Text and artwork Helge Denker
Over 700 bird species have been recorded in Namibia.
About 17 of these are endemic or near-endemic species, the exact number depending on which expert you speak to or which book you consult.
However, these birds occur basically only in Namibia, with very small percentages of some populations ranging into south-western Angola or the northern parts of South Africa. One species occurs only in the dunes of the Namib Desert and has never been recorded outside the borders of Namibia. These birds are unique to this unique country.
Namibia is a twitcher’s paradise. A twitcher is a really serious birder who travels the globe to see and tick off as many species on his list as possible. So if you can tick off 17 really unique birds while visiting a country, as well as a whole lot more that you might also be able to see elsewhere (and where you would therefore no longer need to go), then you must be making pretty good progress with that list – all on one breathtakingly spectacular trip. But you don’t need to be a twitcher to enjoy birding or seeing birds that occur only in Namibia and nowhere else on earth.
The birds in the country are beautiful – and some of them can even sing. Even better, they mostly live in really spectacular surroundings.
You also don’t need to be a stamp collector to enjoy the stamp issue that NamPost brought out early in 2012 as a celebration of Namibia’s endemic and near-endemic birds. The stamps are exquisite and show not only the birds, but also the spectacular landscapes they live in.
This stamp series is rather like a mini-guide to the near-endemic birds of Namibia. The stamp sheets even feature a distribution map and a brief description of each bird. So just buy the stamps and don’t worry about that field guide.
Once you’re done birding, you can stick them on the postcards, letters and parcels you send back home. Okay, okay, I know you’re only planning to send SMSes, but everybody does that, so be different! Use a pen, write on paper, send a postcard, write a letter, or send a small parcel of Namibia to someone you really like… and enjoy the birding!
You can buy the stamps at any post office around the country, or by contacting NamPost Philately Services at +264 61 201 3097 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Birds featured on the stamps:
1. Carp’s Tit Parus carpi (near-endemic)
2. Hartlaub’s Spurfowl Pternistes hartlaubi (near-endemic)
3. Herero Chat Namibornis herero (near-endemic)
4. Rüppell’s Parrot Poicephalus rueppellii (near-endemic)
5. Rüppell’s Korhaan Eupodotis rueppellii (near endemic)
6. Rockrunner Achaetops pycnopygius (near-endemic)
7. Damara Tern Sterna balaenarum (breeding near-endemic)
8. Bare-cheeked Babbler Turdoides gymnogenys (near-endemic)
9. White-tailed Shrike Lanioturdus torquatus (near-endemic)
10. Dune Lark Calendulauda erythrochlamys (endemic)
11. Damara Hornbill Tockus damarensis (near-endemic)
12. Violet Wood-Hoopoe Phoeniculus damarensis (near-endemic)
This article appeared in the April 2012 edition of FLAMINGO Magazine.