The Greater Flamingos in Namibia

The coastal city of Walvis Bay (Walvisbaai), Namibia lies some 30 kilometres south of Swakopmund, accessed (if you happen to approach from the north) on a stunning ocean road seamed by the mighty Namib Desert dunes. The harbour city is situated at a wide lagoon with innumerable seabirds, pelicans and flamingos. Regarding Namibian flamingos which also are generally known as “Greater Flamingos” are widely distributed from southern Europe to southern Asia and throughout sub-Saharan Africa, with African core populations in Mauritania and Senegal, East Africa and southern Africa. The lagoon in Walvis Bay is the scenic feature of Walvis Bay as such. So with making it one of the most important wetlands of southern Africa and is the hibernation area for thousands of migratory birds, like the greater flamingos. A large proportion of the southern African greater flamingo population of this sporadically nomadic species may congregate in Namibia. Rumour has it that in March 1999, a whopping 51,000 birds were recorded in Namibia out of an estimated total southern African population of 59,300. The greater flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) is the most widespread and largest flamingo species currently known of (first photo by Pixar).

+ Some general Infos on the Greater Flamingo:

Population estimate: Ranging between 41,000 and 51,000 adults

Southern Africa range: Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe

Habitat: Flooded salt pans, farm dams and coastal lagoons

Communication: These migrating birds communicate vocally with a type of honking that is very similar to the sounds which geese produce. Therefore, Flamingos are not big fans of noisy environments and tend to avoid them!

The surface area of occupancy: approx. 61,300 square kilometres

Food: The Greater Flamingo feeds by wading in shallow water with the bill upside down, filtering small crustaceans and other invertebrates from the water column and mud. It mainly takes saline lake crustaceans such as fairy shrimps, brine flies and marine benthic organisms such as molluscs and diatoms.

The colour(?): The pink/magenta colouring spread throughout their bodies hence comes from the crustaceans that they consume. Younger Flamingos only show signs of pigmentation after three years of age.

Threats: Low breeding frequency and success, collisions with power lines, water abstraction, reduced rainfall, hydrogen-sulphide eruptions, pesticides, encroachment of habitat, disturbance by smaller aircraft’s

Conservation status: Vulnerable (Namibia), Near Threatened (South Africa)

Lifespan: According to Zoo Basel, the general lifespan reaches over 60 years. According to Wikipedia “The oldest known greater flamingo was a bird at the Adelaide Zoo in Australia that died aged at least 83 years. The bird’s exact age is not known; he was already a mature adult when he arrived in Adelaide in 1933. He was euthanized in January 2014 due to complications of old age.”

The male Great Flamingos can be up to 154 centimetres tall which is more than some humans. They only weigh about 3,7 kilograms which for this tall bird is extremely light. Their feathers range in colour from pink – magenta to bright red. They also have areas of white blending throughout them. While in flight you will be able to see areas of black patches underneath the wings as well.

Image above shows Walvis Bay Flamingos in flight – photo by Launchphotography

The Greater Flamingo prefers less saline habitat than the Lesser Flamingo (Phoeniconaias minor), including recently flooded salt pans, sewage works, river mouths, inland dams and coastal bay. Generally, their breeding activity occurs on raised islands on the flooded salt pan at Etosha in large colonies which can be found far out on the Etosha salt pan. Worth noting is that breeding colonies may comprise several thousands of nests, often in mixed colonies with the Lesser Flamingo species. At Namibia’s Etosha Pan, laying of eggs via the Greater Flamingo typically starts when annual rains exceed 400 mm, generally in February and March, but as early as November and as late as May. However, in contrast, the Lesser Flamingo lays mainly in May and into June. The recorded breeding frequency and success at Etosha Pan are indeed very low. Between 1956 and 1995, Greater and Lesser Flamingos attempted to breed there on 17 occasions and recorded are only five successful outcomes. The Greater Flamingo is classified as Vulnerable in Namibia and as “Near Threatened” status within South Africa. However, the Greater Flamingo is not considered globally threatened according to the IUCN.

Image above shows the Greater Flamingo migrating route – photo by ResearchGate

The ongoing monitoring of breeding events and their success inside Namibia’s Etosha Pan currently is being continued by Etosha Ecological Institute staff. It is unclear if the cohorts of young birds are being marked with engraved rings when breeding is successful. It is vital to study and allow an assessment of the survival and movement of these birds.

+ Best season for birdwatching in Walvis Bay:

Migration starts at October/November and ends in April. Also, see the Map below for the lagoon directions in Walvis Bay.

• Click here for our past Blog Post regarding the diversity of Namibia’s Wildlife Conservation.

Snakebite Help-Guide

We picked up this very valuable Informative Text roaming throughout Namibia and we think it is of great value to share this with our fellow readers, locals and international visitors. This Blog-Post is currently the only copy of information partially compiled with roaming Information from another Website-Copywriter (we still trying to find out by whom). The importance of the topic matter nevertheless is second to none. So, if you are travelling into heavy rural areas, please pay some proper attention to the Information listed and explained below. The individual who compiled this Text we would love to thank you in advance and please get in contact with us. We couldn’t have written it better ourselves, therefore “hats-off” . This one is indeed extremely important for everyone, no matter locals, tour guides or international visitors alike, to be informed about. So without further due, please read the following and take Notes if you can.  IMPORTANT: If you do come in an unfortunate situation of a Snakebite and need to make a call from an international Cellphone, please use the prefix “+264” excluding the “0” eg. “+264 (0)81 123 4567″. Also, this guide is laid out for Namibia ONLY!!! A future Blog Post with emergency Numbers on bordering countries to Namibia available soon.


” With summer slowly approaching, snakes will once again come into conflict with people across Namibia. This list will provide our members with relevant information regarding basic snake safety and first aid, as well as contact details of snake catchers across the country.”

• Windhoek
Francois Theart 081 2900343 (All hours)
Jaques Arangies 081 2809839 (After hours and weekends)
Brendon Barnard 081 2194873 (after hours)
Felix Vallat 081 45 35 855 (All hours when in Windhoek, preferably Avis/Klein Windhoek/Ludwigsdorf/Eros)
Marco Peters 081 6577695 ( after hours and when in town)
Leevi Nanyeni 081 2482602 (after hours and weekends, Sundays only after 1 pm)
Frikkie Du Toit 081 8595051 (Available lunch hour and any time after five)

• Okahandja
Johan Pretorius 081 1272832 (all hours, except when consulting. Phone to find out)

• Otjiwarongo
Bennie Hollander 081 6284527 (All hours)

Ministry of Environment and Tourism 067 302639 /Victorus Shitulenus 081 2720384/ Calvin 081 2308524/ Kolbooi 081 2538303

• Grootfontein 
De Wet Horn 081 0343057 (daylight hours – find out where he is – Tsumeb or Grootfontein)

• Tsumeb 
De Wet Horn 081 0343057 (daylight hours – find out where he is – Tsumeb or Grootfontein)

• Otavi
Alex Singleton 081 3940174 (when in Otavi and available. Phone to find out)

• Usakos/Karibib
Antoinette Heath 081 2262715 (All hours, day and night)

• Rosh Pinah 
Wesley Price 081 1283307 (All Hours)

• Katima Mulilo
Curt_Ingo Sagell 081 1292811(All Hours)
Rachelle Lambrechts 081 5619040 (all hours)

• Coastal – Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and Henties Bay
Simon McGowan 081 2339242 (all hours)
Fanie Lucas 081 383 3417 (Swakopmund – After Hours)

• Rehoboth/Hardap region
Mario Guterres Emergency no 081 6888846/085 2888846/Radio 081 7455090 (All hours)

• Snake catching tour guides – phone to find out if perhaps they are in your area if not listed above
Stephan Sachse 081 2767552 (hometown Grootfontein)
Marc Davis 081 1241929 (hometown Otjiwarongo/Windhoek)

In the case of a snake bite, please email snakebite to snakebitedoc@gmail.com, Dr Buys will respond immediately.

When a snake is spotted, please keep your eyes on the snake and make sure you have these numbers close by to phone for assistance. And please bear in mind that most of these are working people, so please do not phone everyone on the list when someone is already on the way. When someone gets there they will use their own discretion to decide whether or not they need backup. Please also note, trying to kill the snake could result in a bite as it naturally will try to defend itself.

     + Steps To Live Safely Alongside Snakes:

Firstly there are NO effective snake repellents!!!

1. Keep grass short and clear underneath bushes to prevent hiding place for snakes.

2.Clear heaps of rubbish, building materials and other refuse from near the house

3. Avoid creeping plants, thick hedges and shrubs especially against house walls and open windows

4. Store food in rat-proof containers and keep livestock away from the house, as many snakes will come to hunt them.

5. Avoid compost heaps, rockeries and aviaries as they may provide snakes with suitable hiding spots and a source of food.

6. Close off all potential spots where snakes might fit through. This can be done by using shade clothing or chicken mesh.

     + What to do in case you encounter a Snake:

Image above: Barry-Goldsmith international Snake Catcher – photo from MPNEWS

1. DO NOT try to catch or kill snakes – If you are close enough to kill, you are close enough to get bitten.

2. Keep a calm and back away slowly snakes will flee immediately.

3. Contact Your nearest snake catcher to deal with the situation.

     + Prevention of Snakebite:

Image above: Proper footwear is highly important – Photo by Roam Outdoor

1. Wear closed shoes preferably ones that cover the ankle. Sunglasses should also be considered as they provide protection against spitting cobras.

2. Use a torch when you are outside at night.

3. Watch where your feet are treading. Step onto rocks and logs rather than over them.

4. Do not collect firewood at dusk or night as most snakes move during this time.

5. Be careful when handling dead or apparently dead snakes as some species like the Anchieta’s cobra may sham death as a defensive tactic

6. Do not handle any snake no matter how harmless they may seem.

7. Raise beds above floor level and use a mosquito net to prevent snakes entering your bed.

     + First Aid For Snakebite – Do’s and Don’ts

Image above: First procedure for a Snakebite – photo by Wildlife

1. DO stay calm. If you are assisting the victim to keep bystanders calm and reassure the patient who may be worried.

2. Rinse venom in the eyes with water immediately, and wash the face and any other areas that have been exposed to venom

3. Move the patient to safety. If possible try to identify the snake, this is however not vital as experienced snakebite doctors will be able to treat you according to your symptoms.

4. Reduce movement of the affected area as much as possible.

5. Remove tight clothing and jewellery around the bite site.

6. If a confirmed mamba, cape cobra or Anchieta’s cobra bite a pressure bandage may be used.

7. Elevate the limb slightly

8. Resuscitate (artificial or mouth-to-mouth respiration) if the patient stops breathing.

Remember NOT to waste any time with first aid when you are less than an hours drive from an equipped healthcare facility.

     + Do NOT!!!

Image above: Traditional Medicine by Wikipedia

1. Don’t wash, touch, cut or suck venom from the bite site.

2. Do Not use tourniquets

3. Do not lay the patient on their back at any time, to keep the airway free. Always lay them on their left side.

4. Do not stop monitoring the patient’s condition, especially breathing and airway, until you reach a healthcare facility.

5. Don’t rub the eyes or give any medication

6. Don’t use traditional methods, herbal medicines and unsafe forms of first aid

(Above Post by an outside Namibian Author/Organisation, Text Only – excluding Blog Post Intro, outro, images, maps, links and video)


     + The Living Desert Snake Park (Swakopmund)

The Living Desert Snake Park has the largest collection of reptiles on view in Namibia.

The Snake Park houses a variety of indigenous snakes, venomous and otherwise, giving the visitor an opportunity to see local species. These include the small and harmless ones that appear and disappear like ribbons of water or flashes of light; the most venomous, including the Boomslang (tree-snake), Black mamba and Cape cobra; and the more sluggish puff adder and fearsome-looking zebra snake.

Housed in the old Otavi Bahnhof on Sam Nujoma Avenue, the Snake Park is ‘small but it’s big’, as Sarah describes it. Information sheets about every species are pasted onto the glass and notices give valuable information about reptiles in general, adding a bit of humour here and there. As one sign informs visitors: Attention! We have only three puff adders, please don’t stand on one.” (by Travel News Namibia)

     + Literature

• Snakes of southern Africa

This a much-favoured book touching base on almost all species found within southern Africa, touching base on Habitat and characteristics of all different Snakes found on this part of the continent. Available at most Book-Shops and online at Amazon or for locals at TakeAlot.com.

This detailed and comprehensive guide to the 151 snakes indigenous to southern Africa covers all essential aspects of snake biology and behaviour. Now in its second edition, A Complete Guide to Snakes of Southern Africa has been updated, revised and expanded to include at least 11 newly discovered and 30 re-classified species and sub-species. New information based on international scientific research has been included in the species accounts relating to behaviour, identification, reproduction and snake venoms. Species descriptions are now accompanied by full-colour photographs. Simple icons make essential information available at a glance. A separate ‘look out for’ box assists in quickly identifying species in the field. Chapters on classification and identification, keeping snakes, and the prevention and treatment of snakebite supplement the species accounts. This readable and user-friendly guide will be invaluable to herpetologists, snake collectors, hikers, gardeners, campers and householders, or anyone who may encounter or want to know more about these fascinating and widely misunderstood reptiles.” (taken from Book Introduction)

Author: Johan Marais
Category: Reptiles / Snakes
ISBN: 9781868729326
Date Released: 1 July 2005 (2nd edition)
Price (incl. VAT): N$ 422.75 for Paperback, N$ 859.99 for Hardcover and N$ 158.50 for Kindle (prices may vary accordingly)
Format: 312 pages, Kindle, Hardcover or Paperback

     + A very informative 11:46 min Clip on Snakebite emergency treatments below.

Conservation of Namibia’s Ecosystems

Conservation within Namibia is a big cornerstone for the maintenance in order to offer an outstanding Tourism experience. One thing locals are very proud of is that Namibia was the first African country to incorporate protection of the environment into its constitution, and the government has reinforced this by giving its communities the opportunity and rights to manage their wildlife and surroundings through communal conservancies. There was a moderate increase in the area of biomes and vegetation zones under conservation management during the time this Blog has been compiled. According to Travel News Namibia, 44 per cent of Namibia’s landmass was classified as being under conservation management, through (1) Protected areas on state land, (2) Tourism Concessions, (3) Private game reserves and Freehold Conservancies, (4) Community Forests and (5) Communal Conservancies, The protected area network expanded by 28,983km2 (or 8.8 per cent) from 2010-2013, with the bulk of this being an increase in the coverage of the acacia savannah and broad-leafed savannah biomes through the expansion of the communal conservancy and community forestry programmes. There were also a number of other significant developments with regard to the protected area network:

The Bwabwata – Okavango was officially proclaimed as a Ramsar Wetland Site of International Importance in 2013. It covers an area of 46,964 hectares and is located in north-eastern Namibia in the Kavango East Region. The site supports one of the highest diversities of species in the Zambezian Flooded Savannas Eco-region.

The Namib Sand Sea was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in June 2013. A National Viability Assessment of Man and Biosphere Reserves in Namibia was also completed in 2014.

The Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA) was formally established in 2011, and with an area of 440,000km2, is the world’s largest TFCA. It covers the Mudumu, Mangetti National Parks, Bwabwata, Mamili, Khaudum, as well as the Zambezi State Forest and conservancies and community forests around these protected areas, and is shared by Botswana, Zambia, Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe.

• As part of efforts to institute collaborative management of conservation areas, five Protected Landscape Conservation Areas (PLCAs) – .pdf were established. Each PLCA has an existing State Protected Area at its core as well as adjacent communal conservancies, community forests and private reserves/land areas. The PLCAs comprise a total area of 92,392km2.

• Namibia identified and submitted four proposals for Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas (EBSAs) at the current moment.

     + Trends in Species Diversity

Image: Sustainable Resource Management Areas of Namibia by NRWG&WWF.

• Plant specimens: The National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI) continues to collect and store seed, herbarium specimens and data of threatened, rare, endemic and useful plants. The most recent evaluation of about 1,450 of Namibia’s plant species has shown that 40 (2.75 per cent) fall into the threatened categories according to the IUCN system (NBRI 2014), however it is believed that this is an underestimate as not enough is known about all plant populations in the country and most of these evaluations were not based on intensive fieldwork.

• Wildlife: Namibia completed a Large Carnivore Atlas in 2012 covering six large carnivore species, and compared its results with the previous Large Carnivore Atlas of 2004. Species estimates were higher for all species with cheetahs, lions, wild dogs and leopards estimates doubling the previous estimates. Annual game counts, in which a combination of foot patrols, vehicle-based counts and aerial monitoring are combined, continue to be undertaken at the same time every year. Important wildlife recoveries have been observed in the Zambezi Region, which is Namibia’s most biodiversity-rich region, as well as in the sparsely populated, arid and largely pristine Kunene Region in the north-west.

• Fish / Marine Resources: State of Stocks Reviews were completed in 2011 and 2012 for the shared, commercially utilized, living marine resources in the Namibian BCLME Region (.pdf). The Reviews divided species and or stocks into crustacean, demersal, tuna-like species, small pelagic and others.

• Bird species: In 2014, Birdlife International estimated that 592 species of bird species occur in Namibia. 544 of these species are classified as “least concern”, while approximately 5 per cent or 28 of these species are considered globally threatened. In Namibia, almost all birds are protected under the Nature Conservation Ordinance of 1975. Wetland bird counts are conducted twice per year (once in summer and once in winter) as part of the International Waterbird Census.

• Other diverse Taxa: Unfortunately, very limited information is available on insects, invertebrates, micro-organisms, arachnids, amphibians and reptiles. There is a need to improve taxonomic research on these groups in Namibia. The populations of invertebrates, arachnids, insects, reptiles and amphibians were described for the Namib Sand Sea World Heritage Site.

• Implications for local Human Well-Being – The adaptive management and sustainable utilization of natural resources, particularly fisheries, wildlife and forest resources, based on scientific and participatory resource monitoring methods, is increasing in Namibia. Overall, this is considered to be leading to an improved state of biodiversity in the country with positive impacts on human well-being, livelihoods and poverty reduction. The CBNRM Programme is particularly demonstrating how the sustainable management of biodiversity can enhance socio-economic development. It is also driving the increased beneficiation and involvement of rural communities in the rapidly growing tourism sector. The degraded state of Namibia’s rangelands is a major concern, as these cover an estimated 71 per cent of the total landmass (Mendelsohn 2006). Soil fertility is also considered to be declining in the crop-growing subsistence agriculture areas of Northern Namibia. Population pressure, poor management practices, increasing climatic variability and the clearance of land are among the drivers of this situation.

     + 9 Conservation Projects in Namibia welcoming Volunteers

If you have an open heart for all things regarding conservation for the Namibian Fauna and Flora ecosystem then here are some nice options of Projects who are always looking for volunteers joining the Team and help-out with the cause at hand. So, in no specific ranking order (click Project Name to be taken directly to Website):

• The Kwando Carnivore Project: The Kwando Carnivore Project is based in the Zambezi Region and works on applied research and conservation of large carnivores in the Zambezi and Kavango Regions. Fieldwork takes place in the protected areas as well as the conservancies of the Mudumu Complexes. Conflict efforts include building lion-proof kraals to protect cattle from lions that move outside of park boundaries.  We also use mobile kraals to protect cattle that are left outside to graze on harvested fields at night. The Project’s field work includes regular spoor and camera trap surveys in order to monitor the large carnivore populations of the Zambezi and Kavango Regions.

• The Mountain Zebra Project (.pdf): The aim of the Mountain Zebra Project is to promote the study of mountain zebras for scientifically based population management and as a flagship species for wider ecosystem conservation in Namibia. Like many large mammals in human-dominated landscapes, mountain zebras have a complex relationship with people. They are a threatened sub-species and in places suffer from unsustainable exploitation, but they can also become locally abundant and cause overgrazing, particularly in the arid, fragile habitats that are typical of most of their range in Namibia and where their natural predators have been reduced or eliminated.

• Vultures Namibia Project: Vultures Namibia Project is a non-profit organization, staffed by volunteers. The project on commercial farms involves the farmer, his family and workers and brings the plight of vultures to the notice of these people. This project has been very successful because it involves the people living on the land and is a ‘hands-on’ project.

• World Wildlife Fund Venture Namibia: This project builds on the support that NNF has provided to conservancies in Kunene south and Erongo through helping to identify and establish such payment schemes. Two of the payment schemes and associated actions are (1) Setting up a transparent and effective payment mechanism which will allow tourists and lodge operators to make a voluntary donation towards mitigation of damage caused by wild animals such as elephant and (2) focusing on creating awareness around HWC in conservancies for tourists visiting lodges.

• Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ): The main objective of this project is to strengthen NNF support activities to CBNRM. Specifically the project focuses on consolidating the support to conservancies in the areas where NNF is already active by supporting the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET), the conservancies and the community forests to be compliant for CBNRM, to ensure a process of value chain development, which will allow an income increase for communities as well as strengthening their resilience to the effects of climate change through climate change adaptation.

• Community Conservation Fisheries in KAZA: Community-based management of river and floodplain fisheries in rivers and floodplains in the Upper Zambezi, Chobe and Okavango catchments in Namibia, Zambia and Botswana. The purpose of the project is to contribute to environmental conservation and to improve socio-economic benefits and food security, especially for women, children and the rural poor through capacity building and the development of regional and international networking platforms.

• Naankuse: Their mission is to conserve the land, cultures and wildlife of Namibia, Africa. We aim to achieve this by encouraging participation, education and innovative activity. This is a very recommendable Organisation who go all out and always have space for people interested in a broader spectrum of wildlife and more. Also, one can adopt an endangered Naankuse Animal trough their donation programs. Double thumbs up if you can put that on your CV…

• Wolwedans: The core objective of Wolwedans is to support the NamibRand Nature Reserve in its mission to safeguard and restore the pro-Namib ecosystem. NamibRand Nature Reserve’s biodiversity and habitats are effectively managed through active monitoring and innovative, adaptive management approaches. These guys at Wolwedans are also serious trailblazers in regards to conservation. A very professional and much-loved organisation of locals and internationals alike.

• Namibia Wildlife Conservation & Sanctuary: The Namibia wildlife sanctuary is fully devoted to caring for sick and orphaned animals and to supplying them with habitats which are as natural as possible. They may come to the sanctuary from many different sources; some are tame animals that the owners can no longer look after, others may have been found trapped in snares or rescued from poachers intending to sell them. The sanctuary does all it can to release these animals back into the wild, but unfortunately, this is not always possible, so that they are provided with the best possible home for the rest of their lives. P.S. Also situated at Naankuse.

     …in essence…

Namibians are living with wildlife like they are Neighbours connected with Nature, including predators and large mammals, and are managing their natural resources wisely. Worth noting is that in 2009, community-based natural resource management generated over N$ 42 million in income to rural Namibians. All the while, these listed programs are facilitating a remarkable recovery of Namibian wildlife.

Namibia now boasts the largest free-roaming population of black rhinos and cheetahs in the world and is the only country with an expanding population of free-roaming lions. Conservation here in Namibia is on top of our list and we would love to keep it that way as far as possible. Previous Research shows that Namibia’s elephant population more than doubled between 1995 and 2008 from 7,500 to over 16,000 individuals (more up to date statistics available soon). This remarkable turnaround has led some to call Namibia’s conservation efforts the greatest African wildlife recovery story ever told…. and we are very proud of this fact.

However, regarding most of the above-mentioned Projects love to invite volunteers for some side-by-side help to protect these delicate environments and ecosystems for our future generations to enjoy. Very much loved experience for Biologist and Vets the world around. Give any of the above-listed Organisations/Projects a call or email if you would love to get a hands-down practical experience which is not available in any scholar text-books. Please Note: Listed are only nine Conservation Projects within Namibia inside this Blog Post! Many more great Projects can be found Online.

Images owned by listed Projects/Organisations

• Also, read our past Blog Post regarding Bush Encroachment in Namibia.

• For international Visitors wanting to know more, have a look at our Post regarding Namibia’s Caprivi Strip.

Namibia’s Bush Encroachment Issue

We would like to inform guest’s as well as nationals on the growing issue regarding the encroachment bush issue currently burdening Namibia’s landscape. This topic is not taken lightly by most or actually all landowners of Namibia. Discussed here is the species known in Latin as Acacia mellifera, English: Blackthorn, Oshiwambo: Omunkono, Otjiherero: Omusaona, Khoekhoegowab: !noes and in Afrikaans as SwarthaakBush encroachment is the invasion and/or thickening of aggressive undesired woody species resulting in an imbalance of the grass to bush ratio, a decrease in biodiversity, a decrease in carrying capacity and concomitant economic losses. Namibia is the aridest country south of the Sahara, with scarce and unpredictable rainfall, and perennial rivers only on its borders. Over 80% of Namibia’s land area relies solely on groundwater for any economic productivity. Extensive bush encroachment, together with the effects of climate change, is putting further pressure on water resources. The Namibian agricultural sector has the potential to increase economic production provided that extensive thinning of encroacher bush is implemented – in order to restore the former carrying capacity and restore the natural recharge potential of groundwater. However, the potential benefits of bush thinning extend into other economic sectors as well.

“Near the village of Gawukeni, in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa.  Shrubs and low trees have invaded the abandoned fields in the centre of the image resulting in extensive ‘bush encroachment’ which is widespread in the region.  The original photo was taken by D.M. Commins in 1958 and the repeat photograph by PCU PhD candidate James Puttick 53 years later in 2011.” (by University of Cape Town)

Bush encroachment is severely hampering the red meat industry of Namibia and it is also negatively affecting biodiversity and the recharging tempos of certain aquifers. More than 40 million hectares of Namibian rangelands and Savannah has been degraded by encroacher bush. There is a considerable market demand for biomass in the world and the use of waste wood or unwanted woody biomass has become a sought-after commodity, mainly because of its low to a positive impact on the environment when used as a heat source. Read this article giving a deep insight into Farmers struggling to manage this ever-growing problem.

BOTANIC DESCRIPTION: Acacia mellifera is a low, branched tree with a more or less spherical crown. Black bark on stem becomes ash-grey to light brown on the branches, bearing small, short, sharply hooked spines in pairs. It has a shallow but extensive root system radiating from the crown, allowing the plant to exploit soil moisture and nutrients from a large volume of soil. The roots rarely penetrate more than 1 m. Apparently, this bush has somehow made it to Namibia, hence it isn’t an indigenous Plant within the southern parts of Africa (debated along Botanist’s hence their Latin classification of “Acacia” ?). It nevertheless is creating a massive problem within the southern Africa Fauna & Flora. Creating huge problems for the Agricultural and Wildlife field.

Swarthaak – Acacia Mellifera encroaching Bush

Acacia mellifera is a commonly occurring shrub on rangelands throughout the savannah in western, eastern and southern Africa. The terrain preference is rocky hillsides with rainfall along seasonal watercourses, mixed with other trees. If left unattended, especially if grazing is heavy and no fires check its spread, it may form dense, impenetrable thickets, 2-3 m high and sometimes hundreds of metres across, slowly taking over good grazing land. This species is extremely drought-tolerant.

The removal of encroaching bush from the Namibian rangelands would not only be regarded as an attempt to restore the savannah and its biodiversity, it would also be advantages to the subsurface water resources of affected areas. It is therefore important that methods to economically harvest biomass from encroaching bush is currently being addressed by the Namibian Ministry of Agriculture. Due to the certain years of drought throughout Namibia, the Swarthaak bush is now growing fiercely and this further overcrowds the lands and leaves no space for the natural grass to grow. Farmers and Landowners then learned that they have to come up with a brilliant solution to this problem and save their cattle from dying and at the same time de-bush their land. Bush encroachment hinders productivity on some of the commercial farms sampled, reduces underground water, and has negative effects on the Namibian economy. Results shown on Government surveys carried out with selected targeted farms demonstrate that farmers are using a range of methods to combat bush encroachment, each with limited results: Methods include 1. Burning, 2. Removal via Machinery, or via 3. Pesticides / Chemical applications (least favoured hence it filters down to the groundwater reserves).

It is generally accepted that the decline in the carrying capacity of our rangelands could be as much as 100% or more (a decrease from 10 ha per LSU too, for example, 20 to 35 ha per LSU). It is generally studied and so with accepted that on a day with good rainfall the Blackthorn or Swarthaak takes up at least 70% of the available rainwater. Therefore, at a conservative production loss of only 3 kg carcass weight per hectare and at 2002 prices (2018 prices currently not available). Namibia is suffering a loss in income of more than N$700 million per annum (LSU = Life Stock Unit). Bush encroachment should, therefore, be regarded as a societal problem to be addressed with strong support at a national level (the calculations estimate is predicated on a triple increase on the mentioned amount for the year 2018). Water shortage is always giving a constant problem and worries for the Namibian Farming community. Unfortunately, the issue of water shortage is becoming a massive global issue, for this Blog Post we are going to focus on the mentioned issue at hand. Read this informative Newspaper article for a deeper insight regarding this urgent matter!

The overwhelming factor determining the spatial distribution and productivity of forest savannas and grassland is soil moisture balance. This balance and, therefore, the soil water content have largely been disturbed by invader bush, resulting in very little efficiency in respect of water use on natural rangelands. Research findings in African savannas showed that rangelands in poor condition, i.e. bush-encroached, need three to four times more water to produce the same amount of grass compared with veld that is in an optimum state.

This problem is further accentuated given the erratic climatic features of Namibia, where – • low average rainfall • high evapotranspiration • large fluctuations in rainfall between and within years, and • low rainfall predictability have a drastic impact on the stability of people’s livelihoods.

Please do not confuse the Camelthorn Tree (Acacia erioloba) with the Swarthaak (Acacia Mellifera) these are two very different botanical species. The Camelthorn Tree of Namibia is much beloved and gives the impression to seem harmless, offering a delicious meal for hungry desert-dwelling wildlife. But don’t underestimate these beautiful trees, they are indeed very clever. On the moment when wildlife animals start snacking on the Acacia leaves, this beautiful tree goes into self-defence mode by secreting a sharp garlic-like odour as a defence mechanism which in turn repels animals. The Camelthorn tree is extremely slow growing due to the harsh Namibian environment. It deserves the utmost respect and should not be seen as an encroaching botanical species like the Swarthaak. The Acacia Erioloba carries the same pre-name “Acacia” but is not an invasive species!!

     + People making a change:

One trailblazing individual wanting to take the matters into his own hands is Mr Fanie Bosman.
Born in Namibia and raised on a free-range cattle farm where he learned to love/protect and appreciate nature. His driven nature to want to try and conserve Namibian’s nature and wildlife for Namibia’s children’s children is remarkable. He is as local as you can get! A strong supporter of Namibian’s businesses and all things Namibia.
This gave him the business Idea of using a problem (encroachment bush) towards the countries advantage on several points.
“There is nothing better than taking an environmental problem and turning it into an agricultural solution via an economic interest in mind.” Encroachment Bush in Namibia is a very, very serious Problem and needs urgent attention. This individual is trying to make a serious change which matters. Furthermore, with all help on deck, it will benefit Namibia in multiple ways, not just in Agriculture but also economically.  Mr Bosman is so passionate about this matter that he get’s external Businesses involved to help him solve this constantly growing issue. Worth mentioning, Namibia has a small number of companies offering a de-bushing service for a re-payment on per ha. on land cleared. Most of the time this service cannot be afforded by 90% of the landowners giving the invasion of encroachment bush freedom to roam and spread. However, if the undertaking of Mr Bosman succeeds the de-bushing on farmland will be offered free of charge to anyone in need of this service, taking only the gained product as compensation. Free to any landowner regardless of location. Imagine the impact! It is evident that currently (!) far too little emphasis is being placed on this matter via the Ministry of Agriculture as such. Therefore, we at Hippo Adventure Tours support his idea all the way and hope he succeeds in his undertaking.

In many ways, we therefore kindly ask the International society to have a look at the below-linked undertaking and offer their support as far as possible. These individuals are trying a serious attempt to create a change and all help is much appreciated…

   + Please visit this Undertaking for more Information regarding this Bush encroachment Project in Namibia.

Some interesting Namibian Newspaper articles and .pdf’s regarding Bush encroachment:

• New Era News Article on Water shortages

• The Villager Article with insight on the Namibian Ministry of Agriculture 

• Namibian Newspaper Article on the Camelthorn Tree

Namibian Company link selling Encroachment Bush by-products or services:

• Greencoal Namibia

• Omuramba

• Omuriro

• De-bushing Advisory Service Namibia

Although there are a couple more companies out there trying to help with the bush encroachment problem, the impact on the issue still remains far too small to make a true difference.

.pdf Downloads:

• A one-page graphical poster on encroacher species in Namibia

• World forestry document

Image rights for explanatory Graphics / Posters (middle): DAS Namibia

 

A fishing and angler’s paradise in Namibia

The northeastern parts of Namibia is a pure Angler’s Paradise for fishing enthusiasts. Have a look at the listed freshwater Species generally found throughout the Kwando/Linyanti, Okavango and Zambezi rivers. These are beautiful habitats of rich and diverse fishes. A recorded estimate of 79 species can be expected. The Okavango River offers close to 100 different species reaching up into the upper Zambezi. Namibia’s Okavango Delta is renowned as one of Africa’s top fishing destinations. Notable fish species include the various fish species which some of the most popular we will showcase inside this Blog post. The popular destination of the northeastern of Namibia remains a prefered location for freshwater anglers, both local and international visitors.

Some of the most prefered Species:

     + African Pike (Hepsetus odoe):

African Pike highly resembles the well known native European Pike. Although this species is not considered as a “Table Fish”, it’s nevertheless classified as a prime specimen for freshwater sporting fish. Their classic behaviour of leaping out of the water into the air while being on the line makes them easy to recognise. Generally, they reach a length of 46 – 48 cm and weighing around 1,5 – 2,1 kg (3,3 – 4,4 lbs). The African Pike prefers light streams and deep water and has a lifespan of approximately four to five years. Spawning normally begins in August and continues until January (certain locations have extended periods until May).

     + Threespot Tilapia (Oreochromis andersonii):

The threespot tilapia, three-spotted tilapia or threespot bream, is a species of cichlid native to most of southern Africa, which can be generally found in rivers and swamps in the southern half of the continent. Don’t underestimate this one hence it put’s up a good fight pushing every angler towards its limit. Endurance, skill and patience are mandatory. Should you be able to catch one it will provide an excellent feast as it is known for being a recommended table/culinary fish. This species reaches a general length of 61 cm (24 in) weighing in at about 3 kg (6,6 lbs). This species is also commercially farmed.

     + Tigerfish (Hydrocynus vittatus):

The renowned Tigerfish, also known as ngweshi, maluvali, tiervis, mcheni, manga, muvanga, shabani, simu kuta, uthlangi or uluthlangi remains a much loved freshwater sportfishing species. The tigerfish species is large, aggressive, silver-coloured, and certain individuals most commonly have one or more black lines running the length of either flank. This species is undoubtedly one of the most prized freshwater species due to its lightning speed, tailwalking and spectacular leaps. Did you know that most of the western game fishing world, tigerfish is considered Africa’s equivalent of the South American piranha, even though it belongs to a completely different zoological family. The Namibian weight record for this species is currently listed at 12,57 kg (27,7 lbs). The largest one on record and so with Guinness World Record holder is listed to have weighed 16.1 kg (35 lb 7 oz) – caught in the Kariba, Zimbabwe. Caught on the 12th September 2001 by Ms. Jennifer Daynes. A classic behaviour can be expected as it jumps and haggles repeatedly when hooked. Tigerfish will engage in almost any kind of bait, including lures. A wire leader is recommended due to the sharp teeth.

Other well-known species (linked):

Nembwe (Serranochromis robustus)

Thinface Largemouth (Serranochromis angusticeps)

Green Bream (Oreochromis macrochir)

Redbreast Tilapia (Coptodon rendalli)

 

Carp  (Cyprinus carpio)

Cave Catfish (Clarias cavernicola)

Smallmouth yellowfish (Barbus aeneus)

     + Something different:

Sharptooth Catfish (Clarias gariepinus):

The African sharptooth catfish lives in freshwater is an obligatory air breather, and can survive on land during drought. The African sharptooth catfish is a large, eel-like fish, usually of black or dark grey colouration on its back, fading towards a white-ish belly. This catfish aka. Barber is also able to crawl on the dry ground to escape drying pools or ponds. Furthermore, it is able to survive in shallow fields by swallowing certain amounts of mud for extended periods of time, mostly between non-rainy seasons. Despite the possible threats which include diverse predation and habitat competition with indigenous species or habitat degradation or the spread of diseases and parasites, there is a lack of knowledge regarding its ecology and population dynamics within invaded ecological systems. The world record remains at 42,18 kg (93 lbs). Some Namibian Postal Stamps below…

     + A little Note:

A freshwater angling licence is required for all inland freshwater fishing available at the Regional Council at Katima Mulilo or Rundu.

Contact us, should you be interested in a Guided or Self-Drive Tour for your next Namibian Safari heading into this region.

     + Freshwater angling regulations:

• Freshwater angling permits must be obtained beforehand. Monthly permits can be obtained from any of Namibia’s 13 regional councils at N$14.20 for Namibian residents, and N$28.40 for non-Namibians (* cost’s valid for the present date of Blog Post – prior to change without Notice!).

• In the Kavango, Zambezi and Kunene rivers plus in the Oshanas in the Owambo regions, only a limited number of nets with specific sieve sizes are allowed, and nets may not be placed closer than 100 metres to each other. All nets must be registered annually.

Would you like to know more about this specific Namibian Region?

At Hippo Adventure Tours we support responsible Hobby / Professional fishing. More in-depth detailed Information on “Catch and release” fishing / angling available here!

A complete Guide on Namibia’s Atlantic Saltwater / Oceanwater species available soon…

• Also read this Blog Post about Namibian Atlantic Deep Sea Trawling

 

World Giraffe Day 2018 Video

“Populations of giraffe, one of the most charismatic species on Earth, have dwindled precipitously over the past few decades. Now considered Vulnerable to Extinction by the IUCN, there are estimated to be <100,000 giraffe remaining.

The causes of population declines are multi-fold, with habitat loss and fragmentation, disease, competition with livestock, and local bush meat trade all being major factors; however, all are likely linked to human population growth. Conserving giraffe, as with any wildlife species in Africa, is complex and requires both scientific understanding and action from multiple stakeholders.

In May 2018, 35 experts working directly on giraffe or in thematic areas relevant to conservation-based decision-making from NGOs, academia, and African governments came together to develop a unifying Africa-wide Giraffe Conservation Science Management Framework. During this first-ever Giraffe Conservation Science Symposium, the group identified key gaps for further assessment as well as opportunities for developing partnerships and working collaboratively across Africa to help save giraffe before it is too late.” -GCF Website-

Great Conservation Clip from GCF (more details).