Five hundred years of purityJanuary 2, 2017
The deceptive properties of gravel roadsJanuary 4, 2017
Compiled Hu Berry | Main photo ©Stephanie Ruppert
Degree of care REQUIRED AT BIRTH
When an animal is helpless at birth, unable to see or hear properly, powerless to control its body temperature, often partially naked, and requires care and nursing (such as lion cubs and human babies), it is described as ‘altricial’. The antonym ‘precocial’ describes an animal born in an advanced state of development, having hair or fur, with sight and hearing functional, and able to control its body temperature (such as springbok lambs and wildebeest calves).
Albinism AND MELANISM
Albinism in animals (as in people) is when they are born without natural, dark colouring pigment in their skin and hair, and are white, such as the so-called white lions of Timbavati in South Africa, and white springbok seen in Etosha. The antonym melanism, also a congenital condition, is when animals have a black or black-ish colour because of high amounts of the pigment melanin in the skin and hair, examples being the black zebras of Etosha and black panthers of Africa and Asia.
How communities CONSERVE THEIR WILDLIFE
The first communal conservancies in Namibia were established in 1998. Today, nearly two decades later, there are 82, concentrated in north-western and north-eastern Namibia and covering 13 million hectares. Approximately 180 000 people call the conservancies home. Translocations from core conservation areas assist conservancies to boost low-density wildlife populations. The key to resounding success of communal conservancies is the swift manner that they acquire benefits from sustainable utilisation of wildlife, both plants and animals.
The number of species worldwide is estimated at 60 000 vertebrates, 1.3 million invertebrates, 300 000 plants and 5.1 million fungi. Bacteria are omitted because they are difficult to separate into species. The total estimated number of species on Earth is estimated at 8.7 million species, of which the vast majority have not been identified.
How many leopards IN NAMIBIA?
This rosetted beauty is believed to be the second-most numerous cat species globally, after the domestic tabby. It achieves this distinction by being solitary, secretive, nocturnal, opportunistic and highly adaptable. To establish population numbers in Namibia, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism is co-operating with the Large Carnivore Management Association of Namibia, the Namibian Professional Hunter’s Association and farmer’s unions. At present the number of leopards globally are guesstimated at several hundred thousand, with several thousand being the closest statistic available for Namibia.
Elephants AND SAND DUNES
Namibia’s so-called desert-dwelling elephants have apparently adapted to living in a desert environment by having a smaller body mass, longer legs and seemingly larger feet than their savannah-dwelling counterparts, although they are not a separate species. Inhabiting 115 000 km² of arid gravel plains, rocky mountains, and ephemeral riverbeds, they have been filmed sliding down dune slip-faces after crossing sand dunes to reach a desert oasis. Accorded top national and international conservation priority, these unique pachyderms (animals with thick skins) have kinship with the only other group of desert-dwelling elephants in the world – those in Mali, North Africa, where they were forced into their desert habitat by the expanding human population.
When it gets TOO HOT
With summer blowing its hot, dry breath across Namibia, many animal species survive until the rains by entering a state of aestivation. This is an evolved response to heat and dryness that decreases body activity, lowering the body temperature in warm- and cold-blooded animals. It is descriptively referred to as ‘summer sleep’. Frogs, reptiles and freshwater catfish perform this ‘metabolic meditation’ regularly. The opposite condition is hibernation, which is a decrease in body activity caused by intense, prolonged cold and called ‘winter sleep’. Animals do not hibernate in Namibia.
Conservation THROUGH HUNTING
How can people kill animals, yet conserve wildlife through the age-old practice of hunting? Often a controversial topic, the reality is that Namibia recognises the consumptive utilisation of wild plants and animals as an integral part of its strategy to protect these irreplaceable resources from decimation. As a result of granting communal and commercial farmers ownership of the wildlife inhabiting their areas, the Namibian Government unlocked the potential monetary value of trophy hunting and it has become a valuable component of Namibia’s tourism industry.
A place WITH A VIEW
Adding to the attractions of the /Ai-/Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park is a lookout point on the western rim of the Fish River Canyon which provides an elevated platform for a panorama of what is regarded as the second-largest canyon in the world. The gigantic vital statistics of this ravine convey its size: 160 kilometres in length, 27 kilometres at its widest point and 550 metres in depth. The canyon forms part of the Succulent Karoo Biome, which is listed by Conservation International as a biological hotspot. It is also one of only two entirely arid ecosystems on the planet to earn hotspot status, providing a habitat for endemic plant species, lizards, tortoises and scorpions.
This article was compiled from Flamingo October, November & December 2010. Information has been adapted accordingly.