Tuesday, 16 May 2017



Art. # 291

TRAVEL REPORT (Tourism division)
TRAVEL & HELP (Tourism division)

Travel Report

Text by Elke Hoeltzcke and Stefan Rust
Photos by Stefan Rust

(In terms of the Geneva Convention the copyright of these texts belongs to Stefan Rust)

Traveling with BirdsConTour or making use of BirdsConTour as a partner in tourism (e.g. guiding) gives reason to scream out loud full of joy, because our mission is: Welfare and conservation through traveling! Doesn’t that give you peace of mind while traveling the world for whatever purpose; pleasure, relaxation, discovery, exploration, getting to know other cultures or building interpersonal relationships?

Travel description: Kapps Farm (BirdsConTour), Farm Gauchas (BirdsConTour), Caprivi Tour (Chamäleon Reisen and Pack Safari, led by BirdsConTour)

Country on route: Namibia – Botswana - Zimbabwe

Duration: 21.6. - 12.7.2014

Distance traveled: 3 723 Km

De Wit Hedwig & Jacobus
Freier Petra & Matthias
Goll Petra Christel & Helmut
Leicher Birgit
Ruether Melanie
Rui Giuseppe Emilo
Rui Sandro
Rui-Zimmermann Sybille
Zerbe Erna Monika & Bernhard Alexander

Saturday 21.6.
Area: Windhoek, Namibia

Weather: Sunshine, very cold

Person of the day:

Site of the day: Steinmeister Plot

Plant of the day:

Animal of the day: Elegant Grasshopper (Zonocerus elegans)

Bird of the day: Fork-tailed Drongo

Accommodation of the day: Windhoek

Sunday 22.6.
Area: Windhoek, Namibia, to Farm Gauchas, Kalkrand, Namibia

Weather: Sunshine

Person of the day: Rehoboth Baster. In 1868 the Basters migrated out of the Cape Colony and arrived in the Rehoboth are in 1870, making it their core territory.

Site of the day: Rehoboth. The Rehoboth town, with its 21 000 inhabitants, is build around several hot spring. That is why the Nama (Khoikhoi), inhabitants until the 19th century, called this area !Anis, meaning smoke. This name refers to the cloud of condensed water vapour that used to hang over the hot springs in the morning.

Plant of the day: Candle-pod acacia. During periods of food shortage the Kavango people supplement their diets with the pods and even the root-bark can be ground and eaten with porridge as a remedy when blood is lost during attacks of diarrhoea.

Animal of the day: Donkey. In southern Africa, many donkeys well over 20 years of age still earn their living pulling a cart. A donkey should not be put to work before two years of age. The moment it starts working it needs to receive good food and weigh at least 150 kg. Donkeys do not get stressed, provided they get treated firmly, yet quietly. Remember that it is illegal to use a whip to beat the animal. It’s a delight to watch an owner working with his donkeys, using only the crack of his whip and his voice to control them.

Bird of the day: Southern White-crowned Shrike. Classified as a near-endemic species to southern Africa, these two birds spotted in Namibia, 12 km south of Rehoboth, live on the southernmost distribution area within Namibia.

Accommodation of the day: Farm Gauchas, Kalkrand, Namibia

Monday 23.6.
Area: Kalkrand, Namibia

Weather: Sunshine

Person of the day: Argo Rust. As a cattle farmer almost all his life, Mr. Rust can’t imagine himself living anywhere else except on a farm. He has always been determined that his environmental farming practices had to make money, be socially and environmentally profitable.

Site of the day: Farm Gauchas. Argo Rust keeps cattle on this 2 500 ha sized farm and follows an environmental management grazing system in which a high concentration of cattle graze on an area as small as possible for a short period before being removed to the next one, mimicking the way large herds of game once moved from one area to another – only returning to an area after the necessary vegetation recovery time.

Plant of the day: Three-thorn rhigozum. This plant is a very attractive species when in flower.

Animal of the day: Yellow House Bat. They give birth in summer to litters of 1-3 young.

Bird of the day: Double-banded Courser. With its reluctance to fly, it is easily overlooked. This bird eats a high percentage of harvester termites, ants and beetles.

Accommodation of the day: Farm Gauchas, Kalkrand, Namibia

Tuesday 24.6.
Area: Kalkrand, Namibia

Weather: Sunshine

Person of the day: Fritz Kisting. Fritz is a farm worker on farm Gauchas. His father being a Damara, Fritz recalls that the Damara in Namibia use a root infusion of the African indigo plant to treat venereal diseases.

Site of the day: Farm Gauchas. Holistic grazing reversed desertification on farm Gauchas. When it comes to erosion and desertification, agriculture is one of the most destructive industries in the world. Unsustainable grazing practices affect the effectiveness of rainwater utilization negatively. Therefore the holistic grazing method applied on farm Gauchas successfully restores degraded areas of land by having increased the stocking rate for short periods on demarcated land parcels.

Plant of the day: Blue Buffalo Grass.  This is a good grazing grass. Being an extremely hardy grass it is used as summer grazing and makes excellent hay.

Animal of the day: Steenbok. Unlike other small antelope they defaecate and urinate in shallow scrapes dug by front hoofs and are afterwards covered.

Bird of the day: Speckled Pigeon. Since occupation by Mr. Argo Rust, this is the first spotting of a Speckled Pigeon on Farm Gauchas. They make extensive and regular daily movements from roosts to foraging sites.

Accommodation of the day: Farm Gauchas, Kalkrand, Namibia

Wednesday 25.6.
Area: Kalkrand, Namibia

Weather: Cloudy

Person of the day:

Site of the day: Farm Gauchas

Plant of the day: Hairy Love Grass. This species is an important soil stabilizer in disturbed areas.

Animal of the day: Black-backed Jackal. Calling is more frequent during the winter months because that is the time when mating takes place. In protected areas it is frequently active during day but it becomes a nocturnal animal in areas where it is hunted by man.

Bird of the day: Karoo Scrub-Robin. On Farm Gauchas, situated on the northern border of this specie’s distribution area, the Cercotrichas coryphoeus abbotti subspecies only lives in woodland that lines a dry riverbed.

Accommodation of the day: Farm Gauchas, Kalkrand, Namibia

Thursday 26.6.
Area: Farm Gauchas, Namibia, to Windhoek, Namibia

Weather: Sunshine

Person of the day:

Site of the day: Windhoek. Windhoek is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Namibia, having a population of 322 500 in 2012.

Plant of the day: Feather-top Chloris. It is a valuable pioneer grass because it is often the first grass to establish on bare ground.

Animal of the day: Striped Mouse. This diurnal, but also often active at night, animal makes its own burrows from which numerous runways radiate.

Bird of the day: Helmeted Guineafowl. Before 1900 this species probably never occurred south of the Orange River. This flock counts 31 members, being the only one on about 2 000 ha. They roost in trees and some roosts are used for many years. Females tend to walk flat-footed whereas the males walk erect on toes.

Accommodation of the day: Windhoek, Namibia

Monday 30.6.
Area: Windhoek, Namibia

Weather: Sunshine slightly cloudy

Person of the day: Mr. Claus Goldbeck. Manager of the Café Zoo. Born and raised in Namibia, 30 years in Switzerland and now back in Windhoek.

Site of the day: Hosea Kutako International Airport. Namibias main international airport, located 45 km east of capital city of Windhoek was opened in 1964. Since 1998 the name changed from JG Strijdom Airport to Hosea Kutako International Airport, named after the famous Herero leader and national hero Hosea Kutako.

Plant of the day: Sheperd’s tree. The Sheperd’s tree is an evergreen tree, native to southern and tropical Africa and common of the Bushveld. It can grow up to 5 meters tall, sometimes more and kudus, giraffes and birds often eat its fruits.

Animal of the day: Greater Kudu. The Greater Kudu antelope is found throughout eastern and southern Africa. They possess between 4 to 12 vertical white stripes along their torso. Females live in small herds of 6 to 20 individuals. Only the males have large, twisted horns.

Bird of the day: Grey Heron.

Accommodation of the day: Casa Piccolo.

Tuesday 01.7.
Area: Road from Windhoek via Sossusvlei to Little Sossus Lodge, Namibia

Weather: Sunshine and slightly cloudy

Person/People of the day: Topnaar. The Topnaar people themselves are an own clan of the so called ‘Oorlam Nama’ originally formed from mixed-race descendants from indigenious ‘Khoikhoi’, Europeans and slaves from Madagascar, India and Indonesia. At the beginning of the late eighteenth century the ‘Oorlam Nama’ migrated from the Cape Colony to Namaqualand and Damaraland in Namibia.

Site of the day: Sossusvlei. This “Namib Sand Sea”, located in the southern part of the Namib Desert offers some of the highest sand dunes in the world (up to 300 meters). It has been declared as a natural World Heritage Site at June 21st 2013 and is one of the most famous spots for photographers all over the world because of its red sand dunes and fantastic sunsets.

Plant of the day: Nara Plant. This is the most common plant of the Namib Desert and an unusual melon. It is endemic to Namibia and only can be found besides “Rivieres” and on sand dunes if its roots are able to reach the ground. The melons serve an essential food source for Topnaar people in dry regions.

Animal of the day: Gemsbok. This large antelope is native to arid regions of southern Africa and the Kalahari Desert. It does not depend on drinking water. In dry periods it is able to eat the highly toxic Euphorbia damarana which then covers up to 25 % of its nutrient requirements. The gemsbok can reach running speeds of up to 60 km/h.

Bird of the day: Spotted Eagle-Owl. Often a host for ticks. They bath and drink regularly if water is available but they can survive in areas without water such as in Sossusvlei.

Accommodation of the day: Little Sossus Lodge.

Wednesday 02.7.
Area: Road from Little Sossus Lodge to Sea Breeze in Swakopmund, Namibia.

Weather: Sunshine and misty at the coast

Person/People of the day: Strandloper. Their name is Afrikaans for “beach walker” and refers to coastal communities with subsidence economies based on beachcombing and marine diet. The “Strandlopers” are San-derived people who live by hunting and gathering food along the beaches of South-Western Africa. Most of their communities disappeared through assimilation during the 19th and 20th centuries. The only tribe that is still distinguishable from their assimilating neighborhood are the Topnaar people who live in small settlements along Kuiseb River in central Namibia.

Site of the day: Walvisbay Lagoon. An approximately 7 km long and up to 2,5 m deep lagoon in the south east corner of the bay area of the Walvis Bay city. It is one of the richest and most important wetlands in Southern Africa. With its richness of birdlife (up to 250 000 birds), it was designated as a Ramsar site in 1995. The lagoon is one of the best flamingo viewing localities in the world. As the lagoon together with the tidal areas is a key wetland in ecological terms, a high density of fish and marine mammals can be found.

Plant of the day: Hoodia. The Hoodia grows in Namibia and South Africa and has medical properties. The flowers smell like rotten meat and are therefore pollinated mainly by flies. The use of the meat of the plant to suppress appetite for example on long hunting trips in the Kalahari Desert has long been known by the indigenous people of Namibia and Southern Africa.

Animal of the day: Etendeka round-eared sengi. This brand new discovered sengi species is related more to an elephant as to a mouse although it is small as a mouse and looks like a mouse. It is the smallest of the 19 known sengi species and it lives in an isolated part of the Namib Desert, a small and remote arid area where it was recently discovered from a team of scientists from Namibia and California. It only weighs less than an ounce, its coat is rusty-toned and as a specialty it lives in monogamous relationships.

Bird of the day: Cape Eagle-Owl. Although classified as an uncommon species, it might occur more often than records suggest.

Accommodation of the day: Sea Breeze Guesthouse

Thursday 03.7.
Area: Swakopmund to Etosha NP, Namibia

Weather: Sunshine, few clouds

Person/People of the day: Dr. Laurie Marker. She is the founder of the Cheetah Conservation Fund CCF, based near Otjiwarongo in Namibia. Mrs. Marker has committed her life to protect the cheetah and founded this non-profit that developed a diverse range of programs to scientifically study this endangered species. One big success of the CCF was, for example, to stabilize the Namibian cheetah population to near 4 000 individuals. That means that Namibia has the largest cheetah population of any African country. Meanwhile Dr. Marker is considered one of the world’s premier experts on the wild cheetah.

Site of the day: Outjo. In Otjiherero-language the name “Outjo” means small hills. Germans founded it under the command of Colonel Theodor von Leutwein as a military base in 1897. Today it’s a city with 6 000 inhabitants, 6 schools in the direct surroundings, hospital and airstrip. It’s best known as gateway to Etosha National Park but not only for that: travelers to Etosha love to take a stop at the Outjo bakery that offers delicious German light-lunch snacks.

Plant of the day: Euphorbia damarana. The plant also known as Damara milk-bush is one of the most toxic plants in Namibia. It has been reported that the toxic milky latex of the plant is capable of killing animals and humans. Only oryx and rhino feed upon it. Desert elephants use the Damara milk-bush as a mattress to protect their sensitive soles against the rough ground.

Animal of the day: Mountain Zebra. There exist 2 different types of Mountain Zebras, the Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra, which occurs in Namibia, and the smaller Cape-Mountain Zebra, which is usually a bit smaller and can be seen in South Africa. Mountain Zebra are the only zebra species to possess a skin fold on their throats and their body is striped except for the belly. The animals generally occur in small non-territorial groups that mostly contain a male stallion and 1 to 5 mares with their young. Their preferred habitat is mountainous terrain and escarpments with a diversity of grass species. Mountain Zebras are listed as vulnerable and the Namib-Naukluft Park in Namibia was initially created as a sanctuary for the Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra.

Bird of the day: Shaft-tailed Whydah. Breeding males have mainly December till June four rectrices greatly elongated with a long slender racket at tip. Now in July they still have their breeding plumage.

Accommodation of the day: Etosha Safari Camp

Friday 04.7.
Area: Etosha National Park, Namibia

Weather: Sunshine

Person/People of the day: Friedrich von Lindequist. Friedrich von Lindequist served as Governor of German South-West Africa from November 1905 until May 1907. He developed the social and administrative structures of German South-West Africa and as an example, he introduced Karakul breeding to the white settlers of the German colony. In addition, Lindequist expelled in 1907 the first game-park, the precursor of the today’s Etosha National Park in the north of Namibia.

Site of the day: Etosha National Park. With an area of 99 526 square km the Etosha NP was founded in 1907 as a game reserve by the Governor of German South West Africa, Dr. Friedrich von Lindequist. Since then the park area was reduced several times up to 22 270 square km nowadays. It was elevated to status of National Park in 1967. The name Etosha comes from Oshindonga word meaning Great White Place, referring to the Etosha pan. The park is home to hundreds of species of mammals, birds and reptiles, including the very endangered black rhinoceros.

Plant of the day: Mopane Tree.  The mopane can be a shrub or a tall tree up to 30 m, depending on soil conditions and water availability. It can be found all over Etosha NP for example near Halali and has distinctive butterfly-shaped leaves and strange seeds. It’s difficult finding shade under a mopane tree because it’s leaflets fold together and present the smallest surface exposure of the leaf surface. In summer the leaves are fed on by swarms of mopane worms, which are rich in protein and are eaten by people either roasted or dried.

Animal of the day: Giraffe. There are 9 subspecies of the giraffe which differ in their coat patterns. They are found in numerous national parks all over Africa. Giraffes see in color and their senses of hearing and smell are also sharp. They have good all-round vision from their great height. Their tongue is about 50 cm long and their fur may serve as a chemical defence with at least 11 main aromatic chemicals that have the same function like insect repellents but also may have sexual function.

Bird of the day: Chestnut-backed Sparrowlark. Their movements are poorly understood. Currently plenty of them are present in the Etosha NP.

Accommodation of the day: Etosha Safari Camp

Saturday 05.7.
Area: Grootfontein, Namibia

Weather: Sunshine

Person/People of the day: Karl Johan Andersson. Karl Johan Andersson (March 4, 1827, in Värmland, Sweden – July 9, 1867 in Angola) was a Swedish explorer, hunter and trader as well as an amateur naturalist and ornithologist. He is famous for being one of the most notable explorers of Namibia. In 1851 he discovered Etosha pan and in 1860 Okavango as one of the first Europeans. In 1863 he became the one and only European commander of the Herero.

Site of the day: Otjikoto Lake. The first Europeans to discover the lake in 1851 were Charles John Andersson and Francis Galton. The otjikoto lake is a sinkhole lake near Tsumeb, that was created by a collapsing karst cave. Because the lake tapers into a lateral cave system it is impossible to determine its exact depth. In 1915 the “German Schutztruppe” dumped war materials like cannons and ammunition into the lake. Since 1955 it’s a national museum of Namibia.

Plant of the day: Mountain Bush Aloe. This is a species of flowering succulent perennial plant endemic to the south eastern part of Southern Africa. Its flowers are red and occur in May and June and its natural habitat consists of mountainous areas. This species of aloe is found growing from sea level up to the tops of mountains. The mountain bush aloe cleverly avoids the possibility of self-fertilisation as the stigma is able to recognize its own pollen, and only accept pollen from other plants. The leaves are used as a first aid treatment for burns.

Animal of the day: Banded Mongoose. The banded Mongoose live in savannas, open forests and grasslands in central and eastern parts of Africa. They live in colonies with a complex social structure. There is generally no strict hierarchy in mongoose groups and aggression is low. In comparison to that the relations between the groups are highly aggressive. In most breeding attempts, all females give birth either on the same day or within a few days. They often sleep in abandoned termite mounds. Banded mongoose feed primarily on insects, myriapods, small reptiles and birds and have long claws that allow them to dig in the soil.

Bird of the day: Hartlaub’s Gull.

Accommodation of the day: Ghaub Guestfarm

Sunday 06.7.
Area: Grootfontein to Divundu, Namibia

Weather: Sunshine

Person/People of the day: Dorslandtrekkers. Towards the end of the 19th century and in the beginning of the 20th century the Dorslandtrekkers (Boer-farmers based in the Orange Free State and Transvaal), undertook a series of explorations from South Africa to reach better living conditions and political independence in a territory further north. On their journey, the settlers had to traverse the vast, arid areas of the Kalahari desert, in what is today the countries of Namibia and Botswana. It was the harsh and dry conditions that they experienced in the Kalahari that gave the trek the name Dorsland Trek which means “Thirstland Trek” in the Afrikaans language.

Site of the day: Okavango Delta. The Delta serves as an oasis in an arid country. In Botswana the Okavango River reaches a tectonic trough in the central part of the Kalahari. The water of the Okvango river does not flow into the sea, it is mostly evaporated in the Kalahari. It is one of the “Seven Natural Wonders of Africa”. During the dry winter month the delta swells to three times of its permanent size and attracts animals from far around so that you can find one of Africa’s greatest concentrations of wildlife.

Plant of the day: Marula. The tree is a single stemmed tree with a wide spreading crown and a grey mottled bark which grows up to 18 m tall mostly in low altitudes and open woodlands. The fruits are rich in vitamin c and contain a walnut-sized, thick-walled stone inside. The seed kernels of this stone are high in protein and fat, with a nutty flavor. Marula oil, made from the seed kernel, is a delicious additive to meals in Africa and can also be used as skin-care. The bark is used as treatment for malaria. Well known and delicious is the fruit based Amarula cream liquor which is distributed and sold all over the world.

Animal of the day: Hippo. The closest living relatives of the hippopotamus are whales from which they diverged about 55 million years ago. The hippopotamus is semiaquatic, inhabiting rivers, lakes and mangrove swamps. An adult hippo is not a particularly good swimmer nor can it float. Territorial bulls preside over groups of 5 to 30 females and young. While hippopotamuses rest near each other in the water, grazing is a solitary activity in the evening and hippos are not territorial on land. Hippos leave the water at dusk and travel inland, sometimes up to 10 km to graze on short grasses, their main source of food. Their teeth sharpen themselves as they grind together. A hippo’s lifespan is typically 40-50 years and it is regarded as an endangered species.

Bird of the day: African Scops-Owl. Occasionally hornbills in competition with nest boxes kill these tiny owls.

Accommodation of the day: Nunda River Lodge.

Monday 07.7.
Area: Zambezi Strip (Caprivi Strip), Namibia

Weather: Sunshine

Person/People of the day: Mbukushu Tribe. Communities of the Mbukushu live on the fringes of the flood plains of the Okavango River of Ngamiland. For centuries the Mbukushu were the subordinates of the Barotse Kingdom and at least they reached the height of their powe in the mid nineteenth century. Mbukushu chiefs attained great prestige because of their “rainmaking abilities”. Further the Mbukushu emphasize the matrilineal importance of women in society so the girls go through a month long puberty ceremony and children belong to the mother’s lineage. They believe in a High God, called Nyambi, who is far and, like the wind, is invisible.

Site/Subject of the day: Popa Falls. Before the Okavango River enters Botswana, near Bagani and the Trans-Caprivi-Highway, the river drops four meters down rocks consisting of quartzite, across the full 1.2 km-width of the river, in a series of rapids known as Popa Falls, visible when the river is low, as during the dry season. Today, the region around the Popa Falls is part of the Bwabwata NP.

Plant of the day: Monkey Orange (Strychnos spinosa). Monkey orange is a thorny shrub or small tree, 1-9 m in height, indigenous to tropical and subtropical Africa. The bright yellow fruit is edible and often sun dried and used as a food preserve. It is believed that the presence of strychnine in the bark and unripe fruit along with other alkaloids are responsible for helping overcome the venom of certain snakes, such as Mamba.

Animal of the day: Nile Crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus). The Nile crocodile is a very aggressive species of crocodile that is capable of taking almost any animal within its range. The cold-blooded animals usually sleep during the day and start hunting by night. They are very social crocodiles with a strict hierarchy that is determined by size. The Nile crocodile has often been classified as worse pest fish. It seems, on the contrary, to have a very useful function in the ecosystem of African inland waters: In many areas where the Nile crocodile has been eradicated, the fish stocks have not increased but declined. This new theory has yet to be studied scientifically.

Bird of the day: Wahlberg’s Eagle. The population density of this species is almost two times higher in protected areas as in adjacent unprotected areas in southern Africa. This intra-African breeding migrant arrives August till September and departs to Nigeria up to Sudan by March and April. It is recorded that some birds remain south of Equator, a few as far south as Zimbabwe.

Accommodation of the day: Lianshulu Bush Lodge

Tuesday 08.7.
Area: Zambezi Strip (Caprivi Strip), Namibia

Weather: Sunshine

Person/People of the day: Okavango Delta People. The Okavango Delta People of Botswana consist of 5 separate ethnic groups each with their own ethnic identity and with their own language. The 5 groups are: Hambukushu, Dxeriku and Wayeyi (all Bantus) and the Bugakhwe and Xanekwe (Bushmen). Today, people from all 5 ethnic groups live throughout the Okavango Delta.

Place/Subject of the day: Bwabwata NP. The formerly Caprivi Game Park is 6 100 square kilometers and extends for about 180 km from the Okavango River in the west to the Kwando River in the east. It is now named Bwabwata NP after a village in the reserve and Bwabwata means “the sound of bubbling waters”. The park contains deciduous woodlands, dominated by trees such as wild seringa, copalwood and Zambezi teak. 339 bird species have been recorded there and the numbers of wildlife like sitatunga, lechwe, roan, kudu and elephant are steadily increasing.

Plant of the day: Sausage Tree (Kigelia africana). Its name in Afrikaans is “worsboom” (sausage tree) and it grows up to 20 meters tall. The fruit is a woody berry from 30 – 100 cm long and up to 18 cm broad; typically it weighs between 5 and 10 kg, and hangs down on long, rope-like peduncles. To humans the fresh fruit is poisonous and strongly purgative. It is eaten by several species of mammals, including baboons, bushpigs, elephants, giraffes, hippos, monkeys and porcupines and the seeds in the dung of these animals are again eaten by Brown Parrots and Brown-headed Parrots. An alcoholic beverage similar to beer is also made from it.

Animal of the day: Red Lechwe Antelope (Kobus leche leche). The red lechwe is a medium sized aquatic animal with characteristic dark markings on the forelegs. The sustainable herds are found primarily in the Okavango Delta of Botswana and the Zambezi Strip (Caprivi Strip) of Namibia. The lechwe are at home on the shallow floodplains, along swamps and rivers in areas between the reed beds. These “edge species” are excellent swimmers but cannot move very fast on dry land because they have widely splayed, elongated hoofs that only support them on soft ground. Their coat is greasy and water-repellent and they feed on aquatic grasses and graze the grasses that spring up as floodwaters recede.

Bird of the day: Rufous-bellied Heron. Classified as an uncommon species in southern Africa. Only along the Okavango, Linyanti and Chobe River and associated wetlands in Caprivi (Namibia) and northern Botswana it occurs quite often.

Accommodation of the day: Lianshulu Bush Lodge

Wednesday 09.7.
Area: Zambezi Strip (Caprivi Strip), Namibia

Weather: Sunshine

Person/People of the day: Mafwe People. Mafwe People are one of the largest groups living in Zambezi Strip (Caprivi Strip). The Mafwe people are matrilineal, so if your mother is Mafwe, you are Mafwe. Subsistence farming, hunting and fishing are still their way of life. Along the river banks they grow maize, millet, sweet potatoes, groundnuts, pumpkins and melons. They celebrate the annual Lusata cultural festival that takes place on the first Sunday of October and is one of the main features on the annual arts and cultural calendar of the Zambezi Region (Caprivi Region).

Place/Subject of the day: Chobe River. The river rises in the central plateau of Angola where it is called “Cuando’ (Kwando in Namibia). The Cuando forms the border between Namibia and Botswana. Below the Linyanti Swamp on the northern border of Botswana the river changes its name in “Chobe River”. Some 10 014 years ago, the Cuando merged with the Okavango River and flowed south to Lake Makgadikgadi but land in that area was uplifted while the river broke up into many channels and swamps and then turned east to the Zambezi River.

Plant of the day: Red Chillies (Capsicum). Christopher Columbus encountered them on his first voyage to the Carribean in 1492. Chillies did so well in West Africa that they became naturalized and now the chillies grow wild in West Africa. But besides the use as so called “Piri-Piri” in hot and spicy meals, in Africa chillies are used in a very special way. Chilli bombs are produced to protect a certain terrain from elephants. The chilli bombs are made of a combination of half crushed chilli and half elephant dung, mixed with water and left to dry. These are placed around the fields and set on fire. Elephants are driven away because they have an excellent sense of smell and do not like the spicy pungent smell.

Animal of the day: African Bush Elephant (Loxodonta africana). African Bush Elephants are the largest living terrestrial animals, being up to 3.96 m tall at the shoulders. An adult elephant may eat up to 450 kg of vegetation per day. In order to obtain this amount of food he needs 18 to 20 hours. Their large ears are used to radiate excess heat and their trunk is used for communication and handling objects and food. Elephants live in herds of related females and their young and lead by the “matriarch”, the eldest female who shows them all the water sources she knows and who decides the routes. The relations among the members of the herd are very tight. Adult males usually leave the herd when reaching adolescence to form bachelor herds with other elephants of the same age.

Bird of the day: Goliath Heron. Possibly this species falls prey to hippopotamus quite often. An encounter with an incidence of a hippo chasing a Goliath Heron during take off gave this thought. After the huge heron took off because of the approaching boat, a hidden hippo leaped out of the Kwando River in an attempt to snap the low-flying heavy bird. The hippo fell into the water and jumped out of the water a few meters onwards, mouth wide open, trying to catch the bird, unsuccessful. Was this chase a territorial defense or a deliberate hunt trying to catch the Goliath Heron for food? Adult hippos can run rapidly on the bottom of a river and hippos are selective grazers, but do they sometimes supplement their diet with flesh? Whether territorial defense or deliberate hunt, this remarkable observation provides the first hard evidence of such a phenomenon.

Accommodation of the day: Camp Chobe

Thursday 10.7.
Area: Zambezi Strip (Caprivi Strip), Namibia

Weather: Sunshine

Person/People of the day: Barotse People. Today, the Barotse (or Lozi) people live in “Barotseland”, a region in the western part of Zambia but in March 2012 their government declared Barotseland as independent sovereign state. It is said that their former kingdom stretched into Namibia and Angola and included parts of Zambia. Under British colonial administration their kingdom maintained much of its traditional authority. A king, the ‘Litunga’, who acts as a ceremonial head of State, today leads Barotse kingdom. The Barotse people are a unified group of formerly diverse tribes. They speak a complex language, Silozi, derived from several languages.

Place/Subject of the day: Katima Mulilo. It was founded on 28th January 1935 when the administrative centre of the Zambezi Strip (Caprivi Strip) was moved to Katima Mulilo which today is the capital of the Zambezi Region, Namibia’s far northeast extension. In 1971 the area around Katima Mulilo got involved in the South African Border War because it was a strategically important location and also the settlement was at the centre of the armed Caprivi conflict in the 1990s. Until now the town benefits from the military presence in terms of infrastructure and employment, and there are still a number of military bases surrounding the town.

Plant of the day: African Water Lily (blue)(Nymphea caerulea). The African water lily is found in many parts of Africa. The lily’s petals only open in the daytime when there is sunlight to reproduce or pollinate and remain closed by night. After having been pollinated the seeds float on the water’s surface and are spread via water currents or birds that eat them. When they become saturated with water the seeds sink into the mud where they germinate.

Animal of the day: Nile Monitor (Varanus niloticus). The water monitor is Africa’s largest lizard. Monitor lizards may possibly reach 2 m, of which 60% would be tail. Water monitors are fearsome predators, hunting in the water. The twin ends of their snake-like tongue collect odour particles from the air. They are able to detect differences in strength on each tongue tip and from this gauge the direction of the scent, allowing the monitor to follow scent trails. Water monitors are important predators of crocodile eggs and excellent swimmers.

Bird of the day: Lesser Striped Swallow. A pair of this species is observed roosting during the night in a rodent hole on the level ground only one meter away from the restaurant at the Camp Chobe. Read more in the next issue of Words of Feather article 300 under www.birdscontour.com, click news.

Accommodation of the day: Camp Chobe

Friday 11.7.
Area: Zambezi Strip (Caprivi Strip), Namibia, through Chobe NP., Botswana, to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

Weather: Sunshine

Person/People of the day: Mr. Roy Sesana. Mr. Roy Sesana (‘Tobee’ in his own language) is a bushman of the Basarwa group, living in Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) in Botswana. Mr. Sesana, who grew up as a hunter and never learned to read nor to write foundet the “First People Of The Kalahari” (FPK) which promotes the traditional way of life, protecting the nature. When the rights of the Basarwa-people began to decline (last in 2005) and the group was forced from government to remove from their ancestral lands within the Chobe NP, Mr. Roy Sesana and “First People of the Kalahari” took the Government of Botswana to court to seek the right for the relocated people to return to the reserve. Even if they did succeed the group still is under pressure and often prevented from hunting and water supply. For his efforts to defend human rights Mr. Roy Sesana received the “Right Livelihood Award” in December 2005.

Place/Subject of the day: Caprivi Region and its pottery. Caprivi’s unique location between Angola, Zambia and Botswana is particularly well known for its creative and skilled potters. With firewood and clay they have developed interesting burning techniques and produce vases and sculptures as well as cooking bowls. Also pottery creates an important additional income for women and their families. The radiocarbon method shows that the pottery shards, which have been found in the Caprivi region may date from the iron age and the first settlements of the bushmen.

Plant of the day: Camel Thorn (Vachellia erioloba) The tree is commonly found in Namibia. It can grow up to 17 meters high and has vicious thorns. Giraffes have a specially-adapted tongue and lips that can cope with these thorns. Camel thorn grows ear-shaped pods, which are favoured by a large number of herbivores including cattle. The wood is extremely dense and strong and good fuel for fires. The camel thorn’s seeds can be roasted and used as a substitute for coffee beans.

Animal of the day: Vervet Monkey (Chlorocebus pygerythrus). The medium-sized, mostly vegetarian vervet monkeys, with black faces and grey body hair color, are native to Africa. They have a complex and fragile social system and live in groups ranging from 10 to 70 individuals. They have been noted for having human-like characteristics and significant studies have been done on vervet monkeys for their communication and alarm calls, specifically in regard to kin and group recognition and particular predator sightings.

Bird of the day: Grey-rumped Swallow. This scarce to locally common species nests during winter months in deserted rodent burrows. Only once it has been recorded making use of such a hole on a suburban sports field. Here at Camp Chobe it nests in a deserted rodent burrow only about one meter away from the restaurant on the lawn.

Accommodation of the day: Gorges Lodge

Saturday 12.7.
Area: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

Weather: Sunshine

Person/People of the day: Mr David Livingstone. David Livingstone is Scottish medical missionary and explorer who explored the African interior within an expedition to the north (which at last failed) in the period 1852-56. He is believed to have been the first European to view Victoria Falls in November 1855. The qualities and approaches which gave Livingstone an advantage as an explorer were that he usually traveled lightly. He preached an Christian message but did not force it on unwilling ears; he understood the ways of local chiefs and successfully negotiated passage through their territory, and was often hospitably received and aided. He did contribute large collections of botanic, ecological, geological and ethnographic material to scientific institutions in the United Kingdom and is buried in Chupanga, Mozambique.

Place/Subject of the day: Victoria Falls. Victoria Falls is known as the greatest curtain of falling water in the world and is classified as the largest waterfall based on its width of 1 708 meters and height of 108 meters. But it is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world. This part of the Zambezi River is forming the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. It was described by the Kololo tribe living in the area in the 1800’s as ‘Mosi-oa-Tunya’ – ‘the smoke that thunders’. The spray from the falls rises to a height of over 400 meters and sometimes even twice as high, and is visible from up to 48 km away. At full moon, a “moonbow” can be seen in the spray.

Plant of the day: Jackalberry tree (Diospyrus mespiliformis). The jackalberry tree (African ebony) is a large deciduous tree found in the African savannas. It got its name because jackals, and other animals, eat its seeds. The fruit is edible for humans and its flavor is lemon-like. It grows on termite mounds, and this is one of its main adaptations to the hot dry climate of the savannah. These termite mounds help nourish and moisturize the plant providing the plant with aerated soil. The roots provide the termites protection and in return, these termites never eat the jackalberry tree’s wood!

Animal of the day: Sable Antelope (Hippotragus niger). Sable antelopes live in savanna woodlands and grasslands during the dry season, where they eat mid-length grasses and leaves.. They do not eat Grass, which is less than four inches high. They need a steady water supply that never should be more than 1 km out of reach because they have to drink regularly. The sable antelope is sexually dimorphic, with the male heavier and taller than the female. Females and juveniles are chestnut to dark brown, while males begin darkening and turn black after three years. Both sexes have ringed horns.

Bird of the day: Verreauxs’ Eagle. Pair members stay close together for 75-95 % of the day. At first light and dusk they are most active and their distribution closely follows that of the rock hyraxes.

Accommodation of the day: Gorges Lodge


Kind Regards
Stefan Rust

Your partner in travel business!

 (For further reading see www.birdscontour.com - News) 

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