18 Travel Namibia Moro >> News · views · people · places · conservation · community · wildlife · culture DID YOU KNOW: An eland can jump 2.5 metres from standing " AS SOUTH WEST AFRICA proceeded along the path to independence, Etosha hosted many visiting dignitaries who were invited to relax during their busy schedules and enjoy the wildlife. One morning the delegation landing at Okaukuejo was particularly high-powered. Several of the names echoed in the halls of power at international level. ' Mopanie' and ' Tambotie', the luxury bungalows, were allocated to the top VIPs and long trestle tables were arranged on the lawns, where a barbeque was to be held that evening. An impressive amount of meat was draped along the grills, and there was an imposing choice of South African wines and spirits for the guests to quench their thirst at sunset. According to witnesses, the evening's proceedings were memorable, with a mass of empty plates and bottles left on the tables late that night. A sharp, authoritative knock sounded at my door early the following morning. Two burly men, one in uniform, stood waiting for me. They introduced themselves stiffl y, and asked if they could come inside. I invited them into the lounge and sat, somewhat uncomfortably, as I waited for them to speak. The military attaché produced a small container, saying, " I've been told to give this to you. There's a message inside". I read the handwritten note fi rst. It said: " His Excellency unfortunately fractured his dentures last night and has requested that you do your best to repair them. Please regard this as the SPOTTED! Cementing relations Hu Berry was chief biologist at Etosha - a job that had included some utterly bizarre moments. . a yellow- bellied waxbill, close to Kunene River Lodge on Namibia's border with Angola. It's the fi rst sighting of the bird in southern Africa. Nobody has managed to get a photograph of it yet. Let us know if you achieve it, and we will publish your shot. highest priority." I opened the packet. A set of lower dentures lay smiling, rather crookedly, up at us. My research at that time included taking dental impressions of immobilised lions and wildebeest, and estimating the animals' age by looking at the wear and tear on their teeth. It meant I had an array of dental aids at my disposal. Over at the laboratory I aligned the cracked dentures, applied quick- setting cement and clamped the broken halves together. We waited for the adhesive to set before the aides, with their expressions suitably serious, strode towards the bungalows to present the precious consignment to its owner. Later, I received a thank you note from the wearer of my restorative efforts. Not only had the dental plate held together during the critical period when he made a key speech the next day, they were still intact a few weeks later. He told me that the dentures had broken when he took an overzealous bite from a juicy, but bony steak. Not surprising - even Etosha lions display broken canines after gnawing on a tasty bone."
" WE WERE THRILLED ON A RECENT TRIP to Gemsbokvlakte in Etosha National Park to witness a really exciting and fascinating black- backed jackal hunt. A group of jackals took down a young springbok. The springbok struggled valiantly, and managed to recover and survive the fi rst attack. At this stage only fi ve jackals were involved, but the commotion attracted more and, having taken refuge in the water of the waterhole, the young antelope was set upon by a number of other jackals. It eventually succumbed to its attackers. Jackals are known to prey occasionally on small antelope like springbok, but sightings are rare. Even rarer are photographs documenting such events." RICKY AVERIA, WILDERNESS SAFARIS SEPTEMBER 2009 Travel Namibia 19 Biltong ? Biltong? What's that then? It is a dried strip of meat that is the Namibians' snack of choice. Babies even teethe on it. ? So it's just a chewy bit of old beef? Not just any old bit. And not just beef. Kudu, springbok, wildebeest, impala and ostrich all make great biltong. It's carefully cured using spices like coriander, sprinkled with vinegar and salt, then dried. ? So it's like beef jerky? Sort of - but don't let a Namibian hear you say that. Biltong is thinner than jerky, it's not smoked, and there's no vinegar in jerky either. Oh, and biltong is much, much tastier. Of course. ? Where did it come from? Legend has it that cattle herders would put strips of meat under their saddles. The chafi ng would tenderise them, and the sweat would act as a preservative. ? Stop, it's enough to make you become a vegetarian. OK, OK, a more palatable ( and probable) explanation is that southern African pioneers sun- dried meat using vinegar from the Cape vineyards. The Cape was a halfway stop on the Spice Route from the east, so there were plenty of spices around to add taste. ? Any recommendations? Sure. Try the beautifully soft springbok biltong from the Kalahari Meat & Biltong Supplies on Sam Nujoma Drive in Windhoek. ANOTHER STEP HAS been taken to achieve a fence- free Namib Desert. Fences are coming down between the NamibRand Nature Reserve and the neighbouring Kulala Nature Reserve. This will allow movement of animals across the area. Together the reserves make up 210,000ha of land. Kulala is owned by Wilderness Safaris, and both organisations have agreed to work together in the interest of conservation. In future, wildlife management and research within this area will be carried out on a cooperative basis. Similar schemes between other neighbours are planned as part of the Action for a Fence Free Namib Desert initiative, an initiative to open and secure a healthy and extensive desert ecosystem. Don't fence them in WILDERNESS SAFARIS GUIDE POST INSTANTEXPERT WOLWEDANS