NAMIB SAND SEA - UNESCO NATURAL WORLD HERITAGE STATUS
BirdsConTour CONGRATULATES with launch of “Water for Sossus Birds” project
Photos and text by Stefan Rust
(In terms of the Geneva Convention the copyright of these texts belongs to Stefan Rust)
BirdsConTour congratulates Namibia for the inscription of the Namib Sand Sea on the World Heritage List!
Namibia offers within its borders a number of remote areas of wilderness. At first glance some areas seem desolate and uninspiring but exploration showed that by sustaining the specialized and unique fauna, flora and landscape, these areas are valuable national assets. One such area is the Namib Sand Sea, a unique coastal fog desert with a diverse range of large dunes, being registered as a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site on the 21st of June this year.
In history part of the Namib Sand Sea lying along the arid Namibian coast of the South Atlantic was protected for diamond-mining potential, but mining left no scars because it never happened.
Today this 30 000 square kilometer large Unesco Natural World Heritage Site lies within Namibia's Namib-Naukluft Park, bordered in the north by the Kuiseb River, in the east by Sesriem and in the south by the Sperrgebiet National Park.
One key issue is to prevent mineral exploration. Another key issue includes managing the increasing flow of visitors into this area and the thereby followed impact on nature, especially in Sossusvlei, a major attraction containing large dunes and a salt and clay pan, located in the heart of the Namib Sand Sea.
Water feeders for the Sossusvlei birds
Inappropriate management of this arid and thus highly sensitive area can have devastating consequences and therefore bird conservation and tourism (BirdsConTour), coordinated by Stefan Rust, took action in the matter of the birdlife by launching the project “Water for Sossus Birds” in Sossusvlei. This project underlies the division “Travel gives Wings” of BirdsConTour.
It is scary what devastating footprints guests cause with their visit to Sossusvlei. A research showed that every guest climbing the dune Dune 45, walking to the Death Vlei and back and/or walking in the surrounding of Sossusvlei unconsciously kills with his or her stay an average of ±50 small animals (ants, beetles etc.). With hundred guests per day this is a loss of ±5 000 potential food items of in this case birds. Given the fact that most birds living in this hot and dry part of the Namib Desert prey on small animals to replenish their body moisture as an alternative to water, these footprints left behind by the guests cause a big loss in possible moisture for the feathered animals. This results in a severe decrease of the natural bird population in this area.
The water feeder gets either attached to the wiper, a tree or put onto the ground for the birds to replenish their body moisture. This "Water for Sossus Birds" project is a joint venture between BirdsConTour, Pack Safari and Chamäleon.
To counteract this negative influence and to help the birds to replenish their body moisture, BirdsConTour together with Pack Safari and Chamäleon (German travel company) came up with a solution. Every tour guide who leads Chamäleon guests into the Sossusvlei area takes a portable water feeder, constructed and funded by BirdsConTour, along. When the tour vehicle is parked at the 4x4 parking area, the guide fills the water feeder and hangs it to the wiper, a tree or puts it onto the ground close to the Pack Safari tour vehicle. With peace of mind, the Pack Safari guide together with the Chamäleon guests can now go and discover and enjoy the Sossusvlei area, while the birds can refill their needed body moisture with water as an alternative for the small animals that are destroyed unconsciously by each visitor.