Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Dinosaur Tracks...

...Occur on the Guest farm Otjihaenamaparero

The tracks occur in sandstones of the 190 million years old Etjo Formation. The sands formed these sandstones accumulated under increasingly arid conditions as wind blown dunes similar to the Namib Desert today.
Numerous reptiles lived in the interdune areas, but as the climate became drier, these animals were forced to concentrate near waterholes, small lakes and rivers fed by occasional rainfalls and thunderstorms. Inevitably, their feet left imprints in the wet sediment around the water. Later these imprints were covered by other layers of wind blown sand, and were preserved as trace fossils when the sand solidified into rock due to the pressure that built up as they were buried deeper and deeper.

At Otjihaenamaparero, two crossing tracks consist of more than 30 imprints with a size of approximately 45 by 35 cm. The longer tracks can be followed for about 28 meters. There is a distance of some 70 to 90 cm between individual imprints as well as some tracks comprising smaller imprints of about 7 cm length and spaced about 28 to 33 cm apart (Gührich, 1926).

All tracks show the form of a three toed, clawed foot very well, and from their arrangement it can be deducted that they were made by the hind feet of a bipedal animal.
Unfortunately, no body fossils of creatures that could be responsible for the tracks have been found in the area so far, and one can therefore only use comparison with other sites for identification.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Lüderitz Crayfish Festival 2013

The colourful fishing town of Lüderitz is getting ready to hold the annual Crayfish Festival from 30th May to 1st June 2013 - don't miss out!
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What to do at the festival

Take a walk around the festival stalls, taste-testing the different crayfish recipes and sauces of our local “masterchefs”, watch them battle it out in a crayfish cooking competition and browse the many stalls of Namibian made products. Take in the harbour views, mix with the friendly locals and enjoy a wonderful ambience of fabulous smells, music & sunshine. Watch naval & police band marches and even a music festival at the local stadium.

The history of the festival  

The Lüderitz community decided to host an annual Crayfish Festival to celebrate the town’s unique sea-life, multi-cultural roots, rich maritime history, and of course, superior quality crayfish. The festival brings together people from Lüderitz, Namibia and the world, and the proceeds of the event go to help the various charities that benefit the less advantaged. 

 When: 30th  May – 1st  June 2013
Where:  Lüderitz Waterfront, Lüderitz, South West Coast, Namibia

What are crayfish?  
Well, to be specific, what we call “crayfish” here in Namibia are actually "West Coast Rock Lobster" (Jasus lalandii). The Crayfish Festival is a gastronomical feast of lobsters – if you’ve eaten them before, you’ll know why we go crazy for the firm and slightly sweet lobster tails. Steam them with a little lemon butter, or grill them on the braai (barbeque) and eat them fresh off the flames. Delicious! You might also hear the locals talking about “kreef” which is the Afrikaans word for crayfish. 

What makes Lüderitz crayfish special?  
It's not just marketing hype – the extreme conditions in the Atlantic ocean off the coast of Namibia means these Lüderitz crayfish have the upper hand. The strong South Atlantic winds create an upwelling in the ocean that makes for the perfect environment for nutrients and micro-organisms to thrive. In fact, it is estimated that the annual new production of Phytoplankton and Zooplankton in the Benguela system is 30 to 65 times more productive per unit area than the global ocean average.   

Where to eat Lüderitz crayfish  
The festival stalls will be serving up a host of different crayfish delights. But for those looking for a sit-down crayfish meal with fine South African sparkling wine or French Champagne, then try lunch at the Penguin Restaurant at the Lüderitz Nest Hotel.   
Where to stay  
The Crayfish Festival is a very busy time for the fishing town, so if you haven’t already organised accommodation, be sure to book as soon as you can. Click here to find accommodation in Lüderitz.

What to do around Lüderitz

Taste some fresh Namibian oysters in between all the crayfish; they’re some of the tastiest in the world!
Take a walk around the town to see the early 20th Century German Art Nouveau buildings.
Get out on the ocean with a Catamaran Marine Tour.
Visit the ghost town of Kolmanskop (only 10kms from Lüderitz) for a date with history and some incredible photo opportunities.
Explore the Sperrgebiet National Park, one of Namibia’s newest National Parks that was closed to the public for nearly a century.
Take a marine cruise from the waterfront to see Dias Point, outlying islands with Namibia’s largest colony of African Penguins (Halifax Island), Heaviside Dolphins, Cape Fur Seals (Seal Island) and sometimes whales. 
Desert adventure activities are available including; 4x4 Guided and 4x4 self-drive tours into the vast Namib Naukluft Park to the north and the Tsau //Khaeb (Sperrgebiet National Park) to the south.
Lüderitz is also home to the world’s premier kite and wind surfing speed sailing event, the Lüderitz Speed Challenge, which takes place every year between November to December.     

The Beauty of Botswana in Pictures

Travel Botswana to discover Africa's best-kept secret. Your Botswana holidays may include: the Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park. On your Botswana holidays visit the Kalahari desert, the Makgadikgadi Pans, Nxai Pan National Park, Moremi Game Reserve or the Tsodilo Hills to discover Botswana's diversity. Botswana is packed with roadless wilderness, wildlife, Maun accommodation,
Botswana Safari and many other natural gems. Let the beauty of Botswana - with Chobe safari and the Okavango Delta as it's crown jewels - astonish you, it may well become your favorite destination in Africa.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Brandberg - Namibia

Declared as National Monument on 15.06.1951 by the Historical Monuments Commission for South West Africa (HMC).

The Brandberg is one of the Cretaceous anorogenic complexes of northwestern Namibia, and from a spacecraft, it is one of the most eye-catching circular features visible on Earth. The isolated massif of granite, with approximate dimensions of 26 by 21 km, rises more than 2000 m above the surrounding peneplain of the Namib Desert. The edges of the roughly cupola-shaped plutonic body are dissected by numerous gorges, which penetrate the central part of the complex to form a radial drainage system. The summit, named Königstein, at 2573 m above sea level is the highest elevation in Namibia. The reddish colour of the weathered granite surfaces led to its German name “burning mountain” as well as its original Damara name “Doreb” meaning a pile of ash. The Brandberg is a National Monument, and the main access is via the road from Uis leading to the “White Lady” rock painting in the Tsisab Gorge.

Brief History:

About 130 million years ago volcanic activity pushed through the earth’s crust causing an up-doming of the overlaying rocks, the eventual breakthrough and resultant collapse caused the formation, following 100 million years over 1000m of the mountain and its surroundings eroded away leaving only the granite core, the brandberg mountain. Remnants of the lava plateau can still be seen. The name describes the lighting effect of the sunrise and sunset on the mountain. The archaeology of the Brandberg has been the subject of serious research for more than eighty years.

 Detailed surveys of the rock art have recorded more than 1000 sites, some with a hundred or more individual paintings. Although the most famous site, the Maack or “White Lady” Shelter, has given rise to several fanciful interpretations, systematic excavations in other parts of the mountain show that the area was inhabited by hunter-gatherer communities until the first appearance of nomadic livestock farming about 1000 years ago. Small bands of hunters evidently lived in the upper parts of the mountain during the dry season when little water or food could be obtained in the surrounding desert. The structural geology of the mountain, with its well-developed sheet joints, provides many small aquifers and where these emerge, rock painting sites are never far away. In the rock art of Brandberg, human figures comprise more than 40% of the images and among the many animal species depicted giraffe are often the most numerous.
Few of the animals featured in the paintings are represented in bones recovered from archaeological excavations. Indeed, very few of the species in the paintings actually occur on the mountain itself which is far too rugged for most of them to ascend. This and other evidence, such as artifacts of crystalline quartz, marine shells and some metal objects, suggests that the people who inhabited the Brandberg also inhabited a far wider area. A clearer pattern of movement arose with the development of pastoralism when stock camps were established at remote waterholes and the herds were pastured far into the Namib Desert after the summer rain. In the dry season, however, pastoral communities would retreat to the upper Brandberg with its reliable waterholes and nutritious pastures, usually camping in the same places as their hunter-gatherer predecessors.

10 Facts About Starfish

Starfish (sea stars) are beautiful animals that can be a variety of colors, shapes and sizes, although all resemble a star. While some appear smooth, they all have spines covering their upper surface and a soft underside. If you gently turn over a live sea star, you'll see its tube feet wiggling back at you. These iconic marine animals are fascinating creatures. Learn more about them below.
Sea stars are not fish.Although sea stars live underwater and are commonly called "starfish," they are not fish. They do not have gills, scales, or fins like fish do and they move quite differently from fish. While fish propel themselves with their tails, sea stars have tiny tube feet to help them move along (see more on that below).

Sea stars are Echinoderms.
Sea stars belong to the Phylum Echinodermata. That means they are related to sand dollars (yes, they are a real animal), sea urchins, and sea cucumbers. All echinoderms have five-point radial symmetry, which means that their body plan has five sections (or multiples thereof) arranged around a central disk. Next time you're in a beach-themed store, see if you can find a dried sea star, sand dollar and sea urchin and find the 5 sections in each.
There are thousands of sea star species.
There are about 2,000 species of sea stars. Some live in the intertidal zone, some in deep water, some in tropical areas, some in cold water.
Not all sea stars have 5 arms.While the five-armed varieties of sea star are the most well known, not all sea stars have 5 arms. Some have many more. Take the sun star for instance, which has up to 40 arms!

Sea stars can regenerate a lost arm.Amazingly, sea stars can regenerate lost arms. This is useful if the sea star is threatened by a predator - it can drop an arm, get away and grow a new arm. Sea stars house most of their vital organs in their arms, so some can even regenerate an entirely new sea star from just one arm and a portion of the star's central disc. It won't happen too quickly, though. It takes about a year for an arm to grow back.

Sea stars are protected by armor.Depending on the species, a sea star's skin may feel leathery, or slightly prickly. Sea stars have a tough covering on their upper side, which is made up of plates of calcium carbonate with tiny spines on their surface. A sea star's spines are used for protection from predators, which include birds, fish and sea otters.

Sea stars do not have blood.Instead of blood, sea stars have a water vascular system, in which the sea star pumps sea water through its sieve plate, or madreporite, into its tube feet to extend them. Muscles within the tube feet retract them.

Sea stars move using their tube feet.Sea stars move using hundreds of tube feet, which are located on their underside. The tube feet are filled with sea water, which the sea star brings in through the sieve plate, or madreporite, on its top side. Sea stars can move more quickly than you might expect. If you ever get a chance, try visiting a tide pool or aquarium and take a moment to watch a sea star moving around. The sea star's tube feet also help the sea star hold its prey, which includes bivalves like clams and mussels.

Sea stars eat with their stomachs inside-out.Speaking of prey, sea stars have a rather unique way of eating theirs. A sea star's mouth is on its underside. They prey on bivalves like mussels and clams, as well as small fish, snails, and barnacles. If you've ever tried to pry the shell of a clam or mussel open, you know how difficult it is. Sea stars wrap their arms around the animal's shell and pull it open just enough. And then it does something we could never imagine - it pushes its stomach through its mouth and into the bivalve's shell. It then digests the animal and slides its stomach back into its own body. This unique feeding mechanism allows the sea star to eat larger prey than it would otherwise be able to fit into its tiny mouth.

Sea stars have eyes.While they can't see as well as we do, sea stars have an eye spot at the end of each arm. This is a very simple eye that looks like a red spot. The eye doesn't see much detail, but can sense light and dark.

Lion's Mane Jellyfish (Cyanea capillata)

The lion's mane jellyfish (Cyanea capillata) is the world's largest jellyfish
- their bells can be over 8 feet across. They have a mass of thin tentacles that resemble a lion's mane, which is where their name originates. Reports of tentacle size in lion's mane jellyfish vary from 30 feet to 120 feet - either way, their tentacles extend a long way, and one should give them a very wide berth. This jellyfish also has lots of tentacles - it has 8 groups of them, with 70-150 tentacles in each group.

The color of the lion's mane jellyfish changes as it grows. Small jellyfish under 5 inches in bell size are pink and yellow. Between 5-18 inches in size, the jellyfish is reddish to yellowish-brown, and as they grow past 18 inches, they become a darker reddish brown. Like other jellyfish, they have a short lifespan, so all these color changes may happen in a period of about one year.

Encountering a lion's mane jellyfish probably won't be lethal, but it won't be fun, either. A lion's mane jellyfish sting usually results in pain and redness in the area of the sting. The sticky tentacles of a lion's mane jellyfish can sting even when the jellyfish is dead, so give lion's mane jellyfish on the beach a wide berth. In 2010, a lion's mane jellyfish washed ashore in Rye, NH, where it stung 50-100 unsuspecting bathers.

Oshika, Namibia Meteorite Fall 09MAY2013

Oshika, Namibia Meteorite Fall 09MAY2013
Onesi, Omusati, Namibia Location Map
C 2013 LunarMeteoriteHunter / Google Earth

Oshika, Namibia Meteorite Fall 09MAY2013
Source- New Era
Meteorite strikes mahangu field
"A piece of meteorite, the of a size of a small ball or two human fists put together made such an impact that people within a radius of over 200km were able to hear the explosive impact, feel the resulting tremor and observe the blinding light that followed as it landed". ...more-

'UFO' sparks bomb fears in northern village
"Oshika - a remote village in the Onesi area of the Omusati Region - was gripped by fear of bombs when an object believed to be a meteorite fell there in the early hours of yesterday.
The incident had, according to worried eyewitnesses, all the hallmarks of a military attack - a sound similar to that of a warplane, a loud explosion and a suspicious landing time."...

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Wild Horses of The Namib Desert

Fighting for a life in freedom...

They hold an irresistible fascination: the Wild Horses of the Namib in south-western Namibia. For centuries their origin was shrouded in mystery. Their habitat, the barren plains around Garub on the eastern fringe of the Namib Desert, is no paradise; nevertheless they have managed to adapt to the harsh conditions. Their forebears, once in the service of man, gained freedom for themselves: a life in the vastness of the Namib, away from human civilization, according to the rules of their own horse society. Perhaps this is the reason for the fascination of thousands of visitors every year. Plans for moving the herd to farms have been discarded by now: it has been decided that also in future the horses’ place is in Namib Naukluft Park.
With the support of the Ministry for the Environment the numbers and behaviour of the Wild Horses have been scientifically documented since December 1993. Numbers fluctuate according to the quantity and quality of available grazing. After the drought in 1992 and the resulting drive to catch the horses, their number increased from 110 (1993) to 149 (1997). It dropped to 89 during the drought of 1998/99, but had risen to 147 again by April 2005. In order to maintain the genetic diversity the number should not drop below 100. According to estimates the area can support a maximum of 160 horses.

The adaptation of the Namib’s Wild Horses to their habitat is not genetically evident. Reports about extraordinary resilience may safely be relegated to the realm of myth as well: many of the animals which were caught during the drought of 1992 and taken to farms succumbed to horse-sickness and other ailments. Adaptation can rather be seen in their behaviour: patterns of feeding and drinking, resting and playing match available grazing and prevailing temperatures.
 During dry conditions, when grazing becomes scarce, the horses basically have to ‘work’ for the quantity of nutrients they need. Then they cover vast distances, feed wherever possible and rarely play. Visits to the drinking trough are put off for as long as possible. In contrast to domestic horses, thirst causes them very little stress. During the hot summer months (November to March) they come to drink at average intervals of 30 hours, while during the cool winter months (May to September) intervals average as much as 72 hours.

When good rains have brought forth fresh grass and numerous flowers the Wild Horses adopt a ‘leisure mode’: they feed at night, and as there is no need to cover vast distances to get their fill they remain close to the drinking trough for longer periods of time. Up to 80 percent of the herd gathers there. They drink every day, regardless of temperatures, and play and rest a lot. Their leisure time offers the best opportunity, of course, for watching them and taking pictures...
Apart from grass the Wild Horses also eat their own dry dung. This does not mean that they are desperate - it is natural behaviour, also seen in domestic horses if they have access to dry dung. The dung of the Wild Horses contains almost three times more fat (1.99 percent) than the area’s dry grass (Stipagrostis obtusa – 0.7 percent) and almost twice as much protein (6.1 instead of 3.1 percent).

Since horses are no ruminants, eating dung is the only way to absorb nutrients which have been excreted undigested and in concentrated form. The dung, however, is merely a supplement; less than 1 kg of dung is eaten for every 7 kg of grass. Thus there is no danger of harmful substances accumulating in the horse’s system.

Hunting Safaris VS Photographic Safaris

Hunting safaris and photographic safaris are two totally separate operations and cannot be mixed. Someone on a photographic safari does not want to bump into a hunter who is bent on killing an elephant caught by the photographer’s lens. Hearing gun shots in the distance is not a comforting feeling for someone hiking through the bush. Also, animals need to know when they are safe. In Zambia we have game management areas (for hunting) next to national parks. The animals know that they are generally safe in the national park. You can watch them cross a road just to move from game management areas into the park when they see a vehicle approaching!

There was a report in the media that the Namibia Minister of Environment wants to award hunting concessions in national parks. The parks are Bwabwata National Park, Waterberg Plateau, Daan Viljoen, Von Bach Resort, and Namib-Nauklauft Park. Hunting concessions are also being given in the Kavango region.

Bwabwata National Park is a multi-use park where people live as well as the animals. It is a large park, and hunting concessions can be in places where photographic safaris do not take place. Hunting has been going on there for some years already. Waterberg Plateau is just over 400 km² (about the same size as Kasanka in Zambia). It is a smallish park with stunning scenery where black and white rhino were introduced along with other animals for their protection. It is to the east of Otjiwarongo.

Daan Viljoen Game Reserve is about 25 km north of Windhoek and is popular for hiking. Again it is a smallish park of around 400 km². The camp has recently been renovated and welcomes visitors in chalets and camping. Von Bach Recreation Resort is a mere 43 km² and attracts visitors for water sports and angling. Namib-Naukluft Park is an enormous park – mostly desert. It is just under 50,000 km² and home to black rhino, gemsbok, Hartmann’s zebra, giraffe, springbok, brown hyena, and leopard. This is where the diamonds and uranium are.

Mangetti National Park was a bit of a research nightmare, because it wasn’t listed on many tourist websites. It is about 400 km² and was proclaimed a park in 2008. It used to be a breeding camp for endangered animals like rhino. From reports on the web, it seems that it is not open to the public as yet. According to the report on hunting concessions in The Namibian: The species to be hunted include elephant, leopard, roan, spotted hyaena, blue wildebeest, duiker, steenbok, buffalo, hippopotamus, crocodile, sable, lechwe, eland, giraffe, Hartman zebra, kudu, impala, eland, warthog, oryx, and klipspringer.

According to the ministry, trophy hunting removes mostly old, post-reproductive animals or single males, which are usually in excess in natural populations. Controlled hunting is thus viewed as sustainable use of wildlife populations.

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Himba People

The Himba are semi-nomadic pastoralists who live in Kaokoland which is in the Northwest of Namibia. The area is very rugged, dry, remote and mountainous. The Himba live by herding sheep, goats and some cattle and they move location several times a year to graze their livestock. The Himba are descendents of the Herero and still speak the same language. Their houses are just simple cone-shaped structures made with saplings covered in mud and dung. The Himba maintain their traditional beliefs including ancestor worship and rituals concerning sacred fire (okoruwo) which is considered an important link between the living and the dead.

The Himba, their skins rubbed with red ochre, have the appearance of having been forgotten by the rest of the world, but this is only as a result of their extreme isolation and conservative way of life. They derive originally from the Herero nation, collecting in the mountainous regions of Kaokoland. Long spells of drought forced them to live off the land, collecting wild fruit and digging out roots. They then fell victim to the marauding Nama who had settled at Sesfontein. The Nama raided the majority of the little livestock that remained and most of the Himba fled across the border into Angola. The Himba in later years, hearing that the war between German forces and the Herero nation had ended, moved back into Kaokoland where they remain today.  

Many of the younger generation have accepted some of the changes and are being educated in the Namibian national system, and will in time, abandon many of their older customs and traditions. However, most of the older generation still cling to their traditions and when their children return from school or visits to town, strongly encourage them to dress or undress, according to traditional style, and to live like a true Himba. 
Visiting the Himba is possible through a number of tours, but this should be undertaken with sensitivity and respect for their traditions and lifestyle.