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sossusvlei

Sound recording & camping in the African wilderness – Part 2: Namibia & South Africa

Read part I about recording & camping in Botswana here

Namibia is a land of extremes: huge empty deserts with glowing red sand dunes and rock formations shaped as if placed by giants, a wild coastline littered with shipwrecks, whale carcasses and immense seal colonies, lakes and salt pans attracting all the wildlife that you’d expect from an African country, and lush green tree and shrub savanna in the Caprivi strip bordering Botswana, Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Its natural extremities not withstanding, this is a country easily traversed by car, boasting endless straight-lined gravel roads through its vast expanses of nothingness and national parks. Unlike Botswana, a 4×4 vehicle is for many areas not even a necessity, though having one opens up parts of the country that would otherwise be inaccessible. As for our trip specifically, we only needed the 4-wheel drive engaged on a couple of trails in Namib-Naukluft national park.

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Black Rhino quietly moving through the bush

We have all heard the dire stats around rhino, but for the sake of making a point, let me just repeat here that in the case of the black rhino there are currently roughly 4900 left in the wild, and at the current rate of poaching they will be extinct by about 2020. To complicate matters, black rhino are notoriously aggressive, in particular a mother protecting her child, and allegedly about 50% of rhino deaths are due to them fighting amongst each other. Not very helpful, everything considered!

The Zimbabwean reserve where I have been staying now for the last two months whilst following the FGASA field guide training, have a  number of black rhino within the boundaries of their fence, which exists for the sole reason of protecting the rhino. No one here likes having a fence around a natural reserve, but there is sadly no choice if you are going to have rhino as a resident species. Besides the fence, other protective measures include 24/7 patrolling of the fence by multiple anti poaching units armed to the teeth, and sawing off rhino horns to make them less attractive to poachers. Removing their horns is yet another necessary evil that no one here is pleased with, but better to have a live than dead rhino with a stump for a horn.

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