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False Vulture project A vulture hide together with an observation restaurant has been built on the Namib Rand Nature Reserve. Poison- free carcasses are provided for the endangered Lappet- faced vultures in the area, and it’s hoped the project will help protect the birds as well as provide an opportunity for researchers and interested tourists to closely observe them. The project is a joint scheme between NamibRand Nature Reserve, Raleigh International and the Vulture Study Group of Namibia. DID YOU KNOW? There is a horse grave site just outside Swakopmund where more than 1650 horses and 944 mules were shot in 1915 by the South African Army to prevent the spread of a deadly disease. E ight years ago skippers on Mola Mola Safaris started feeding an orphan Cape Fur Seal pup that appeared on the beach at Walvis Bay. Now the seal, named Robbie, is so fond of the staff he’s climbing onto the back of their boats for his morning snack – much to the delight of tourists. A number of other seals have started to copy him, but Robbie remains the crews’ favourite. “ He doesn’t snap and takes his fish gently from them. When guys show him the fish is finished he turns around and jumps off the boat again,” said Megan Dreyer of Mola Mola. “ He stays in this area all the time, but as he is now adult he disappears for mating in November and December. This year he returned with one tooth missing which shows he is putting up a good fight for the ladies!” she added. Whenever the south- western Namib is hit by a drought the wild horses there are among the first animals to suffer. The animals, which live in the area around Garub, 20km west of Aus in the Namib, have a tough life. Often their ribs stick out sharply because of hunger. Rainfalls are rare and unreliable, just enough to support succulents, thorny shrubs and grasses. In the droughts of 1991 and 1998 grazing became even scarcer and the weaker horses died. The plight of the horses made headlines internationally and resulted in an expensive relief effort. It also resulted in the rekindling of an old debate: should P rotecting the wild horses All aboard R obbie the Cape Fur Seal T he wild horses can go 72 hours without a drink the horses be allowed to live in the Namib at all? Some people argued that, as an introduced species, they disrupt the indigenous plant and animal life – a glaring discrepancy from the aims of the nature reserve. But the horses have become a tourist attraction and as such generate jobs for local people. Biologist Telané Greyling has been researching the problem. She’s found that the plant and animal life is similar in neighbouring areas to the ones where the horses graze, suggesting that the horses have no detrimental impact on the land. Following her research she’s recommended that a core population of 130 horses is supported by providing food and water in times of drought. This would secure the long term future of the herd. More information can be found at www. wild- horses- namibia. com Mola Mola Safarisafaris Gondwana Collection Travel Namibia 13

False 14 Travel Namibia Two new border crossings have been opened between Namibia and South Africa, giving some exciting new possibilities for the more adventurous self- drive tourist. The first new crossing is at Mata Mata in southeast Namibia. It means that travellers can now drive right through the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park without a lengthy detour. The park is shared between Namibia, South Africa and Botswana and is famous for its Kalahari landscapes and its wildlife, including lions. The second new crossing is at Sendelingsdrift in Namibia’s South West on the Gariep/ Orange River. A ferry shuttles back and forth between the two river banks allowing visitors to travel from the Namibian side of the Ai- Ais/ Richtersveld Transfrontier Park directly into the South African part. This area is known for its mountain scenery and forms part of the Succulent Karoo Desert which boasts more than 6,000 plant species. It is the most bio- diverse desert on earth and The Richtersveld was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites at the end of June. Among its most intriguing endemic plants is the conspicuous ‘ Halfmens’‚ a stem succulent whose silhouette often resembles that of a human figure. For anyone in a 4WD vehicle, the new border crossing point and ferry service open up an alternative route from South Africa’s Cape Town to southern Namibia. From Cape Town you can drive along the West Coast to the Richtersveld, then cross the Gariep/ Orange River and continue on the northern bank to towards the Fish River Canyon, or straight north to Rosh Pinah and on to the Wild Horses at Aus as well as the diamond ghost town of Kolmanskop and the harbour town of Lüderitz. DID YOU KNOW? Namibia is home to approximately 25% of the world’s cheetah population, of which 90% live on farmland. Xxxxxxx Sandbagged These are a few of our favourite books here at Travel Namibia. n David Gilman’s The Devil’s Breath ( Puffin, £ 6.99) is a cracking read for teenagers on holiday in Namibia. Hero Max Gordon recruits the help of San Bushmen to help find his missing dad. n Skeleton Coast, by Amy Schoeman ( Struik, £ 29.99), contains some of the most beautiful pictures available of Namibia and is a fascinating account of the history of this eerie coastline. n Namibia - The Bradt Travel Guide (£ 15.99), by Chris McIntyre, is an up- to- date and reliable guide to the country. Thirty thousand bags had to be filled with sand to transform the Damaraland Camp in the Torra Conservancy. The sandbags were used as eco- friendly bricks which were then plastered over to provide new walls in the camp’s ten tents, which have doubled in size and been thatched to keep them cool. Back in 1996 the camp was Wilderness Safari’s first venture in Namibia. It has won several awards in conservation and sustainable community development. The area around the camp is very fragile, and once a pathway has been made it is very hard to rehabilitate the ground afterwards. In order to protect the landscape during the re- development, areas were sectioned off by tape to stop builders walking or driving over them. Plans were also altered to protect an old aloe tree. In total, around 60 local people were employed for the work. Many of them had worked before in building and construction, but were unable to find steady jobs in Namibia. One man walked 40km to the camp to ask for a job - nobody can say no to that type of determination! BOOK CASE B order bonus Moro >> News · views · people · places · conservation · community · wildlife · culture D amaraland Camp The succulent Karoo after rain Gondwanaondwanaondwana Collectionollection Wildernessildernessilderness Safarisafaris