real and unfortunate reality. Small populations and restricted distribution are probably the main reasons for their seriously declining numbers. Unfortunately politicians are not an endangered species: it is therefore important to recognise that ‘endangered’ and ‘dangerous’ are two wholly different concepts. Although one immediately thinks that this decline is the result of culling and shooting (as is the problem with
their bigger and more visible counterparts in the wild like the rhino, elephant and painted dogs), the real reason is unfortunately a direct result of human intervention in nature. Like many other fauna and flora, birds depend on a specific environment where they can live and thrive in a safe haven. One can only look at global warming (human effect), witchcraft, poisoning, the reduction of different habitats like farming, industrialisation and pollution (indeed all human factors) which reduce these very special habitats to such levels that there is no place left for the birds to survive. Probably the most vulnerable habitat in Namibia is the Zambezi Region where flood plains, marshes and rivers are under a real and constant threat. This area supports 12 of the 25 endangered species in Namibia. Pollution and uncontrolled fishing are probably the big culprits in these areas. In the rivers and associated breeding habitats, disturbances (such as speed boats) threaten the African Skimmers, African Finfoot, African Fish-eagle and Rock Pratincole. The floodplains and marshes host the African Marsh Harrier, Rufous-bellied Heron, Saddle-billed Stork, Slaty Egret and Wattled Crane.
The African Finfoot is endangered because of river pollution.
Rufous-bellied Heron taking off, but hopefully not leaving forever
The Yellow-billed Oxpeckers are of great concern, because insecticides that were (and still are) used indiscriminately on livestock are eradicating these birds from most areas of our country. Needless to say that poaching and the subsequent poisoning of carcasses are on the increase and the Bateleur, Hooded Vulture and White-backed Vulture populations are fast becoming extinct thanks to this type of brainless action. Namibian farmers are some of the main culprits who, in the process of trying to kill jackal and other wild animals, subsequently destroy this valuable asset. One of the main problems for the African Ground Hornbill, which used to be abundant in the Zambezi Region, is road kill (resulting from driving too fast) and habitat destruction. Unfortunately, the good and well-kept tar roads in the north lend themselves to fast driving and the subsequent killing of this species. If you wonder why I visit the Zambezi Region so often, the reason is that I am trying to save as many of these wonderful bird species as possible from extinction. Climate change has also had a big effect on the Black Stork population with the decrease in ephemeral rivers and flow disruption in perennial rivers. Another real threat for birds, especially the bigger species like Ludwig’s and Kori Bustards is collisions into fences, windfarms and powerlines which, in addition, can cause electrocution. Luckily fences and windfarms are not that common (yet) in Namibia. How wonderful it would be if we could live in a world without any fences and powerlines (another pipe dream…). Deep sea birds like the Cape Gannet,
As niemand van jou hoor nie, As niemand van jou weet nie, Kan jy tog niks verloor nie, Kan niemand jou vergeet nie. - Koos du Plessis -
Wandering Albatross, Tristan Albatross, Black-browed Albatross, Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross, Northern Giant Petrel, White-chinned Petrel, Spectacled Petrel and Sooty Shearwater are all threatened by long-line and net fishing. I have always assumed that it’s the fishermen who cause problems and I secretly hope that they will also become an endangered species – the fishermen, not the birds. The main threat to shore birds are pesticides, lack of food (fishermen again), oil pollution (petrol joggies), getting entangled in debris (fishermen again) and environment fluctuation (fishermen again). Birds most affected are cormorants (Crowned, Bank and Cape). Greater and lesser Flamingos and Great White Pelicans are all in danger because of low breeding success, pesticides, powerlines and disturbance by aircrafts. Human disturbance, especially by bird watchers or, more specifically, photographers does not pose a huge problem. The breeding areas of Caspian and Damara Terns are under threat from vehicles (quadbikes, and 4x4s) driven by enthusiasts/hooligans. Although there is a definitive decline in the numbers of raptors it is rather surprising that so few of them are actually threatened, especially the Booted Eagle and the Black Harrier. In my opinion they have already been extinct for a long time, because I have been searching for them for the past 20 years without any luck. Raptors that are also observed relatively often but remain on the endangered list are Martial Eagles and Tawny Eagles, although it is easy to confuse the two species.
BIRDING WITH POMPIE
Hopefully this Southern Ground Hornbill will not end up being a road kill.
Two of Namibia’s endemics which are also under threat are the Damara Tern and the Violet Wood-hoopoe hybridation with the Green Woodhoopoe). At least this is not the fault of human intervention. The Cinderella Waxbill which is my personal dodo, might already be extinct as far as I am concerned. However, local movement around the Kunene River makes them rather elusive and difficult to find: perhaps ‘endangered’ and ‘difficult to find’ are not the same thing. Our African Penguins, which are found only at Lüderitz and surrounding islands, remain a major conservation challenge, especially on account of the threat of oil pollution. Unfortunately, this threat seems to be on the increase, only to be removed if all the penguins migrate to the Antarctic or remain in Sandra Dantu’s backyard. However, this will not be a safe haven either because space might become a problem.
Peter Bridgeford's special, the Lappet-faced Vulture
So are we heading for disaster? Only time will tell. TNN
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Thanks to Simmons, Brown and Kemper for their wonderful book: Birds to watch in Namibia. Red, rare and endemic species.
A Slaty Egret looking for survival
TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA SUMMER 2016/17
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SAVING THE WORLD ONE RHINO AT A TIME Text Elzanne Erasmus Photographs Chris Botha & Elzanne Erasmus
“What are we going to tell our children when it’s all gone?” The rustic strains of Elemotho’s* voice fills the air which I hoarsely draw into my lungs as I, for a horrifying second, contemplate a universe in which I exist and a species stronger, mightier, and just as important as my own does not. For an agonising moment I imagine myself sitting on the edge of a bed sometime in the distant future, reading a fairy tale to a child. The fairy tale tells of a gentle and majestic giant, ambling across an arid plain. The creature blends into the beauty of his surroundings. He is at peace with his environment. He belongs there. He is a part of the soil and the rocks and the scattered green protruding from dry earth. He is a part of the pulse of the land. From afar, watchful eyes observe his journey. The observers admire the creature as they admire the landscape around him, and they smile because they know that the beauty they see before them is a true reflection of the natural order of things. They smile because they are lucky enough to be enthralled by the magnitude of the moment. Back on the edge of this future bed, I close the fairy tale and look down at the child. “Wow,” he says. “What a magical creature that was and what a magical moment. I wish fairy tales and creatures like those were real.” And a tear streaks a shining path down my cheek as I reply: “They used to be…”
What are we going to tell our children when it’s all gone? How we sold it all, even the last rhino’s horn. – Elemotho, Save the Rhino
For the second time in as many years, cyclists joined a group of like-minded individuals, passionate about the plight of Namibia’s black rhino, on this exceptional quest. I saw him, that magical creature in the fairy tale. Except that he was no myth or legend. His name was Kangombe. No, delete that. His name is Kangombe, and he is alive and well. His horns are still where they should be. No one has ‘relieved’ him of his horns yet. The natural order is still intact. But I dread the day that I may have to report on Kangombe’s killing. I fear the day when his horn, a collection of hair follicles, costs him his life And I fear the day when man’s greed will cost us his species.
“IT TAKES A GREAT DEAL OF COURAGE TO SEE THE WORLD IN ALL ITS TAINTED GLORY AND STILL LOVE IT.” – OSCAR WILDE So here are the facts: This is not a fairy tale, or a dream we will wake up from. Since 2008, poaching has led to the death of almost 6 000 African rhinos. There is estimated to be only around 5 000 black rhinos left in Africa today. The price of rhino horn has risen to $60 000 per kilogram – twice the value of gold and platinum – and is now more valuable on the black market than diamonds and cocaine. According to news sources such as The Namibian, the rhino poaching statistics in Namibia read as follows: In the period from 2005-2014 the
Ministry of Environment and Tourism reported the poaching of eight white rhinos and 95 black rhinos. A total of 25 black rhinos were reported to have been killed in 2014 alone. And in 2015? Eighty rhinos were poached.
“YOU BEGIN SAVING THE WORLD BY SAVING ONE THING AT A TIME, ALL ELSE IS GRANDIOSE ROMANTICISM OR POLITICS.” – CHARLES BUKOWSKI So what are the solutions? One topic under contention is the legalisation of the controlled trade of rhino horn. Much like the hot topic of the ivory trade that was under debate at a recent Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) conference, where it was suggested that the controlled trade of sourced or ‘farmed’ rhino horn gathered through de-horning activities would curb the poaching epidemic. This would come about as the trade will be flooded with a legal product at lower prices, nullifying the need for the substance to be sold on the black market. Save the Rhino International has not yet reached a conclusion on whether or not they agree with this suggestion, but they are currently investigating the merits
RIDE FOR RHINOS
TOP FROM LEFT
Crew members Martin and Thomas await the riders at a water/beer stop | The tour's 3 Master Chefs: Frans, Jonno and Romans | Cyclists take on tricky game track trails through rocky terrain of the idea. The organisation is discussing whether or not a compromise should be reached. It has been established that there is no single approach that will work. But perhaps a combination of anti-poaching initiatives and legal trade is the solution. Namibia has always been a big supporter of sustainable use. If this credo of viable absorption of natural resources and components of biodiversity can be used to support conservation efforts, these efforts could be incomegenerating and self-sustaining. The main threat to rhinos is poaching fuelled by the illegal trade in rhino horn: for traditional Asian medicine, for high prestige gifts and for a cancer cure according to the latest rumours spread in Vietnam. Whichever avenue you choose to support, one thing remains certain. The final solution lies in eradicating these source markets. If communities in the source market could be educated and made aware that they might as well be chewing on their own fingernails, none of these drastic measures would even need to be discussed. This is a pipe dream, however. But those of us who are passionate about saving the species, are nothing if not dreamers.
“BE A DREAMER. A DOER. A THINKER. SEE POSSIBILITIES EVERYWHERE.” He was walking down a dry river when we found him. We had been cycling all day through the rough terrain of
Damaraland in northwestern Namibia and we enjoyed the reprieve of the game-viewer vehicles and the cold beers we had on hand. We had left camp only 10 minutes before to go in search of the animal we had travelled all this way for. We watched his progress for what seemed like hours, softly chatting amongst ourselves and savouring the moment. Later that evening, around a campfire, Save the Rhino Trust rangers told us they knew Kangombe well. He was an old friend. They had been watching over him for decades. My heart soared at their words and at the realisation of the sacrifices made by individuals for the greater good. Some dedicate their lives to it. Some give money. Some give time. Others give their hearts. The 2016 RMB Namibia Ride for Rhinos combined all the adventure and thrill of a mountain-biking tour through the spectacular Namibian landscape with the passion driving an exciting new conservation effort. The tour, which first took place in October 2015, took 20 mountainbiking enthusiasts on a four-day journey through the Palmwag Concession Area adjacent to the Torra and Omatendeka conservancies of the Kunene Region. The area falls within Save the Rhino Trust Namibia’s one million hectare protection area. For the second time in as many years, cyclists joined a group of like-minded individuals, passionate about the plight of Namibia’s black rhino, on
Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light â€“ Dylan Thomas
RIDE FOR RHINOS this exceptional quest. For four days they traversed the rocky landscapes, battled the heat and the wind, and loved every second of their saddleback safari. In their ’downtime’ they discussed vital issues. Whether they were taking a water break, sipping gin and tonic while watching the sunset, or in deep conversation around late-night campfires, the dialogue never ceased. Opinions were given, issues discussed and ideas thrown about. I was thrilled every time someone used the term: “What if we…” This was a group of individuals capable of doing extraordinary things if they banded together. Among them were CEOs and department heads of major corporations in Namibia. There were tourism professionals, creatives, doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs and bankers – influential people. People who could make a difference and be a part of the solution. And each of them wanted to find a solution. In any way they could.
“IF WE ALL STAND TOGETHER, WE WILL WIN,” SAID SIMSON URI-KHOB, THE CEO OF SRT WITH THE GREATEST CONFIDENCE. RMB Namibia, Wilderness Safaris, CYMOT and Venture Media, all crave to be a part of this solution. Upon starting the initiative, Venture Media realised that it would only be possible through the combined efforts of a wonderful group of people. With financial contributions, RMB helped get the initiative off the ground and allowed us to turn it into the enormous success it is today. Wilderness Safaris, heading up the logistics of the tour and host of the final night’s accommodation, is integral to every step of this breathtaking experience. CYMOT’s MTB expertise and support made sure that the adventure kept going, despite the rugged terrain. And Venture Media? Well, at the end of the day all we want to do is to tell stories. So we facilitate and organise and bring this brilliant group of people and companies together. We strive to inspire. And most of all we make the connections that will allow this all-important conversation to continue. To continue beyond the water stops and the sunset chats and fireside debates. Making the connection between those who want to help and those who need it. Compared to the challenges faced by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and organisations such as Save the Rhino Trust, our job seems menial and easy. It is they who face the real challenges, and also the criticism that comes with the task and its inevitable failures.
CITES The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of wild fauna and flora is an international agreement between governments aimed at ensuring that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. See www.cites.org.
SUSTAINABLE USE Sustainable use means the use of components of biological diversity in a way and at a rate that does not lead to the long-term decline of biodiversity, thereby maintaining its potential to meet the needs and aspirations of present and future generations.
*Elemotho is a Namibian recording artist who recently released a song entitled Save the Rhino in conjunction with various other Namibian musicians as part of Save the Rhino Trust Namibia’s One Voice campaign. You can help support SRT’s efforts by purchasing the song at www.givetoday.com.na.
They have a tough job. But who can help? Those of us who can exert ourselves physically, or have cash or time to spare. What can we do? We can keep talking. We can facilitate the conversation. We can keep shining light on the problem and the issues at hand as brightly and for as long as possible. One thing every participant of this endeavour, this adventure for conservation, will tell you, is that a passion to take up the fight for nature comes from deep inside. You have to feel it. Feel the dread. Feel the dire consequence. And then you have to feel the need to stand up and do something. Feel the passion. Rally, roar, riot, rush, run, rage, or ride on a bicycle to save them. TNN
TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA SUMMER 2016/17
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DOROS geological mosaic
Text and photographs Helge Denker
A SPECTACULAR CONSERVANCY SIDE-TRACK
Species such as Welwitschia mirabilis and a variety of Commiphoras dot the plains and waches, while along larger ephemeral watervourses, mopane is the dominant species.
he dictum of Conservancy Side-Tracks is ‘finding the real’: real people, real places and real wildlife in all the captivating tracts of communal land around the country. Side-Tracks encourages travellers to slow down and to spend time in areas off the well-trodden transit routes. The Doros Crater area is one of these bypassed quarters. It lies just off the road between the famous White Lady of the Brandberg and the Twyfelfontein World Heritage Site. Yet it is easy to put in an extra day here to explore and to find the real Doros geological mosaic. Geology is an obvious focus and the Namibian Association of Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) Support Organisations (NACSO) has published a Sidetrack route brochure that becomes your explorer guide, providing a key to some of the area’s secrets. The introductory paragraph of each Side-Track brochure points out that ‘Conservancy Sidetracks are for discerning and adventurous travellers who: • respect local people and have a genuine interest in their cultures and livelihoods • want to spend extra days and true quality time exploring one place • have a real interest in the environment and the plants and animals that live there’.
Conservancy Side-Track brochures facilitate local exploration. They are full-colour publications with a large, detailed map to enable you to find your way around. They contain a variety of information that will help you interpret what you see along the way. Like all Conservancy Sidetracks, the Doros route is a designated tourism route in a community conservation area, developed to enhance visitor experiences by providing authorised access to sectors off the beaten track, and by sharing a variety of information to explore them. The proceeds from the sale of the brochures are reinvested into community conservation initiatives. Geology is such an innate aspect of every landscape that we often overlook it without recognising its beauty, its complexity, or its fundamental force in shaping the bedrock of life. Yet in arid lands, geology is tangible and graspable, even for the novice. There is little vegetation to obscure it. The Doros Crater area is such a place. Here the overall topography, the individual formations, and each rock form part of the cataclysmic formation within a vast world. A common thread throughout that story concerns the repeated joining and splitting apart of continental land masses over several thousand million years, as the Earth itself took shape. The continental oscillations culminated in the formation of the
super-continent Gondwana 550 million years ago. Gondwana, in turn, began to break slowly apart 180 million years ago to create the modern-day continents of Africa and South America, as well as Antarctica, Australia and India. The shifting and shaping of entire continents obviously involve extreme forces, including extensive volcanic activity, which created vast fields of lava that covered much of what today are parts of Namibia and Brazil. In many places, the edges of the forming continents lifted and entire mountain ranges were created and shifted. Over time, the forces of erosion washed away the debris and smoothed the edges. Left for us to marvel at is one of the most interesting and intricate patchworks of geology in Namibia, known in geological circles as the Damaraland rock complexes in the greater Erongo-Brandberg-Doros Crater area. There is much more to see here, of course, than interesting geology. Plant life is sparse but diverse and fascinating. Species such as the famous Welwitschia mirabilis and a variety of Commiphoras dot the plains and washes, while along larger ephemeral watercourses, mopane is the dominant species. Like the flora, wildlife tends to be scarce in such drylands, but it is there and when it shows itself, it always brings the stunning surroundings alive. Giraffe, Hartmann’s mountain zebra, kudu, gemsbok, springbok and steenbok make up the more regular sightings, but you may be lucky enough to see an elephant or a leopard, or any one of a number of other rare species. Along the route, you will also pass interesting local homesteads, and there are a few interesting car wrecks to photograph. Farming here is difficult for communities who depend on livestock herding, which they must supplement with other sources of income. Conservation and tourism provide options to diversify local livelihoods and enable life with the wildlife, be it elephants or lions. The Doros region, like most communal lands of the northwest, is partitioned into registered communal conservancies, which together form the huge Erongo-Kunene Community Conservation Area. Conservancies are in essence social units, defined by a group of people who have decided to work together to form a conservancy and jointly manage the natural resources of their area. Conservancy boundaries thus tend to have unusual shapes, which are often unrelated to natural features. Interlinked neighbours create a contiguous conservancy patchwork that covers most of the communal lands of the Erongo and Kunene regions. The Doros Sidetrack route meanders across the Doro Nawas, Sorris Sorris and Uibasen Twyfelfontein conservancies. Many vehicle tracks lace this landscape, some created by reprobate four-wheelers driving where they like, some used by local farmers to access water points or grazing areas; others were created by mining and geological exploration activities. One of the aims of Conservancy Side-tracks is to reduce indiscriminate driving, and travellers are encouraged to remain on the route designated in the Doros Side-Track brochure.
shape is best appreciated from above and shows most clearly on satellite imagery, the views from the rim do give a good impression of the crater geology. Doros Crater is a ring complex (or ring dyke) created by the volcanic activity that accompanied the breakup of Gondwana. Magma broke through the Earth’s crust in a process known as an igneous intrusion. The outflow created a cavity beneath the Earth’s surface, which subsequently collapsed and formed the caldera. From most vantage points along the route, the Brandberg, Namibia’s highest mountain, looms as a distant colossus – the mountain in the background. The Brandberg is also a ring complex, albeit a much more imposing one than the Doros Crater. It consists mostly of granites formed beneath the Earth’s surface, which now stand exposed. Today, the landscapes of Doros are enveloped by great silences. Yet even a rudimentary understanding of geology can bring this monumental world to life in our imagination, until we seem to hear the rumblings of an Earth alive. Or is it just the ringing silence in our ears? Go there and find out. TNN
FOUR TOPOGRAPHICAL FEATURES 1. Goantagab Poort – a narrow passage of the Goantagab River between sheer rock ridges 2. Doros Crater – the volcanic ring complex at the heart of the route 3. Twyfelfontein Plateau – sandstone formations providing the canvas for the famous engravings 4. Brandberg – Namibia’s highest mountain, towering over all the land
FOUR GEOLOGICAL FEATURES 1. Calcrete conglomerates – rocks and pebbles of various origins bound by calcareous material 2. Schist plates – metamorphic rock occurring in distinct layers or plates 3. Basalt – the widespread evidence of volcanic activity 4. Dolomite rock – the ‘elephant skin rock’ that arches in colossal ridges across the land
GET YOUR SIDE-TRACK Conservancy Side-Track route brochures are available at CYMOT outlets in Windhoek, Swakopmund and Otjiwarongo, and at selected accommodation establishments in conservancies. For more info visit www.nacso.org.na.
The Doros Crater itself is a wonderful place to explore. A walk to the crater rim is well worth the effort, providing expansive views across wonderful landscapes. While the actual crater
TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA SUMMER 2016/17
Swakopmund THREE DAYS in
Text and photographs Ron Swilling
BETWEEN DESERT AND SEA LIES ONE OF THE MOST UNUSUAL AND FASCINATING TOWNS SOUTH OF THE EQUATOR â€¦
The town of Swakopmund is beyond time, as if it has slipped in between the centuries like a joker in a pack of cards. With its old German flavour and extreme desert location, it is a charming anomaly. Yet its incongruence is its attraction. With a dash of old-fashioned flavour and a sprinkle of Africa, it remains an out-of-the ordinary destination and a prime spot for respite from the road.
hat do you do in Swakop (as the locals call it) if you have the good fortune of spending three days there? Well, after visiting regularly over the years, I’d say REST – that juicy and often elusive R&R (rest and relaxation), especially for the first day or two. After long days of travelling, it’s always a pleasure to park your dusty vehicle and walk. And Swakop is the place to do just that. Pedestrian-friendly, the town’s centre is an easy and interesting place to explore. With a bevy of coffee and curio shops, bakeries, book shops and restaurants, it’s a place to stretch legs and inhale some of the fresh, cool sea air so generously on offer.
WHIZZING ALONG THE TRANS-KALAHARI HIGHWAY The excitement already starts to build up on the road from the interior when your heart starts beating a bit faster as you pass the Spitzkoppe massif and crystal market near Usakos, and then watch in amazement as the landscape quickly transforms into the Namib Desert. The vehicle seems to swallow the last hundred kilometres in a big gulp, as if an enormous magnet is drawing you to the coast, turning geography on its head. Twenty kilometres from the town, as you spot the emerald vegetation of the ephemeral Swakop River snaking to the sea – accentuated against the tawny colours of the desert – and see the inevitable layer of mist hanging heavily on the horizon, you have the comforting sensation of a traveller returning home.
LOCAL DELICACIES & TRADITIONS Swakop is a town that grows on you and calls you back again and again. First thing to do in the morning, in true Swakopmund fashion, is to pop into the Backerei and Konditorei Przybylski on Daniël Tjongarero Street for brötchen/bread rolls straight out of the oven. One of the few bakeries to open its doors at 6 a.m., it buzzes nonstop until 11 with people queuing for coffee, brötchen (made with various fillings including schnitzel, and toppings like Rohhack – a German delicacy of raw minced beef fillet – and egg mayonnaise). Another indulgence (for later in the day), which has become a Swakopmunder tradition over the years, is black forest cake from Café Anton, an old haunt, fondly remembered by residents since childhood days. Culinary delights of more recent origin include ice cream from Ice & Spice and the homemade variety from Cordes & Co. Coffee Shop. The Swakopmund Brewing Company in the Strand Hotel is a new and modern meeting place, where craft beer is brewed on site and a short tour with tasting is offered. Sipping beer (brewed according to the old Reinheitsgebot) on a cold day next to a blazing fire, is a pastime that could very well become another Swakop tradition.
DON'T MISS: • A walk up the Woermann Tower for the best view of Swakopmund (key available from African Desk) • Strolling on the jetty … • Fresh Swakop River greens sold outside Photo Behrens, Tobias Hainyeko Street, on Tuesday & Thursday morning
A touch of Africa: Crafters selling their wares in the street market next to the museum.
Fresh produce, grown along the Swakop River, is sold outside Photo Behrens on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.
Fathers and sons enjoying a morning of fishing off the Swakop jetty.
FISH, FLOTSAM & CRYSTAL CAVES Some other traditions, which are slowly becoming ingrained, include a visit to the small aquarium, where the surprise of finding sharks swimming overhead is nearly as much fun as watching the children’s expressions of wonder. Old favourites are the Kristall Galerie, home to the largest crystal cluster (on display) in the world, and a visit to the Swakopmund museum. It is difficult not to spend hours in its grasp, enraptured by the People of Namibia exhibition, the flotsam and jetsam from the many ships wrecked along the treacherous coastline and the fascinating titbits of history. It gives a better understanding of the early days of the town when passengers had to be lifted from their boats onto the jetty in a wicker basket. With the only deep-water harbour in the country claimed by the British in Walvis Bay, the German settlers of the late 19th century had little option but to make do with what they had. They first built the Mole, a tidal breakwater, that was used for two years until a sand bank developed causing them to construct a wooden jetty.
THE GRAND DAMES OF SWAKOPMUND The wide Swakopmund streets, the surprising use of historical names like Bismarck and Kaiser Wilhelm, and several grand old buildings from the turn of the 20th century are testament to the European influence. Haus Hohenzollern is the most impressive and decorative with corner pediments of lions and Atlas struggling with the weight of the world. Once an illustrious hotel, it is said to have been closed due to excessive gambling – and prostitution! Other fine buildings of the time include the Old Fort (now a youth hostel), Hotel Prinzessin Rupprecht (once a military hospital), Woermannhaus (the former headquarters of the Damara and Namaqua Trading Company) and the Swakopmund Hotel (once the stately old railway station).
PERSEVERANCE & TENACITY It is astonishing to imagine the tenacity of the first 40 intrepid settlers and 120 Schutztruppe (German colonial
SIP ON A GOOD CUP OF COFFEE AT: • • • • •
Bojos Village Café Cordes & Co, Coffee & Food Café Anton Slowtown Coffee Roasters
SAVOUR SUPPER AT: • • • • • • • • • •
The Tug Jetty 1905 Secret Garden (for pizza & pasta) Kücki’s The Brauhaus (for German fare) Ocean Cellar Brewer & Butcher Farmhouse Deli Garnish (for Indian cuisine) Platform One
soldiers), who landed on the bleak and barren shore in 1892. The riches of the desert and sea soon became apparent: salt, guano (bird droppings, highly prized in Europe as a fertiliser) and seal pelts. The settlers arrived with the idea of creating a harbour for the fledgling German protectorate and to create a route inland to transport goods. With a crashing ocean and a limited water supply this was a feat that would take utmost perseverance and stamina. At first oxen were used for the arduous journey into the interior, a journey that took 14 to 21 days. Transportation came to a standstill when countless cattle died in the rinderpest outbreak in 1897. The railway line built in 1902 provided the solution, enabling the town to finally spread its wings.
CRUISING AROUND … Back to the present. When you do feel like taking a leisurely drive, two short and easy routes have become firm favourites. The 30 km drive southwards to Walvis Bay between desert dunes and icy sea is always awe-inspiring no matter how many times you have done it. It combines pleasantly with a stop for lunch at the small Walvis Bay waterfront behind the yacht club and a drive out past the lagoon to the salt works where flamingoes gather in their hundreds in the drier times of the year. Return inland behind the range of dunes, marked by the popular Dune 7. The next is a drive to the moon landscape and Goanikontes, via the C28 to the Namib Naukluft Park, on the outskirts of the town. Goanikontes, a small oasis in the desert, is the original farm that supplied the town with fresh vegetables more than a century ago. This easy drive, suitable for all vehicles, offers superb desert scenery with a chance to enter the earthy moonscape as you dip down into the valley to reach Goanikontes, breaking the trip for a bite to eat. An extra weekend special: if you happen to find yourself in town on Saturday morning, the Shalom Farm along the Swakop River is a great place for a cup of coffee and a snack, and to purchase fresh Swakop greens, including asparagus that thrives on the salty underground water.
SPOILT FOR CHOICE And, what about activities? Swakop is the adventure hub of Namibia after all! Keep day 3 free. The choice is endless and if you have always dreamt of paragliding, this is your opportunity. Top of my list: paddling among the seals in the Walvis Bay lagoon, a boat trip, a living desert tour and a day trip to Sandwich Harbour. Make supper reservations before you head out. If time and weather allow, leave space at the end of the day. Stroll along the jetty to where the waves roll in and where you have the best view of the sun setting into the sea, often accompanied by a flock of flamingoes flying elegantly past. This is Swakop at its best and time well spent, before you continue exploring the extraordinary country of Namibia. TNN
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT â€˜Save water; drink beer. You are now in the desert!â€™ | Beer tasting at the Swakopmund Brewing Company, Strand Hotel | Ice & Spice, one of the many Swakop eateries to tantalise the taste buds | Whether a misty afternoon or a golden sunset, calm seas or crashing waves, a walk along the jetty is a highlight of a visit to the desert town | A chance to experience the wonders of the ocean at the Swakopmund Aquarium.
TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA SUMMER 2016/17
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BACK TO THE FUTURE AT THE OVAHIMBA LIVING MUSEUM Text and photographs Ron Swilling
The latest living museum, celebrating the rich and ancient Himba culture, is now open to visitors 40 km north of Opuwo, en route to Epupa Falls …
people in Africa. It also, amusingly, allows the Himba to ask you a question or two: ‘’Are you married?’’ ‘’How many wives does your husband have?’’ ‘’Do you keep animals at home?’’
An exhilarating, energetic demonstration of the Himba culture – aka a ‘living museum’ – has recently opened, giving you the opportunity to do all this, and more, as well as to learn about the intriguing traditional life of the Himba people. This includes their dress, food and craft (wood carving and metal work). Guests learn about how the homestead is built, with the Holy Fire at its heart, where all the important communication with the ancestors takes place. They also have the unique opportunity to sit in a hut with a bevy of Himba women learning about their intricate beauty rituals, which enable them to look strikingly beautiful even in the remote areas of Kaokoland. A translator is on hand to make a two-way conversation possible, allowing you into the mysterious life of one of the last seminomadic desert-dwelling
The living-museum concept may sound like an oxymoron, but the Living Culture Foundation Namibia (LCFN), established in 2006, has merged the two in a healthy and holistic relationship. Rather than being a 'museum' in the conventional sense, which houses implements and artefacts from days long past, the living museum is set in an outdoor arena (in the case of the Himba, modelled on a traditional homestead), is interactive (if you want it to be) and is dynamic i.e. involves the cultural group demonstrating their traditional way of life while you watch or partake in the activities. This has multiple benefits. It reinforces cultural values, educates the young, revives age-old skills and provides an income to members in the rural areas where there is little chance of employment. It also, importantly, reduces the
t’s not every day that you have a chance to milk a goat, learn to stick fight or play an erose (cattle trumpet), instructed by the Himba wearing their traditional dress.
risk of exploitation. And it does all this while giving the lucky traveller the opportunity to experience this intriguing culture. The Ovahimba Living Museum is the sixth living museum in Namibia to date. The museum originated in a slightly different way than the others. This time, they were approached by Rimunikavi (John) Tjipurua, who had come up with a similar idea and approached the LCFN to collaborate. John had seen cultural displays on a trip to South Africa, organised by the Namibian Tourism Board, and had been impressed and inspired. It was on the same trip that he also met one of the members from the Living Museum of the Ju/’Hoansi-San, who told him about LCFN and the support they offer to the living museums in the form of marketing and guidance. John had built a simple campsite on family land at Omungunda, near Opuwo in northern Namibia, which he realised would be the perfect location. He started to build the homestead and enlist willing performers. He also discussed the idea with the tribal elder and received his approval. It was all set to go. The Ovahimba Living Museum opened officially on 5 November 2016 after a refreshing rain shower, with a presentation of the programme in the morning – culminating in an exuberant performance of singing and dancing – and the opening in the late afternoon. A supper feast was held in the evening, as befits any important Himba occasion. According to John, “preserving the Himba culture” is the essence of the living museum. Brought up in the area as a rural Himba boy wearing traditional dress, he realises the importance of the age-old traditions. “Life is changing and the traditional way is dying slowly but surely, because of the influence of the modern world.” With the opening of the living museum, he is looking positively ahead to the future.
DIRECTIONS: The Ovahimba Living Museum is on the C43, 40 km north of Opuwo. (Camping is available at the Omungunda Campsite)
CONTACT DETAILS: +264 (0)81 838 2556 | email@example.com Living Culture Foundation Namibia (LCFN) +264 (0)61 220 563 | www.lcfn.info/en
THE SIX LIVING MUSEUMS OF NAMIBIA: • The first living museum to be established: The Living Museum of the Ju/’Hoansi-San at Grashoek (on the C44 to Tsumkwe) • In the north-east: The Living Museum of the Mbunza, 14 km west of Rundu (on the B10 towards Nkurenkuru) and the Living Museum of the Mafwe reached from the D3502 turn-off at Kongola • Near Twyfelfontein: The Living Museum of the Damara • The Little Hunter’s Museum, on the outskirts of Tsumkwe, which offers a three-day programme in the Nyae Nyae conservancy where traditional hunting is still allowed • And, the newest, the Living Museum of the Ovahimba! A brief history: Far from his original intention, Werner Pfeiffer’s idea of starting up living museums in Namibia grew from meeting the residents of the small village of Grashoek while working on a devil’s claw project. Werner had experience with a similar concept in Europe, reenacting Stone Age times. Over the years, he adapted and expanded it to encompass the Namibian cultures. In 2004, the Living Museum of the Ju/’Hoansi-San was opened, offering a special San (Bushman) experience to visitors. Two years later, the LCFN was born with three founding members: Werner Pfeiffer and Sebastian and Kathrin Dürrschmidt. In subsequent years they met with other cultural groups around the country and several living museums were established. TNN
If an old man dies in Africa, an entire library goes up in flames. - Amadou Hampâté Bâ -
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THROUGH A DIFFERENT LENS Xenia Invanoff-Erb
enia Ivanoff-Erb is a professional graphic designer, brand consultant and photographer. This year, she proudly acknowledges, she has 25 years of experience in the business of “bringing brands to life”. She graduated from Rhodes University with a BA degree in Fine Arts which she says “provided me with a solid background in the Arts but with a degree that certainly did not open any doors into the world of commercial design. I did, however, have the opportunity to study photography for one semester with the world-renowned South African photographer, Obie Oberholtzer. Not once did I pick up a camera nor did I really take much note about shutter speeds or apertures ... What Obie did teach me
was how to see an image and how to evoke emotion through an image”. It is interesting that at the time Xenia started her university career, the well-known Namibian photographer, Tony Figuera, had just completed his studies at the same university. “That’s not the only thing Tony and I have in common: last year while Tony was helping me prepare for my first photographic exhibition in Swakopmund, we discovered by chance that we share the same birthday,” says Xenia. “I love the sense of unity and the diverse community in Swakop. My husband Georg and I spend many hours exploring nature and the environment in and around Swakopmund. It feeds my soul, it makes me feel alive.”
CAPTURING MOTION The images on this page are simple everyday subjects; there is nothing very remarkable about them except that I have challenged myself to capture the essence of water in motion. The reason I have chosen such simple subjects was because in each subject there was an element which appealed to me: the twilight sky, the aquamarine colour and the dark-red garnet beach sand. To make each subject stand out I applied specific creative skills to capture the viewers’ attention. The two beach scenes use a technique called long exposure. I had to have my camera on a tripod to keep it completely still and set the shutter to stay open for longer then 1/15 of a second to capture the movement of the water. I mostly use an ISO 100 setting for best quality and an aperture of F14 for sharpness throughout the image. I also use a black UV (10xND) filter on the front of my lens which acts like a pair of very dark sunglasses so you can keep the lens open long enough without the rest of the photograph being completely overexposed to the light.
TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA SUMMER 2016/17
CAPTURING THE DUNES Photographing the dunes near Swakopmund is my single most favourite subject. They are sensual, they are emotive and to me their colour and texture are far more exquisite than the dunes around Sossusvlei. When I first planned my trip to Namibia the clever camera people told me that without a doubt you need a wide-angle lens, I was utterly disappointed with the results. The 10-20mm lens did not capture the wide open spaces the way I had imagined. Since then I have photographed the dunes with a
70-300mm or a 100-400mm lens. By using a telephoto lens you are better able to capture abstracts and special shapes which create beautiful graphic-style images. I always set my aperture to F14 and my ISO stays between 100 and 400. In the dunes my camera is mostly handheld. Our dunes have plenty of mica dust so don’t be alarmed when you get back and notice what looks like lots of blown-out white pixels in your shot – they are just sparkles. Often these enhance an image but if they do not work for your image it is simple to remove them in Photoshop. Late afternoon is when the magic happens.
“With my photographs, which I share on social media, I want to portray a different view of Swakopmund in the media than the images I found online which depict the town as dated, old and grungy. Almost every article harps on about a history of war and colonial times. Swakop is struggling to establish a new character for itself as an African town. I started to share more up-to-date images of Swakopmund and its environs through my eyes. I use my experience of marketing and travel as a guide to what would appeal and attract attention.” In the past year Xenia exhibited at The Dome in Swakopmund and in Germany at an exhibition presented by the Deutsch-Namibische Gesellschaft as a showcase for Namibia. Xenia’s favourite photographic genre is landscape photography, followed closely by food photography
KEEPING IT SIMPLE The first thing I look for in a composition is the possibility of keeping the layout simple, clean and emotive. In each of these images I have used the key element of simplicity to compose an interesting and evocative image: • The pebbles may not at first glance appear simple, but the fact that the image is made up of pebbles only simplifies the image; the variety of colours and detail captures the imagination. • The soft tones and the layers of Brandberg in the background are simple and draw attention but they are balanced by the small area of detail in the foreground. • The simple sunlit background creates a strong contrast for the shape of the flamingos to create interest.
TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA SUMMER 2016/17
and then people photography. “I love landscapes because they are challenging: it is not easy to find unique and interesting ways to portray the jetty or Dune 45, for example. I look for the beauty, balance and emotive element in every scene. I step back and savour the moment. If I discover interesting elements or details, and if there is something that stirs emotion, I capture it. The creativity of the shot depends very much on what you are able to achieve by using your camera. I’ve captured some very beautiful shots on my old Blackberry phone, but generally I use my mid-range full-frame Canon camera, because it gives me the opportunity to be as creative as I want to be. If I just want to travel light and capture memories, my Panasonic Lumix is ideal for almost every situation.” “My best advice to those venturing into the world of photography is to buy the camera body which allows you to achieve the end resolution and the creativity you want. If you buy a DSLR, always buy the best quality lens you can. For me, the quality of the lens is more important than the body. My popular quote is that the best camera is always the one that you have with you.”
artistic effect I want to achieve and the best part for me is processing the photograph in Lightroom and then Photoshop to make sure that the end product is perfect, tasteful and leaps off the page begging to be eaten.” “The year ahead is looking really exciting as Georg and I are finally seeing one of our dreams come true. In July 2017 we will be opening our own gallery, right in the heart of Swakopmund. We have been fortunate enough to secure a shop in the Bonus Marktplatz, which is one of the historical gems being renovated by the Lighthouse Group. The Bonus MarktPlatz has a wonderful mix of tenants which will make it a central hub for both locals and tourists and therefore ideal for our gallery. More information will be provided closer to the time.” www.xeniaivanoff.com
“Food photography is probably the most challenging work that I do, but it is also the most rewarding. I personally am not a foodie at all, and that’s where Georg and I work so well together. He loves food: preparing it, styling it and getting the right light onto it. I love to choose the right lens to get the
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Waterhole Text and photographs Elzanne Erasmus
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was sitting at the waterhole at Halali one evening. This camp is by far one of my most favourite places to be when the African sun dips beyond the horizon. The sky is filled with bright purple and pink hues, the white dust from the famous pan catches fire as the microscopic particles grasp at the fading light. A certain silence seeps across the landscape, quiet but for a shuffle or the slightest human whisper somewhere nearby. The humans fade in the dusk and, as the sun sets, the houselights dim and the red curtain rises. All focus is on the ‘stage’ where a theatrical marvel is about to commence. This specific night seemed extra dark. There was no moon, and the slight chill from the departing winter made it seem even darker. In such darkness one can often feel lonely. But not on that night at the Halali waterhole. The darkness brought with it a certain pulse in the air. A flock of famous fowl descended on the edge of the waterhole in a flurry of wings and chirps and delight. It was time to drink and feast and be merry. Like an Italian family around a dinner table, they babbled and jibed and chattered away simultaneously. Then followed the unmistakable ‘crunch crunch crunch’ of twigs as largefooted, big-eared giants made their way through the nebrownii bushes toward the stage. With tusks in the air and in a straight line, they wound toward the water. Underfoot and between wrinkly grey legs, a youngster peers, never wandering too far from the realm of his mother’s protection. Their large bodies cast spectacular reflections in the water, backlit by the hue of pink, purple
TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA SUMMER 2016/17
and blue. The ripples in the water, caused by a dipping trunk, make their reflections dance, and the first scene of this phenomenal performance is underway. Without much of an interlude, an endangered gentleman steps from the wings. Fearless and proud he approaches centrestage, his sword raised high as he tests the current before bowing gracefully to drink. As the scene unfolds the wrinkly grey youngster tentatively departs the safety of his mother’s hold and starts to explore his surroundings. He is inquisitive and probes at this and that. Curiosity leads him over to the newly arrived gentleman. But the hunk is in no mood for childish delights and shoos the youngster away. Within a nanosecond the scene transforms as giant and gentleman delve into a dual-like dance. Maternal instincts kick in. Threats to her baby are not taken lightly. The stand-off electrifies the air. Neither backs down. Eventually they ease apart. As tensions dissipate, each slowly retreats and returns to its own flank of the stage. The youngster has long since found a next curiosity to poke at.
As the light dwindles, the scene changes and the predators approach the stage. Soft chuckles are a precursor to the arrival of a group of spotted rogues. They dance about in the edges of the light, yipping at each other as they approach the main podium. Titters and sniggers ensue, but are cut short abruptly at a dramatic sound cue. The low rumble of a jungle queen nearby has them exiting stage-left in a flash of ruffled spotted fur. With feline grace she glides across the stage and lowers herself to the water’s edge. Yellow eyes gleam as they reflect in the slight light. She is the main act, the lead role and her audience sits raptured, mouths agape as she commands their attention. Then she rises from her prone position and gracefully retreats back into the darkness. Silence falls. The lights dim and the curtain lowers. We take a deep breath and smile. Our smiles are our thunderous applause and our standing ovations. We’ll be back for tomorrow night’s performance. TNN
Namibia has some of the world’s most Namibia has some of the world’s most magnificent landscapes butmore... there’s more… magnificent landscapes but there’s
Namibia has some of the world’s most magnificent landscapes but there’s more… Namibia has some of the world’s most magnificent landscapes but there’s more…
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14/10/2016 3:40 PM
Magic IN THE NAMIB Photographs Coenie Snyman & Jaco Venter
amibia is home to dramatic sceneries, stunning vistas and endless horizons. From one corner of the country to the other, the topography and biodiversity transmute dramatically. From the wet wonderland of the Zambezi region, with its perennial river systems, to the large panoramic plains of the south that morph into canyons and mountain ranges, Namibia is an incredibly diverse and enigmatic land. Etosha, with its splendid white pan and hordes of wildlife, might be the jewel in the crown of Namibia, but the Namib Desert is its heart and soul. The endless sweeping dunes are unlike any other place on earth. You could spend weeks or months or years delving into and exploring this oldest desert on earth. Along your journeys you will most probably happen upon many of the 2 356 different species of fauna and flora that call this barren land home. You will witness spectacular
sunsets, windstorms and mercurial temperatures. You will find peace there, and beauty. And you will find magic, in this ancient living place.
SAFEGUARDING THE ADVENTURE Namibians and visitors alike are incredibly fortunate to be able to still venture into this special corner of the earth. With guided tours and self-drive safaris with companies that hold concessions to certain areas of the desert, the option of a desert exploration is an exciting prospect. The key to this privilege being retained, however, is the very specific and cautious way in which these explorations are undertaken. Namibia is a land open to and teeming with possibilities for the adventurous at heart. There are many corners waiting to be explored, but the key is to conserve the terrain and keep the adventure alive for future explorers.
LIFE WAS MEANT FOR GOOD FRIENDS AND GREAT ADVENTURES Eleven Cruisers stood in a row. Tour leader Volker was at the helm, and his right-hand man Johnny was in the sweeper vehicle at the back of the long line of Toyotas. Each carried fuel, water, equipment, food, drinks and two grown men. The supplies were stocked to keep the men moving, showering, camping, eating and drinking for five days... in the desert. The men started their engines in the quaint southern coastal town of Lüderitz and set off on their voyage into the heart of the Namib. Their travels led them north of the home of oysters and crayfish, toward Namibia’s famous ghost town, Kolmanskop. From here, with permits in hand, they ventured into a previously forbidden land, the Sperrgebiet Diamond Area 1. The Ministry of Mines and Energy strictly controls this access point. Once inside the concession area, the eleven vehicles and their fare passed by such points of interest as Charlottental, Agate Beach and Boats Bay. On the second day, the stamina and dexterities of the mediums (i.e. the fleet of Toyotas) were put to the test. Tall, looming dunes were their Nemesis. But they got by, with a proficient guide as a tutor, and a little help from their friends. Over radios, wisdoms were imparted and hints and hacks divulged. Dirkie’s attention to detailed explanations was surely
a saving grace. And each dune became a little easier, and the jargon more understandable, until even novices like Leeba knew how to successfully take on a crest and understood the meaning of a three-point turn. Though adrenalin surely rushed through their veins as the 4x4s dipped and weaved through and over the towering dunes, the Sand Sea and the living desert around them were by far the MVPs (Most Valuable Players). Volker, who many call a walking encyclopedia, laid emphasis on the nature and history of this charmed place, and their expedition included the smaller nuances of a sandy safari. From the dune belt to the beach, they surveyed resilient flora and cunning creatures, such as the jackals along the beach who claim territory over their private pods of seals.
A BILLION STAR HOTEL At night, campsites were erected within a protective den of dunes to escape the worst of the (often extreme) elements. With bottles of wine uncorked and dinner being readied, the men enjoyed each other’s tall tales (maybe even taller than the dunes) under a canopy of innumerable stars. The next morning the vehicles would be started up again and the campaign would continue north, leaving only their footprints behind at their makeshift camp. That evening’s wind will clear all traces
The Namib Sand Sea was, after much anticipation, declared a UNESCO natural world heritage site in June 2013. The proclaimed area includes a large part of the Namib Naukluft National Park, hosting popular tourist areas such as Sossusvlei and Sanwich Harbour, and stretches from the Kuiseb River southward to include 66% of the central Namib dune system. All in all, the proclaimed site covers an area of 30 777 km2.
10 WAYS TO BE A SMARTER AND MORE ENVIRONMENTALLY CONSCIOUS OFF-ROADER:
DID YOU KNOW? The collective group names of seals are either a pod, bob, harem, herd or rookery. For example: “Would you look at that massive bob of seals!”
of their visit. Every night’s campsite was unique, and so was every dune they took on. They continued floating over these lofty dunes, stopped at a few of the approximately one thousand shipwrecks dotting Namibia’s coastline and, with well-timed precision, navigated the narrowing stretch between the Atlantic and the Lange Wand (Tall Wall) before the tide could curb their throughway. They followed in each other’s tracks, and followed the directions of their guide, at every possible opportunity. They encouraged each other through thick sand and a probe from Simon for them to ’commit’ helped them up those steep inclines, all the way to their final destination of Walvis Bay. How lucky we are to be able to completely immerse ourselves in the splendour of Namibia. With adrenalin coursing through our veins and the beauty of the land warming our hearts, it is easy to believe in magic when you’re engrossed in a wonder such as the Namib Desert. TNN CYMOT Windhoek is home to the Greensport 4x4 Offroad Centre, which specialises in the fitment of 4x4 vehicles for any off-road need. Get kitted out for your own 4x4 adventure and stock up on camping gear while you’re there. Be completely self-sufficient on your next voyage into Namibia’s largely unexplored places!
MAIN BRANCH WINDHOEK
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1. Stay on the tracks – it takes nature a long time to remove the scars of new tracks that you leave behind. 2. Use your 4x4 – you prove nothing if you try to see how long you can push your car forward on a rough track by staying in 2×4. 3. Check your route – off-road courses often call for inspection so that you can decide on the best route ahead without straying from the existing path and getting stuck in tricky situations. 4. Slow down – the only terrain for which you really need speed is high dunes. Otherwise slow down, take your time and enjoy the environment you’re exploring. High speeds on gravel roads are one of the main causes of corrugation. 5. Use your gears – when heading down steep climbs, use your gears and not your brakes. Low range and a slow pace are the saving grace for inexperienced drivers who tend to overuse brakes. 6. The importance of water – remember where you are when you go off-roading in namibia. A dry desert country calls for hydration and your most important asset will be water if you experience a breakdown somewhere remote. 7. Tyre pressure – make sure that your tyre pressure is correct for the specific terrain you are on. Wrong pressure levels damage your tyres and the environment and often make for a very uncomfortable drive. 8. Seatbelts save lives – never be under the misconception that just because you are not on a main road you don’t have to wear your seatbelt. Cars roll and accidents happen off-road all too often in Namibia. 9. Handbrakes were made not to be broken – for applying some of the tips above you might need to leave your vehicle, often on an incline. Be sure to put on your handbrake instead of taking chances with a potential runaway. 10. Petrol or diesel: an age old dilemma – though the choice between a petrol or diesel vehicle is a personal preference and a decision you would have made long before hitting the dirt road, it is worth taking into account that in many African countries diesel is more readily available than petrol. You shouldn’t have a supply problem in most parts of Namibia, but taking extra fuel along is never a bad idea.
TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA SUMMER 2016/17
FIVE HUNDRED YEARS
of Purity Text Christie Keulder
his year marks the 500-year anniversary of the Reinheitsgebot, the German Beer Purity Law that guides and inspires our locally brewed beers to be made from only three ingredients: barley, hops and water. The current (Munich) version of the Reinheitsgebot was adopted on 23 April 1516 after the unification of Bavaria. Its purpose was to limit the ingredients used for brewing beer, set the price of beer, and make the breaking of the purity law a punishable offence. A translated version of the Reinheitsgebot reads as follows: We hereby proclaim and decree, by Authority of our Province, that henceforth in the Duchy of Bavaria, in the country as well as in the cities and marketplaces, the following rules apply to the sale of beer: From Michaelmas to Georgi, the price for one Mass [Bavarian Liter 1,069] or one Kopf [bowl-shaped container for fluids, not quite one Mass], is not to exceed one Pfennig Munich value, and From Georgi to Michaelmas, the Mass shall not be sold for more than two Pfennig of the same value, the Kopf not more than three Heller [Heller usually one-half Pfennig]. If this not be adhered to, the punishment stated below shall be administered. Should any person brew, or otherwise have, other beer than March beer, it is not to be sold any higher than one Pfennig per Mass. Furthermore, we wish to emphasise that in future in all cities, markets and in the country, the only ingredients used for the brewing of beer must be Barley, Hops and Water. Whosoever knowingly disregards or transgresses upon this ordinance shall be punished by the Court authorities' confiscating such barrels of beer, without fail. Should, however, an innkeeper in the country, city or markets buy two or three pails of beer (containing 60 Mass) and sell it again to the common peasantry, he alone shall be permitted to charge one Heller more for the Mass of the Kopf, than mentioned above. Furthermore, should there arise a scarcity and subsequent price increase of the barley (also considering that the times of harvest differ, due to location), we, the Bavarian Duchy, shall have the right to order curtailments for the good of all concerned. Given the artificial means that our manufactured-food system has employed to seek greater profit, I think it a splendid idea to remain committed to natural purity in any type of food, brewing included. Just consider this ancient recipe for mead (a fermented wine of honey, water and sometimes fruits): Take rainwater kept for several years, and mix a sextarius [546 milliliters] of this water with a [Roman] pound [328.9 grams] of honey. For a weaker mead, mix a sextarius of water
with nine ounces [246.6 milliliters] of honey. The whole is exposed to the sun for 40 days, and then left on a shelf near the fire. If you have no rain water, then boil spring water. Originally the Reinheitsgebot was introduced, at least partially, to prevent brewers from competing with bakers over the price of wheat and rye. By restricting brewers to use barley, the relevant authorities tried to keep wheat and rye bread prices at affordable levels. Bavaria insisted on the adoption of its beer regulations as a precondition for the unification of Germany in 1871. This provoked a strong reaction from brewers in Northern Germany who used different ingredients in their spice and fruit beers. The Bavarian laws favoured ’bottom-fermented’ beers such pilsners and lagers over ’top-fermented’ beers such as ales, and many regional beer varieties did not survive the implementation of the Reinheitsgebot which became binding for Northern Germany in 1906. In 1952 the Reinheitsgebot was written into the Biersteuergesetz (beer tax laws) and in 1987 in a case presented by French brewers, a European court forced Germany to change its laws to allow free trade within Europe where the purity laws were seen as a form of German protectionism. After the Brandenburg Beer War – a legal dispute of nearly a decade over whether or not a black beer could legally be labled Bier, the purity laws were relaxed and adapted in 1993 to include top-fermented beers and to allow yeast for bottom-fermented beers. As with any legislation the German beer laws are ever evolving and the laws have been changed to accommodate more types of beer and different techniques of brewing. The breweries that today brew according to the original Reinheitsgebot do so voluntarily, and their commitment to purity and choice of ingredients is widely advertised. Our own Namibia Breweries Limited (NBL) is one of only a few breweries outside Germany that remain committed to brewing according to the original purity laws of 1516. To this we should lift a glass of Namibia’s finest brew and say: “Prost!” After all, none of us will be around for the next 500 years’ celebration. Cooking with beer is as old as beer itself. As an ingredient beer is both a liquid and a flavour. For this week, I slow-braised a whole neck of lamb in our local Weizenbier, Camelthorn. Best thing about this dish? It allows you at least three hours to savour your key ingredient, and I am not referring to the meat. Cheers! TNN
TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA SUMMER 2016/17
8 Bessemer Street, Southern Industrial Area, Windhoek
Vast, contrasting and unpredictable Namibia is a country of primeval and unspoilt beauty: SWA Safaris can introduce you to its spectacular variety of landscapes, rich treasures of wildlife and unique flora. Enjoy the hospitality and friendliness of the Namibian people. Let SWA Safaris, one of the most experienced tour operators in Namibia, that has been in operation since 1954, make your stay an unforgettable one.
Tel +264 (0)61 22 1193/ 23 7567 firstname.lastname@example.org www.swasafaris.com
A luxurious Private Nature Reserve and Wellness village, nestled on a hilltop and surrounded by the majestic beauty of the mountains. Sweeping views onto an awesome Namibian landscape. Only 25 minutes from Windhoek, the capital city of Namibia and 50 minutes from the international airport. Tranquillity and serenity on a Wildlife Sanctuary with wide open spaces.
Tel +264 61 22 4909 • Fax +264 61 22 4924 email@example.com • www.gocheganas.com
• Situated in the beautiful coastal town Swakopmund • Built in and around the restored Old Station Building dating back to 1901 • This 4-star hotel offers 90 spacious rooms • Recreational facilities include a swimming pool, a gymnasium and casino, 2 Cinemas with 3D, Hair Salon & Spa • Two-minute’s walk from city centre • Day trips to the desert as well as dolphin cruises and scenic flights can be arranged.
“There is still only one place to stay in Windhoek. Windhoek Country Club Resort - Your resort in the city” • Standard Rooms (wheel chair accessible) • Luxury Suites • Restaurant • Casino • Bars
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TRAVEL NEWS NAMIBIA SUMMER 2016/17
Bismark St. 1, Swakopmund, Namibia Tel: +264 64 400 331 • Fax: +264 64 405 850 firstname.lastname@example.org • www.schweizerhaus.net
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• Personal service • One stop – shop (Accommodation, vehicle hire and activity bookings) • Specialize both in self –drive & guided Safaris • Cater for all: from family travel, filming crew, bird watchers etc. • Taste of African original • No hidden costs
ETOSHA HEIGHTS TOURISM +264 67 312 521 • email@example.com • www.etoshatourism.com
Wolwedans is more than a mere collection of camps. Itâ€™s a collection of dreams. Its ethos lies in setting an example in sustainability and continually fulfilling its commitment to the conservation of the NamibRand Nature Reserve.
...simply out of this world
Photo © Gerhard Thirion
Namibia. Wild at heart.
An untamed wilderness that will always leave you spoilt for choice. Mother Nature is waiting for you.
NAMIBIA – Head office C/O Haddy & Sam Nujoma Drive Private Bag 13244, Windhoek Tel: +264 61 290 6000 Fax: +264 61 25 4848 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.namibiatourism.com.na
GERMANY Schillerstrasse 42 – 44, D – 60313 Frankfurt am Main, Tel: +49 69 1337 360 Fax: +49 69 1337 3615 Email: email@example.com www.namibia-tourism.com
SOUTH AFRICA Cape Town Ground floor, The Pinnacle Burg Street, P O. Box 739 Tel: +27 21 422 3298 Fax: +27 21 422 5132 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
In the summer issue of Travel News Namibia we share the passion we have for this amazing land! We delve into the nuances of rhino conservati...