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Namibia more rhino

Waterberg Plateau, Cheetahs, sunsets

26th September Waterberg/ Otjiwarongo

We left Mushara after breakfast and headed down the C38 back towards Windhoek. This was the only road we were ever stopped by police to check the car details (as is quite common with rental cars it was registered in South Africa, so we had to prove it was legally imported).
We wanted to visit the Cheetah Conservation Centre, but when we tried the GPS it took us down a tiny red dusty road and tried to insist we drive through locked gates and through trackless bush to get there. Eventually we headed back to the main road and luckily a police check (for lorries) gave us the opportunity to ask for directions. At Otjiwarongo we turned left and had to go through a gate. We travelled along time down an almost empty track, passing the main dump, through featureless plain with a LOT of goats. After 40ish km we went through another gate and a shiny visitors centre was ahead. Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) https://cheetah.org 1 hr 15 mins from the Lodge, is the world’s leading organisation dedicated to saving the Cheetah in the wild and has a set of integrated programs aimed at addressing the principal threats to the Cheetah. The natural habitat of the Cheetah has shrunk dramatically and the fastest terrestrial animal on the planet has become a highly endangered species. With 2,500 animals, Namibia boasts the largest Cheetah Population on earth. N$ 500 pp Cheetah Feeding; meet residents who cannot be released into the wild. We were a bit early for the feeding time, so we enjoyed a light meal and drink in their Cheetah’s Café, surrounded by a variety of pretty birds. A large coach of French tourists (with interpreter) turned up, but we still enjoyed the talk (in English). Naturally we sponsored a cheetah, and naturally we chose “Freya”. By the time we’d finished it was mid afternoon, so we drove back to Frans Indongo Lodge and checked in. Beautiful, and large chalets with a lovely view and a nice viewing platform for their waterhole.
Pririt Batis (Batis pririt) inhabit semi-arid woodland and along wooded watercourses singly, in pairs or small family groups. 'Batis parliaments' are formed when a number of individuals of the same sex form, calling excitedly, 'wing-frapping' and bill-snapping. They live from Etosha to Fish River Canyon/ Orange River, foraging in trees and hawking flying insects. The plumage is mainly grey and white and black. A cup shaped nest is built by both sexes of fine grass is bound with spider web.
Crimson-Breasted Shrikes (Laniarius atrococcineus) are very active and agile birds, found singly or in terrestrial pairs in Kalahari thornveld, Acacia savannah and dry scrubland with some clusters of small trees. Roosting on the mid to lower branches is preferred, especially on a sickle-bush. Laniarius is Latin for 'shrike-like thrush'. Their back, wings, tail, top and sides of head jet black, but have a bright crimson breast. They live on the Namibian escarpment east to Botswana, especially in the Kalahari Desert and Etosha. The forage on the ground, in tree trunks and in foliage for ants, beetles, caterpillars and small fruits.
Acacia Pied Barbet (Tricholaema leucomelas) are not the most sociable of birds, staying singly or in pairs. They prefer a semi-arid savannah with Acacia trees, gardens, orchards and other grassland that has been invaded by alien trees. Small predominately black and white barbets with 1 'tooth' on the upper mandible, they have a loud, sharp call. Tricholaema is the Greek word for 'throat hair', leucomelas is Latin for white and black. They are very common throughout Namibia, feeding mainly on fruit; mistletoe and fig are a favourite. Like the yellow-fronted tinkerbird they wipe regurgitated seeds that stick on their beaks on a nearby branch. Solitary nesters in dead stems of softwood trees, they are often seen in Quiver trees, umbrella thorn and sweet thorn.
White-Browed Sparrow Weavers (Plocepasser mahali) can be found in a number of savannah type habitats which includes mopane, forest, thornbush, as well as mixed tree and shrub and woodland in groups of up to 10. Plocepasser is a combination of Placeus 'weavers' + Passer ‘sparrows'. Favoured food is termites, ants, beetles, crickets and bugs. This medium-sized sparrow-like weaver with characteristic head stripes and a slender bill can have spotted or plain upper breast, brown wings and a white rump. Nests are made from grass stems, tunnel shaped with an entrance at each end or just the one way in.
Frans Indongo Lodge is situated in the heart of a 120 farm in the bush savannah. Only a small part of the farm is still used for agriculture. The focus now is on caring for the game. All of the chalets at Frans Indongo Lodge are modelled on traditional Ovambo Homesteads, giving the feeling of warmth and security of a home right in the middle of the African Bush veld and are equipped with their own bathroom, air conditioning, fridge, hairdryer, telephone, television, and an electric kettle for tea and coffee. The terrace is a perfect place to quench your thirst or watch the game coming to drink at the waterhole. Its wooden flooring and railings blend into the natural environment, and as it borders directly on the lodge's game area. The large wooden verandah at the bar, and the small observation tower are both fabulous places for watching the sunset and for observing the spot-lit waterhole. Guests can take a dip, sunbathe, or relax in and around the large swimming pool, complete with shady umbrella's and sun loungers. The gourmet kitchen can serve up a variety of venison dishes, served with fresh farm vegetables and salads, seasoned with aromatic ingredients, grown in their very own herb garden. A game drive in an open off-road vehicle offers plenty of opportunity to watch the animals and take pictures. Those who like to go exploring on foot, have three trails of differing lengths to choose from. Quite often antelope will cross your path. The effort of climbing the hilltop is rewarded with wonderful panoramic views of the vast bush savannah plains right across to Waterberg. http://www.indongolodge.com
Through the Savannah Bushveld. Frans Indongo Lodge in the heart of Savannah on a 120 km² farm, hosts a range of Game. Apart from Gemsbok, Zebra, Kudu and Springbok there are rarer species like Eland, Sable, Roan Antelope, Impala, and Black Wildebeest. This 2-hr Game Drive, in an open off-road vehicle, allows for photos in the heart of Namibian Bush Feld. N$ 390pp sundowner trip.
Trails: There are three unique foot trails, with different lengths. Several hilltops are available on the foot trails, giving an amazing panoramic view of the vast Bush Savannah Plains right across to Waterberg. For the range of vegetation, typical trees and shrubs a botanist has numbered many typical trees and shrubs ‘Pocket List of Southern African Indigenous Trees’.
We booked the sundowner (partly because they have rare white rhino in the park and we were hopeful we’d see them) and decided to watch the waterhole whilst we waited. Particularly interesting was seeing the mock (and not so mock) fights between the male waterbuck.
Waterbuck (Kobus ellipsiprymnus) is a large antelope and as the name suggests, it is associated with water. They will even take up residence in areas where only artificial water supplies, such as boreholes and pumps, have been installed; only leaving if the water is shut off. Although their attraction to water is evident, they are also lured by good quality grasses, including buffalo grass. Waterbuck are gregarious and occur in small herds of 6 -12. Territorial bulls rule over groups of females. Waterbuck occur in eastern Zambezi Region and farmland in north-central Namibia.
Sable (Hippotragus niger) are less robustly built than their close relatives the roan. It is a horse-like antelope with a long mane, easily identified by distinctive swept-back horns. They are a savannah woodland species, dependent on cover and the availability of water. They prefer open woodland or grassland with medium to high stands of grass and avoid a high density of trees. Sable are gregarious and herds of 20-30 are common, with larger temporary aggregations of up to about 200. They may fall prey to lion, but most predators attack with caution. Sable have also been introduced into Waterberg Plateau Park and Dolomite Camp in Etosha National Park. Males are jet black (hence the name) with a white facial pattern and underbelly. Younger females are chestnut in colour with thinner and shorter horns. Sable are seasonal breeders and females give birth to a single calf. Adult males stand about 135cm and weigh 180-270kg, females are more slender. The curved horns can measure up to 1m.
We set off at 4 exactly on the Sundowner, and drove next door into Waterberg Plateau. The termite mounds here are especially impressive, several metres high and apparently over 500 years (maybe a 1000) old. The broken ones had been destroyed by aardvark, and become homes for other creatures, such as snakes. We saw a variety of animals, and some rare antelope not seen elsewhere in Namibia, such as the Grysbok (a female marking her territory, soon joined by her mate).
Then, the famous rhino, a family group of 4 (1 male, 2 females and a young one). We approached cautiously because they are easily spooked by noise (having appalling eyesight meant noise and smell are their primary senses). When spooked they will either run or charge, and we didn’t want either!
Sharpe’s Grysbok (Raphicerus sharpei) is a secretive little animal, living alone or in mother and offspring combinations. This makes them difficult to observe and together with the colouration, they can easily be lost in a sea of bushes. Scent glands are on both hind and forefeet; a feature used for communication. Old aardvark holes have been used as places of refuge in times of danger. They live in Nkasa Rupara Park, but have recently been introduced to Waterberg. Very rare. They browse on leaves and young shoots of bushes and shrubs, but also eat flowers and fruit when available. A rather small creature, they are known to sneak into farmland at night and help themselves to cultivated crops. A rich red-brown coat with white hairs and buff-white underparts, neck and insides of the leg. Adult males stand around 0.5m and have horns 6-10cm in length.
Red-Crested Korhaan (Lophotis ruficrista) are dependent on a woodland type habitat in dry country with sandy soils. They are solitary birds that have a characteristic drinking position; standing up to suck the water into their mouth and then raising the head to swallow. Ruficrista is the Latin word for 'red crest’. Distribution: North and central Namibia especially Etosha, Kalahari Desert, exc Namib Desert. It walks and pecks close to the ground for insects such as termites, beetles, grasshoppers and ants, centipedes and spiders. Quite a large bird, it weighs 675g and has a wingspan of 90cm.
Common duiker (Sylvicapra grimmia) holds itself like a steenbok and is the only member of its (large) family outside forests. Generally grey, the duiker can be distinguished from other small antelopes by the black tuft of hair that sticks up between its horns. It occurs throughout Namibia, apart from the Namib Desert (except along dry riverbeds at times). Duikers tolerate most habitats except forest and very open country. They are opportunist feeders, taking fruit, seeds, leaves, crops, small reptiles and amphibians. The duiker gets its name from the way it zig-zags when disturbed, in a series of plunging jumps (Afrikaans duik = dive). Duikers are extremely territorial and a male will charge an intruding male which can end in battle with serious stab wounds. They are most active at dusk and dawn and into the night. Leopards are the main predator. The common duiker browses on a variety of shrubs and herbs, mainly leaves and flowers, digs for roots and tubers and nibbles at tree bark. They sometimes eat mopane caterpillars and even carrion, but rarely grass. The duiker is a greyish-yellow with a black line. Their ears are long and narrow and males have closely set horns with ridges. The tail is dark on top and white underneath. The female gives birth to a single lamb, leaving it under cover and returning twice a day to suckle. Full grown at 7 months, females mate as early as 8-9 months. It can reach up to 50cm and weigh 15-18kg. Females are slightly taller and heavier, but only males carry the short straight horns.
White Rhino (Ceratotherium simum). After the elephant and hippopotamus, the white rhinoceros ranks as Africa's third largest land mammal. They have a barrel-shaped body and short, thick-set limbs. Characteristic features include the long head with continually growing horns, one in front and a shorter one behind. As both species of rhino are frequently poached for their horns (believed to have medicinal uses), both white and black rhinoceros have become the most endangered large animal in Africa. The horns, composed of a mass of tubular filaments similar in substance to hair, are outgrowths of the skin and the front is normally longer than the rear. White rhinos are not white, the name comes from a corruption of 'wide rhino' – or the rhino with wide lips; a feature that allows it to use the lip to eat short grass. Black rhinos have a more hooked lip, which they use for plucking vegetation off bushes.  They are the more aggressive of the two species; black rhino are the ones more likely to charge. They live in Etosha, and have been re-introduced to Waterberg Plateau. White rhino have 4 basic requirements for food and habitat:
- areas with short grass to graze
- available water for drinking and to wallow
- adequate thick bush cover
- relatively flat terrain
Both black and white rhino are grey, but are inclined to assume the colour of the soil on which they live through mud-wallowing and dusting. Males are 1.8m and weight 2,300 kg. Females are smaller and lighter at 1,400-1,600kg.
Fork-Tailed Drongo (Dicrurus adsimilis) lives in riverine woodland, grassland, gardens, farmyards and town parks. Usually found singly or in pairs or up to 20 birds where sufficient perching positions and food sources are available. It bathes by plunge-diving or during light rain by spreading their wings and tail and raising the back feathers. It has black plumage with a purplish sheen, and a deeply forked tail in flight, hence the name. Adsimilis refers to the uniform black plumage. Common throughout the country except the arid west Namib Desert, it catches prey (insects, ticks, lizards, hornets, fish) aerially from the perch or on the ground.
It was a spectacular sunset, and moonrise, with beautiful glowing colours as we left the park. A delicious dinner and bed!

27th September Waterberg/ Otjiwarongo

We decided a self-guided hike in Waterberg Plateau Park would make a nice morning, so we borrowed their map guide and crossed the road into the park. Waterberg is one of the most famous mountain plateau in Namibia; high about the plains of the Kalahari of Eastern Namibia and contains species such as Sable Antelope, Buffalo and Rhino. It is host to a range of rare birds like the Ruppell’s parrot.
It was a well planned walk with some trees labelled, though not clearly, and an excellent detailed guide to the local flora (and some of the fauna). When we got back we were rather hot and dusty, and were very pleased to have a drink and a late relaxed lunch. We just chilled for the afternoon, enjoying the waterhole activity.
Groundscraper Thrush (Psophocichla litsitsirupa) inhabit open woodlands with a sparse understorey. However they do favour dense riverine vegetation of the Caprivi Strip as well. Gardens, orchards and playing fields also attracts this species. Has black facial patches and heavily spotted underparts. Other features include distinctive wing-flicking and larger and longer bills than members of the Tardus family. Psophocichla is Greek meaning for 'noisy thrush', complemented by the onomatopoeic rendition of the call, 'litsitsirupa', usually a series of grating whistles and notes. Locally common in north/ central Namibia, it forages on the ground in short grass for termites, crickets, beetles, grasshoppers, spiders.
Waterberg was born about 130 million years ago, when the continent of Gondwana broke apart. South America and Africa were separated in the region of what is now Namibia. Although Waterberg is far from the rupture zone, the tremendous forces at work inside the earth could be felt at the Waterberg. Shortly before the main event a rupture of the earth’s surface occurred here, called the Waterberg disturbance.The crust of the earth northwest of the disturbance was lifted hundreds of metres and shifted over the crust in the southeast. The top plate eroded over millions of years, just like the surrounding formations in the southeast. The lower plate, protected from erosion by the upper plate, is now visible as a plateau: Waterberg.
The reddish top bed consists of sandstone from the Etjo formation (below left), petrified dunes of a desert, which covered the greater part of Namibia 190 million years ago. The sandstone rests on the Omingonde formation, a compressed underground area of an even older landscape of lakes, containing conglomerate, sandstone and mudstone.
When it rains, the porous Etjo sandstone absorbs the water like huge sponge. The underlying impermeable Omingonde layer slightly slopes from northwest to southeast, so the absorbed water escapes at the south-eastern edge in layer springs. Waterberg, ie water mountain, gets its name from these springs (empty spring above centre). Further erosion has divided the current Waterberg into three parts; “little Waterberg” south of the C 22 road to Okakarara, Omuverume plateau on the northern opposite side and Main plateau, northeast and separated from Omuverume plateau by a saddle-shaped cut (above right). The plateau is 1,700m above sea level and 200m over its surroundings. With about 480 plant species Waterberg is regarded as a floral 'hotspot', even more so because some species are endemic, occurring only in Namibia or even just Waterberg. The reason is the mountain’s location and geological singularities. Waterberg is the first elevation on the western fringe of the Kalahari: a barrier of approx 50 km which intercepts the rain clouds. The red sandstone stores the precipitation and releases this moisture during the long dry season. Huge fig trees and rare plants such as ferns or the African flame tree grow at the upper end of the valley, where springs keep the ground damp throughout the year. When rock depressions fill with water in the rainy season, aquatic plants and even turtles make their appearance. Botanists have registered 80 different grasses and more than 60 species of trees alone. The huge fig and Camelthorn trees are particularly impressive, as are the ancestor trees, aka Leadwood (below left) because of the weight of the wood. Ferns flourish in the shade of the cliffs; during good rainy seasons water plants start growing in rock pits. Botanists are thrilled by the variety of lichens which form unique white, green or yellow patterns on the reddish sandstone canvas. Lichens (below right) are a symbiotic form of life, an inseparable partnership of a fungus and a partner capable of photosynthesis, usually green algae or cyanobacteria. Since the fungus is the dominant partner, lichens are considered fungi. Experts estimate there are 140 different species at Waterberg
Commiphora saxicola, rock corkwood, is a shrub in the genus Commiphora endemic to, and protected in, Namibia. It grows on rock slopes and gravel plains from Kunene River to Helmeringhausen. The rock corkwood is known in local language Otjiherero as Omumdomba. The resin of the shrub smells sweet and is used as a thirst suppressant by Topnaar people. The fruit is edible.
Hoodia juttae in the family Apocynaceae is endemic to Namibian rocky areas and cold desert. H. juttae is found around the Little and Great Karas mountains. The plant was discovered by Jutta Dinter, wife of botanist, Kurt Dinter in 1913. Hoodia juttae is small and branches freely into a small shrub more broad than tall, rarely more than 0.3 m high.
Kirkia dewinteri is a small tree in the Kirkiaceae, endemic to the dry Kaokoveld in Namibia. This rare species is found on rocky outcrops, usually growing into a 5-m tall tree. Bark is yellow with blackish spots. Fruit a small woody capsule splitting into four valves.
Moringa ovalifolia is a succulent flowering tree of the family Moringaceae native to northern Namibia. It is a succulent-stemmed tree found in semi-desert areas. The plant grows vertically, and can reach 7 m in height. German botanists Kurt Dinter and Alwin Berger described the species in 1914. Moringa ovalifolia occurs on rocky escarpment passes leading to the Namib Desert and is the dominant component of the woodland known as the Fairy Tale Forest in Etosha.
Senegalia montisusti, Brandberg acacia, is a species of plant in the family Fabaceae. It is found only in Namibia.
Tetraena giessii, Zygophyllum giessii, in the family Zygophyllaceae is endemic to Namibia in rocky and colder areas.

The Herero (Otjiherero: Ovaherero) are a Bantu ethnic group inhabiting Southern Africa. There are c250,000 Herero in Namibia. They speak Otjiherero, a Bantu language. Though the Herero primarily reside in Namibia, there are significant populations in Botswana and Angola.
Unlike most Bantu, who are primarily subsistence farmers, the Herero are traditionally pastoralists with cattle. Terminology among Bantu pastoralist groups testifies that Bantu herders originally acquired cattle from Cushitic pastoralists of Eastern Africa. After the Bantu settled in Eastern Africa, some spread south. The Herero comprise several sub-divisions, inc the Himba, Tjimba (Cimba), Mbanderu, and Kwandu. Groups regularly cross the Namibia/Angola border when migrating with their herds. However, the Tjimba, though they speak Herero, are physically distinct hunter-gatherers. The leadership of the Ovaherero is distributed over 8 royal houses:
Ovaherero Kingdom, Paramount Chief Mutjinde Katjiua
Maharero Royal Traditional Authority, chief Tjinaani Maharero
Zeraeua Royal Traditional Authority at Otjimbingwe
Ovambanderu Royal Traditional Authority, chief Kilus Karaerua Nguvauva
Onguatjindu Royal Traditional Authority at Okakarara, chief Ben Katjee Uanekee
Conflicts with the Nama in the 1860s necessitated Ovaherero unity, hence a paramount chief.
In the 15th century, the Herero migrated to Namibia from the east and established themselves as herdsmen. In the early 19th century, the Nama from South Africa, already possessing firearms, entered the land and began displacing the Herero, leading to bitter warfare between the two.
During the late 18th century, Europeans began to settle the land. Primarily in Damaraland, German settlers acquired land from the Herero for farms. In 1883, the merchant Franz Adolf Eduard Lüderitz entered into a contract with the native elders, later the basis of German colonial rule. The territory became a German colony as German South West Africa and conflict between German colonists and Herero herdsmen arose over disputes about access to land and water, and discrimination by the white immigrants. In the late 19th century, imperialism and colonialism in Africa peaked, affecting the Herero and Nama. Germany officially claimed a colony in 1884, calling it German South West Africa until 1915. The first German colonists arrived in 1892, and intensified conflict with the Herero and Nama. Between 1893 and 1903, Herero and Nama land and cattle were taken by German colonists. They resisted expropriation, but were disorganised and defeated them with ease. In 1903, the Herero learnt they were to be placed in reservations, leaving more room for colonists. In 1904, the Herero and Nama began a rebellion that lasted until 1907, ending with the near destruction of the Herero; approx 65,000 Herero were killed. Samuel Maharero, Supreme Chief of the Herero, led an uprising on Jan 12, 1904, against the Germans. The Herero, surprising the Germans, had initial success. General Lothar von Trotha took over and planned to annihilate the Herero nation by surrounding them, leaving but one route for escape, into the desert. They were prevented from approaching watering holes, and starved. Lothar von Trotha called it a “race war” and issued an “annihilation order”. On the 100th anniversary of the massacre, German Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul apologised for the crimes on behalf of all Germans. Hereros and Namas demanded financial reparations, not yet forthcoming.
The Herero are traditionally cattle-herding pastoralists who rate status on the number of cattle owned. Cattle raids occurred between Herero groups, but Herero land (Ehi Rovaherero) belongs to the community and has no fixed boundaries. The Herero have a bilateral descent system, tracing their heritage through both father or oruzo (pl: otuzo), and mother's lineage, or eanda (pl: omaanda). Homosexuality is tolerated. The Holy Fire okuruuo (OtjikaTjamuaha) of the Herero is located at Okahandja. On Herero Day 2011, a group under Paramount Chief Kuaima Riruako claimed the fire should face the sunset. They removed it and placed it at an undisclosed location, a move that has stirred controversy. Despite sharing a language and pastoral traditions, the Herero are not a homogeneous people. The Kaokoland Herero have remained isolated and are still pastoral nomads, but the main Herero group in central Namibia was heavily influenced by Western culture in the colonial period, creating a whole new identity. Missionaries considered the shape of the traditional headdress Ekori, which symbolised the horns of cows (their main source of wealth), as a symbol of the devil and rejected it. The dress of the Herero incorporates styles worn by German colonists. Though initially forced upon the Herero, it now operates as a new tradition and a point of pride. During the 1904-07 war, Herero warriors would steal and wear the uniforms of German soldiers they had killed, believing this transferred the dead soldiers' power to them. Herero women adopted the floor-length gowns of late 19th C German missionaries, but in vivid colours and prints, known as ohorokova. Ohorokova dresses are high-necked and have voluminous skirts lavishly gathered from a high waist, incorporating multiple petticoats and metres of fabric. The long sleeves are puffed from the shoulders or frilled at the wrists. Coordinating neckerchiefs are knotted around the neck. For everyday wear, dresses are patched from smaller pieces of fabric. Dresses made from a single material are for special occasions. The most distinctive feature of Herero women's dress is their horizontal horned headdress, the otjikaiva, a symbol of respect to cows. The headdresses can be made from rolled-up newspaper covered in fabric made to match dresses. The Herero language (Otjiherero) is the main unifying link among the Herero peoples. It is a Bantu language, part of the Niger–Congo family. There are many dialects, including Oluthimba, Otjizemba, Otjihimba, and Otjikuvale. These are largely mutually intelligible, though Kuvale, Zemba, and Hakaona have been classified as separate languages. Standard Herero is used in the Namibian media and is taught in schools throughout the country.

Posted by PetersF 13:30 Archived in Namibia Tagged animals birds sunset cheetah namibia antelope rhino giraffe conservation springbok etosha waterberg

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