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Namibia Kalahari

Desert life and sunsets

10th September Kalahari
We left directly after breakfast, back to Nelson Mandela Av, then out on the main road, Robert Mugabe Av which became Auas Street, aka B1. This led quickly out of the city, south towards Rehoboth and Mariental. We passed Heroes Acre, and could see monolith from the road. We passed from Khomas to Hardap Region, crossing the Tropic of Capricorn soon after.
After some 250km we saw the turn for the C20 and the hotel, but needed petrol first, so we drove a bit further to Mariental. Then, as we were early, we decided to visit Hardap Dam. After driving up past part of the dam, we arrived at check point 1. It took a bit of admin to get in to; register as the first checkpoint with names and car reg, receive a chit, take the chit to the second check point to pay; finally enter the dam park! The area was totally empty; no other cars at all. We drove past the sluice bridge and ended at the very modern restaurant. Great views of the lake and nice (well priced) drinks and food. Another couple finally rocked up 20mins later, but otherwise we had it to ourselves.
Hardap, which is Namibia’s largest dam, is on Fish River. It was built in 1960 and the park around was created soon after. There are plenty of water (and other) birds to see there; we liked the pelicans and even spotted a Fish Eagle. The name Hardap is from the Nama word "nipple" or "wart", how the surrounding area of low conical-shaped hills appeared to the early inhabitants.
As we left we were rather surprised when a large antelope leapt over the fence along the roadside and proceeded to dart in front of us with very little notice. Luckily we were able to stop in time. It was a kudu, notorious for this!
Greater Kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) is found throughout central/ northern Namibia and is the second tallest antelope in Africa. Kudu bulls bear long, spiral horns which reach lengths of up to 1.8m. Kudu live in small herds of 12, mainly females and young, joined in breeding season by normally solitary males. They are a savannah woodland species. Kudu can also be found in broken, rocky terrain, under the cover of woodland with a nearby water supply. Despite their large size, kudu are agile and from a virtual standing start can jump great heights, easily clearing game fences of 2m or more. Kudu are a hazard to driving, especially at night as they can freeze in oncoming headlights. Such a large solid animal (with massive horns) can do serious damage. The kudu is predominately a browser on tree and shrub leaves, favouring fruits, pods and creepers. It is tawny- to grey-brown, marked with white stripes on the flanks which vary greatly in shape, size and pattern. It has a V-shaped band on the forehead and white spots on the cheeks. Manes of long hair extend from the back of the head along the back to the tail, as well as on the lower neck to the belly. The main calving period falls after mid-summer, when the grass is tallest; when a single calf is born. Bulls weigh up to 300kg, with a height of 1.4m. Usually only males have horns, but sometimes the females do.

Returning to the B1 it was only a few km to the C20 turn. After 20km we saw the gated entrance to the Kalahari Anib (Gondwana) Lodge. The security guard took our name and let us in.
In a place of burnished sands, Kalahari Anib Lodge is nestled in a lush green oasis under palm trees, set amidst the red dunes of the Kalahari Desert. Kalahari Anib Lodge offers freestanding chalets overlooking the savannah. All rooms are en suite with air condition and mosquito nets. The reception and a souvenir shop are sited in a freestanding building next to the bar and restaurant. The restaurant offers buffet dining. The bar is decorated, with two fireplaces set into 'sand pits' on either side of the room, allowing guests to enjoy the red Kalahari sand. Explore Gondwana Kalahari Park on the sunset drive and celebrate life a top a red Kalahari dune. Drink in the beauty of the Kalahari where gemsbok flourish and sociable weavers build gargantuan nests atop camelthorn trees. Step along the trails around the lodge, keeping eyes open for springbok, zebra and wildebeest; and after your meal how about a star walk in the veld nearby.
The friendly receptionist asked if we were going to swim, have a drink, or go for a hike. After a morning in the car we were up for a walk, so she gave us the map of their self-guided trails. It was hot, so we made sure we had sunscreen and water before heading out into the Kalahari on their Zebra Trail (not the longest, but still 8km and all we had time for). Within 20 minutes we’d spotted several male impala, mostly shading under trees, a small herd of springbok who’d been startled and were doing their springing thing, a variety of birds, and giraffe (in the distance). There were quite a few aardvark trails and holes, but being nocturnal, we didn’t seen any in the flesh.
The Kalahari Desert is a large semi-arid red sandy savannah covering 900,000 km2 in Southern Africa, covering parts of Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. Kalahari is derived from the Tswana word Kgala "the great thirst", or Kgalagadi "a waterless place"; as it has vast areas covered by red sand without any permanent surface water. The Kalahari was not always a dry desert; fossil flora and fauna from Gcwihaba Cave in Botswana indicates the region was much wetter and cooler c30- 11,000 BC especially around 17,500 BC. Drainage of the desert is by dry black valleys, seasonally inundated pans and the large salt Etosha Pan. The only permanent river, the Okavango, flows into a delta in the northwest, forming marshes that are rich in wildlife. Ancient dry riverbeds, omuramba, traverse the central reaches and provide standing pools of water during the rainy season. As a semi-desert, with huge tracts of excellent grazing after good rains, the Kalahari supports more animals and plants than a true desert, such as the Namib Desert to the west. The Kalaharian climate is subtropical (average annual temperature ≥18 °C, peak 40 °C), and is semi-arid with the dry season during the "cold" season, the coldest six months of the year. The altitude prevents the Kalaharian climate being tropical; its altitude ranges 600-1600 m, generally 800-1200 m, winter frost is common June to August. The southwest Kalahari is the driest area, in particular in Namibia. The Kalahari is dominated by the Kalahari High anticyclone: The North and North-west is subject to "Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ)/"Continental Trade winds” where boreal trade winds meet their austral counterparts; The rest of the Kalahari is subject to the maritime trade winds, that largely shed their moisture as they cross over the Southern African Great Escarpment before arriving over the Kalahari. There are huge subterranean water reserves beneath parts of the Kalahari; the Dragon's Breath Cave, in Grootfontein (Namibia) is the largest documented non-subglacial underground lake.
Due to its low aridity, the Kalahari supports a variety of flora. Native flora includes acacia trees and many other herbs and grasses. The kiwano fruit, aka horned melon, melano, African horned cucumber, jelly melon, or hedged gourd, is endemic to the Kalahari. Even where the Kalahari "desert" is dry enough to qualify as a desert in the sense of low precipitation, it is not strictly a desert because it has too dense a ground cover. In the south and west of the Kalahari, the vegetation is mainly Kalahari xeric savanna (Fish River Canyon aka Nama Karoo region), where typical savanna grasses include Schmidtia, Stipagrostis, Aristida, and Eragrostis; interspersed with trees such as camelthorn (Acacia erioloba), grey camelthorn (Acacia haematoxylon), shepherd's tree (Boscia albitrunca), blackthorn (Acacia mellifera), and silver cluster-leaf (Terminalia sericea). In areas where the climate is drier, it becomes a true semi-desert with ground not entirely covered by vegetation: "open" as opposed to "closed" vegetation (the Keetmanshoop area of Namibia). Although there are few endemic species, a wide variety of species are found in the region, including large predators such as lion (Panthera leo), cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), leopard (Panthera pardus), spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta), brown hyena (Parahyaena brunnea), and African wild dog (Lycaon pictus pictus). Birds of prey include the secretary bird (Sagittarius serpentarius), martial eagle (Polemaetus bellicosus) and other eagles, the giant eagle owl (Bubo lacteus) and other owls, falcons, goshawks, kestrels, and kites. Other animals include wildebeest, springbok, gemsbok and other antelopes, porcupines (Hystrix africaeaustralis) and ostriches (Struthio camelus). The biggest threat to wildlife are the fences erected to manage herds of cattle, a practice which also removes the plant cover of the savanna itself. The San people have lived in the Kalahari for 20,000 years as hunter-gatherers. They get most of their water requirements from plant roots and desert melons found in the desert. They often store water in the blown-out shells of ostrich eggs. Bantu-speaking Tswana, Kgalagadi, and Herero and a small number of European settlers also live in the Kalahari desert. The city of Windhoek is situated in the Kalahari Basin.
Acacia is a large genus of shrubs and trees in subfamily Mimosoideae of pea family Fabaceae. Initially, it comprised a group of plant species native to Africa and Australasia. The genus name is New Latin from Greek ἀκακία (akakia, thorn), a term used by Dioscorides for a preparation extracted from the leaves and fruit pods of Vachellia nilotica, the original type of the genus. By the early 2000s it was evident that several divergent lineages needed to be placed in separate genera. One lineage of over 900 species in Australia, New Guinea, and Indonesia was not closely related to the smaller group of African lineage that contained A. nilotica, the type species. Vachellia/ Acacia nilotica aka gum arabic, babul, thorn mimosa, thorny acacia, is native to Africa, the Middle East and India. The tree is 5–20 m high with a dense spheric crown, stems and branches dark to black, fissured bark, grey-pink slash, exuding a reddish low quality gum. The tree has thin, straight, light, grey spines in axillary pairs. Flowers in globulous heads are a bright golden-yellow, set on peduncles 2–3 cm long at the end of the branches.
Acacia/Vachellia erioloba, camel thorn, giraffe thorn, a tree of southern Africa with a preferred habitat of deep dry sandy soils.The tree can grow up to 20m high. It is slow-growing, very hardy to drought and frost-resistant. The light-grey thorns reflect sunlight, and leaves close when it is hot. The wood is dark red-brown and extremely dense and strong. It is good for fires, which leads to widespread clearing of dead trees and felling of healthy trees. The seeds can be roasted as a substitute for coffee beans. Camel thorn refers to the fact that giraffe (kameelperd Afrikaans) commonly feed on the leaves with a specially-adapted tongue and lips that can avoid the thorns.
Acacia/ Senegalia mellifera is a common thorn tree in Africa. Mellifera refers to its sweet-smelling blossoms and honey. Its lumber turns pitch black when oiled. Common names include Blackthorn. It can occur either as a multi-trunked bush up to 7m high with a funnel-shaped crown, or as a single-trunked tree up to 9m. In Africa, it is used for fencing, livestock feed and building material. The wood is prized for fuel and charcoal. It is used in traditional African medicine and contains the psychoactive chemical DMT. The flowers are often eaten by kudu.
Boscia albitrunca, shepherd tree, caper family Capparaceae. Traditionally, the shepherd tree was used by Dutch settlers, boers, to create a variant of coffee from the roots of the tree. "Albitrunca" refers to the often white trunk. It is an evergreen tree native to southern Africa, in hot, dry areas, or occasionally rocky terrain. It is common in the Kalahari, bushveld and lowveld. It is one of the most important forage trees in the Kalahari. The tree can grow to 10 m tall but is usually much smaller. It has a prominent, sturdy white trunk with strips of rough, dark-coloured bark. The crown is often browsed by antelope and grazers that can reach the foliage, resulting in a conspicuous flattened underside or browse-line. The flowers are small, greenish-yellow, star-shaped, and clustered. A specimen found in central Kalahari in 1974 had roots 68m deep, the deepest known.
Terminalia sericea/ Silver cluster-leaf is a deciduous tree, genus Terminalia native to southern Africa. The name is Latin terminus "boundary" and describes the concentration of foliage at the very end of the twigs; "sericea" is from Latin sericatus "clothed in silken hair" and describes the downy foliage. The silver cluster-leaf grows to 9m in woodland but isolated trees can be up to 23m. The bark is red-grey brown and the flowers are white on short spikes. They smell unpleasant and are fly pollinated.
Cucumis metuliferus, horned cucumber, spiked melon, jelly melon, kiwano, or cuke-a-saurus, annual vine in cucumber/ melon family, Cucurbitaceae. Its fruit has horn-like spines. The ripe fruit has orange skin and lime green, jelly-like flesh. C. metuliferus is native to Southern Africa where it is a traditional food. Along with the Gemsbok cucumber (Acanthosicyos naudinianus) and Tsamma (Citron melon) it is one of the few sources of water during the dry season in the Kalahari Desert.
Our trail took us around the grasslands and ended at the foot of the red Kalahari dunes. As we headed back it was beginning to get a little cooler, but it was still lovely to take a dip in the pool, followed by a long drink at the bar. As we cooled down we looked at our itinerary again, before heading to reception to meet our driver for the 3hr sunset drive into the Kalahari. The drive was excellent; we saw loads of birds (inc Kori Bustard, Social Weavers a rare pair of Secretary birds) and animals (zebra, springbok, oryx, eland, and our favourite a family of giraffe). The guide was very knowledgeable and spent time stopping to show and explain aspects of the area, the flora as well as the fauna. After spotting various bachelor impala and springbok under lone trees, we stopped by an enormous Social Weavers nest in a camel thorn tree. This nest had over 100 birds nesting in it, but later in Gondwanaland we came across an even larger nest of about 400 birds! A great idea by these birds as it prevented snakes predating their nests, both by numbers (always an alarm call somewhere) and by the Tony nature of the tree. A further drive up and over dunes took us to a small group of zebra (really hard to spot) and a rather ruffled ostrich. The secretary birds were next, again not easy to spot initially in the long grass, but very visible as they took off to fly the short distance to their next prey, probably a snake. The silhouette of a giraffe alerted us to the family; a group of 2 males, 3 females and quite young ones. Crossing another dune into more a densely wooded area, we found a group of eland grazing, shortly followed by some roan. For a while we even followed a bat-eared fox, which is rare. We ended with sunset at the top of a red sand dune with the sun setting red and orange over the dunes and the giraffes, and the moon rising behind us. The copious supply of alcohol, with snacks, rendered the experience a real high. Then back in the dusk (fairly sure we spotted an aardvark) to a buffet dinner (with musical accompaniment) under the stars.
Social(be) Weaver In Namibia, sociable weavers (Philetairus socius) spend some 20% of their time at their colony, mainly involved in nest building/repairing duties. They inhabit arid dry savannah, and mopane woodland, as the ideal habitat for colonial and cooperative breeding. Philetairus is Greek for 'loving companions’. This bird is a small sparrow like weaver with a short tail whose distribution ranges from Etosha, south through central/ southern Namibia, Fish River Canyon, Swakopmund/ Walvis Bay and the Kalahari Desert. It forages in flocks throughout the day for seeds and arthropods and breeds in huge, domed communal nests.
Springbok (Antidorcas marsupilis) are graceful, relatively small antelope, members of the gazelle family, which generally occur in large herds. They have finely marked short coats: fawn-brown upper parts and a white belly, separated by a dark brown band. Springbok occur throughout Namibia; they are often the most common small antelope. They can be seen by the thousand in Etosha. They favour dry, open country, preferring open plains or savannah, and avoiding thick woodlands and mountains. They can subsist without water for long periods, if there is moisture in the plants they graze or browse. The springbok (Antidorcas marsupialis) is one of the fastest antelopes. Both male and female carry lyrate horns which rise from the head and slope slightly backwards. The name marsupialis was added because of a pocket-like skin flap that extends along the middle of the back from the tail onwards. In times of mating, the male shows off his strength and to attract a mate, jumps into the air, which lifts the flap along his back. This action causes the long white hairs under the tail to stand up in a clearly visible fan shape, which in turn emits a strong floral scent of sweat. This stiff legged bouncing motion is known as pronking, an Afrikaans name meaning to show off or to boast. It is also initiated to ward off predators. The range of the springbok is amazing and they can be found in the Namib Desert, living on the sparse vegetation, the lush farmlands around Windhoek and in vast herds in Etosha, where they often mingle with herds of zebra and wildebeest, a predators delight Springbok browse in the dry season and graze in the wet. They will drink water when it is available, but most of their moisture requirements are satisfied by their food intake. They are also known to use mineral licks. Cinnamon coloured upper body, white underparts and a broad dark brown stripe on either flank stretching from the front legs to the rear legs. The short white tail is brown tufted. The rump is marked by a triangular-shaped white patch, framed by a dark brown stripe with the apex on the top of the hindquarters. Most ewes breed every year, some even twice. Young become sexually mature at the age of seven months. Rams may weigh up to 50kg and stand about 75cm at the shoulder and ewes slightly smaller and lighter at around 37kg.
Bat-Eared Fox (Otocyon megalotis) is so named because of its large ears, a characteristic of the species. They belong to the same family as jackals and resemble them, but are smaller. Other characteristic features are the broadly black tipped bushy tail (around 25cm long) and black limbs. They are monogamous and can often be found in groups comprising of just a mated pair and their offspring. Predators include large birds of prey, spotted hyenas and larger cats. If a family member is caught, other bat-eared foxes will attempt to rescue it by bravely attacking the predator using harassment techniques which include ankle-biting. Although not noisy animals they can also be heard calling one another with a shrill 'who-who-who' calls. They mark their territorial boundaries by urinating on bushes and trees. The bat-eared fox is an endangered species, mainly due to the trade in their skins. They follow the rains, which coincide with plentiful insect activity. They favour short grass with bare patches, instead of dense bush. The massive ears of the bat-eared fox allow it to detect invertebrates below ground. It will then dig frantically to unearth its favourite meal – termites. It also feeds on other insects such as beetles, small rodents, lizards, small snakes and wild fruit. Their fur is a beautiful silver-grey colour.
Eland (Taurotragus oryx) The name is from Dutch and means elk. They are the largest African antelope and both sexes have distinctive heavy, spirally twisted horns up to 1m in length. Eland herds are normally 6 -12 animals and are often found near zebras or giraffes, possibly in the hope of warding off lions. An interesting characteristic of an eland herd is that it includes a nursery for the calves. When threatened by predators the herd forms a front, with the large males taking the lead positions, whilst the calves and pregnant females are protected behind this fortress. Hunted extensively for their hide and flesh, and at times trained to work in harness, eland populations have greatly diminished over the years. In spite of its heavy physique, eland are agile and can easily jump over fences. Eland can be found on the farmland of north central Namibia (Outjo and Tsumeb), Kalahari Desert and Etosha (particularly around Namutoni). Elands are predominately browsers and prefer savannah scrub and leaves. They only eat grass in the summer, as it is not an important part of their diet. They drink water when it is available, but they are by not dependent on it, obtaining their moisture requirements from their food. They have been known to go up to a month without water. They are fawn in colour and the horns average about 65cm long. The male has a distinctive tuft of hair on his head and stouter horns than the female. A single calf is born to a mother after a gestation period of approximately 9 months. Calves can run with the herd a few hours after birth. They stand nearly 2m high at the shoulder, and a fully grown male may weigh over 700 kg. Females are smaller at 1.5m and weigh up to 460kg.
Secretary Birds (Sagittarius serpenarius) inhabit open grassland with trees and shrub, but is absent from rocky hills and dense woodland. The sight of them striding across their grassy range, head down on the lookout for prey is truly memorable. They can be active throughout the heat of the day, roosting singly or in pairs in the crown of thorn trees, or in their nests. Dust bathes during the day. Distribution: Etosha, northern Namib Desert, central/ southern Namibia, Kalahari Desert, Orange River. Diet: Eats small tortoises, large grasshoppers, locusts, amphibians, reptiles, birds and their eggs and rodents. Small mammals include striped polecat, hedgehogs and slender mongoose. Bird prey includes francolin, hornbills, laughing dove and red-capped lark. Snake prey includes puff adder, cobras and skinks, as well as various lizards. Serpentarius is Latin for 'pertaining to a snake' a reference to their diet. Description: Only at a distance can the secretarybird be confused with the blue crane, which has black, elongated and drooping tertials and bare, not feathered, upper legs. The upper parts of the secretarybird are mainly plain, bluish grey. Breeding: 1 and 3 eggs. Size: 150cm. Weight: 4kg.
Roan(Hippotragus equinus) is a very large antelope, only surpassed in size by the eland. The name refers to its colour and it is an endangered species in Namibia. They are gregarious and live in small herds of 5-12. Roan are not territorial, but the dominant bull defends his females from other males, as opposed to the territory within which they are living. They have recently been re-introduced to Waterberg Plateau Park. Roan are predominantly grazers on long grass. They are not 'close croppers' such as wildebeest or zebra, preferring grass heights of up to 1.5m. A brown body is tinged with strawberry. It has a black or very dark brown face, that extends to the neck, with a strongly contrasting white patch over the top of the muzzle, round the nostrils and onto either side of the lips and on to the chin. Females give birth to 1 calf. Males stand around 140cm at the shoulder and weigh up to 270kg, the females are slightly smaller and lighter. Both sexes carry horns.
Giraffe The giraffe is the tallest of all animals and the name is derived from the Arabic zarafah (one who walks quickly). The giraffe gets its great height from its legs, around 2m long and a neck which may be even longer. Two bony 'horns' grow from the skull and are covered by skin and hair. They are not true horns because they do not have a horny covering. Some giraffes also have one or more short hornlike bumps on the forehead. The horns of the female are smaller than those of the male. A giraffe can close its nostrils completely to keep out sand and dust (a handy trick in a dusty Namibia). It uses its long upper lip and its tongue, about 53cm long, to gather food from tree branches. Giraffes have good vision and seldom use their voice, though it can utter a variety of soft sounds. Despite the length of its neck, a giraffe only has 7 neck bones, the same number as humans and most other animals. A short mane grows along the back of the neck from the head to the shoulders. The sloping back measures about 1.5m from the base of the neck to the base of the tail. The tail is about 90cm long and ends in a tuft of long black hairs. A giraffe's hoofs are split into two parts; each consists of the hardened top of one toe. A giraffe's closest relative, and only other member of the giraffe family, is the okapi. Giraffes walk by moving both legs on one side of the body forward almost together and then both legs on the other side. When they gallop, both hind feet swing forward and land outside and in front of the front feet. Giraffes can gallop up to 56 km per hour, three times faster than a Windhoek taxi driver looking for passengers. A giraffe usually sleeps standing up. When lying down, it holds its neck upright or rests it on one of its hips or on a low tree limb. Female giraffes and their young often form small, loosely organised groups. They are joined from time to time by an adult male. Giraffes stay in the same general area for most of their lives, around 75km². A bull fights with another by butting its head against the neck or chest of its opponent. If a fight becomes serious, the powerful blows may be heard at a distance of 100m, however, the animals rarely injure each other. Lions are the only animals that attack adult giraffes; it may catch the victim lying down or ambush spring onto the giraffe's back. Giraffes defend themselves by kicking with their front feet, which is powerful enough to kill a lion. The tail hairs are used by some African tribes as bracelets and string. Hides are used for shields and twisted shredded tendons and ligaments to make bowstrings. Giraffes are found in Africa south of the Sahara, in small groups on grasslands. In Namibia they are common in Etosha, with wild free roaming populations in Kalahari, Damaraland & Kaokoland. Giraffes love acacia trees and browse leaves, twigs and fruit from trees that grow in scattered groves. A giraffe, like a cow, chews a cud, which is food that has entered the stomach but returned to the mouth for a second chewing. Giraffes can go without drinking water for many weeks and drink by spreading their forelegs far apart, or bending them forward, so that they can reach down to the water. This is when they are at their most vulnerable, so they are hesitant and visibly nervous when drinking. If they feel the slightest bit uncertain about the safety of the situation, then they'll forgo the opportunity altogether. Giraffe markings are of a tawny (light brown-yellow) to chestnut-brown colour. The lines that separate the patches are a lighter tawny or white. This pattern helps protect giraffes by making them hard to see when they stand amongst trees. Each individual giraffe has its own distinct coat pattern, adding to the camouflage effect. A female giraffe carries her young for about 15 months, before giving birth, generally to one baby, rarely twins. At birth, a calf may stand as tall as 1.8m and weigh as much as 68kg and can stand within an hour. The cow (female giraffe) can bear her first baby when she is 5 years old. In the wild, giraffes may live as long as 28 years. Male giraffes can grow to more than 5.5m, taller than the African elephant, the second tallest animal. The average male is around 5.2m and most females 4.3m. Even though giraffes tower over other animals, adult males weigh only about 1,200kg, 5x less than a male African elephant.
The Great Escarpment is a major topographical feature in Africa that consists of steep slopes from the high central Southern African plateau down in the direction of the oceans that surround southern Africa on three sides. While it lies predominantly within the borders of South Africa, in the east the escarpment extends northward to form the border between Mozambique and Zimbabwe, continuing on beyond the Zambezi river valley to form the Muchinga Escarpment in eastern Zambia. In the west, it extends northward into Namibia to the Khomas highlands and Angola. About 180 million years ago, a mantle plume under southern Gondwana caused bulging of the continental crust in the area that would later become southern Africa. Within 10–20 million years rift valleys formed on either side of the central bulge, which became flooded as the proto-Atlantic Ocean and proto-Indian oceans more or less along the present southern African coastline and separating the Southern Cape from the Falkland Plateau. The stepped, steep walls of these rift valleys formed escarpments that surrounded the newly formed Southern African subcontinent. During the past 20 million years, southern Africa has experienced further massive uplifting, especially in the east, with the result that most of the plateau lies above 1,000 m despite extensive erosion. The plateau is tilted such that it is highest in the east and slopes gently downward toward the west and south. Typically, the elevation of the edge of the eastern escarpments is in excess of 2,000 m. With the widening of the Atlantic, Indian, and Southern oceans, southern Africa became tectonically quiescent, with an almost uninterrupted period of erosion, removing layers many kilometers thick from the surface of the plateau and moving the present position of the escarpment approximately 150 km inland from the original fault lines that formed the walls of the rift valley along the coastline during the break-up of Gondwana. Because of erosion throughout most of the Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras, none of the plateau's surface rocks (except the Kalahari sands) are younger than 180 million years. The youngest rocks that remain cap the plateau in Lesotho on the steep side, laid down under desert conditions about 200 mya, topped by a 1600m thick layer of lava that erupted and covered most of southern Africa, and large parts of Gondwana, approx 180 mya.

Posted by PetersF 14:37 Archived in Namibia Tagged animals zebra namibia antelope giraffe kalahari springbok windhoek weavers

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