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Month November 2018

etosha

We’re way north, and the wifi is dodgy. So much for catching up… it’ll be a few days before a string of posts.

Meanwhile, there’s been lots of this

answer:

to the previous post

It’s a Lithops. The two bumps just to the right of dead centre. Here’s a ciggy for scale

That’s a whole plant, much beloved by plant collectors around the world. Here’s the definitive book on the subject

And you can click on this for more pictures and some sample descriptive text

Story tomorrow night, probably.

Ok, next quiz:

What’s this? Hint: almost the same place I found the Lithops

epic find!

Can you see it? I found it 3 hours ago!

If you see and identify it first, you win a 6 pack of Kokanee. Click to enlarge

Still a few posts behind. And that’s if I skip a bunch of stuff.

before Windhoek

Still more stray photo anecdotes

Here’s a western looking outdoor cafe in Windhoek (the capital city). It’s pretty much the only one. It’s surrounded by office buildings and wealthier civil servants and Chinese doing business here (there are many) hang out in the shade. Namibia, being a little hostile to habitation only has 2.6 million people. So this is a busy place

I’ve done a couple of round trips to Windhoek, at 260 miles each way, for a few reasons. There’ll be a longer Windhoek post soon.

This is an interesting town on the way there. Rehoboth. Many of the houses are architectural and pristine. It turns out that the town is mostly coloured (mixed race) people, and they’re the planning and execution behind Namibia’s building trade, and the structures are their personal skills advertisement, each doing one thing or several very well

This mansion is a very dark grey/blue and the a/c just be going overtime. He’s not the services expert

Also on the way to Windhoek are baboons. Here the dominant male scouts the route ahead

He signals an all clear and a huge family follows

Also on the way are the first termite mounds we’ve seen here. Not as dense as amazing Australia, which is quite like Namibia in some ways. The biggest ones grow with tall scrubs. I’m not sure why. Maybe shade

Here’s another

*Note: I’ve just corrected a few post-post typos here. Please keep in mind that I like to post in the evening, with beer in hand. If I’m doing a long post or several, a few beers have gone down and the error catch rate goes to near zero. Although after 6 years I’m sure you’ve figured that out.

the hunt

I have a lot of photos I can’t post here, from this day. I trialed one of them home to SJ and HK and the response was not to post it, so I’ve taken the critical 2 or 3 photos of myself out, except the “blooding”.

So, John and I headed off to Christiaan’s huge farm. Like most here, he speaks German, Afrikaans and English. His spread is 20,000 hectares and has small farmhouse, the only structure. No foreigner can buy land in Namibia anymore, so these holdings are increasingly rare as the owners die off and the children move to the cities. The government then breaks them up into smaller working pieces for blacks, the land re-distribution policy

A chat before we leave

Christiaan is going to drive, his main hand will help spot game, and John and I will shoot. That’s the rifle on the left I picked the other day after trying them all out, the Springfield 30 06. It’s a little heavier than John’s but seems to fit better

Nearly ready to go. John and I sit behind and above Christiaan, spotter behind

The German pointer. Forgot her name

We drive for a couple of hours across various landscapes

This was a beautiful plain, thinking I wish we had a geologist along to explain

We’re hunting for 2 animals to go to the farm workers. This is a regular thing as game is the diet foundation. What we kill depends on what we see and how close we can approach. On the farm there are hundreds f Oryx and many hundred Springbok, some Wildebeast and a few Zebra, all wild native stock.

I get an idea of how huge these farms are after we drive for a hour (slowly) in a straight line to get to a good lowland location.There are a few ancient 4X4 tracks, but we ignore them in favour of the bee line.

We see an Oryx about 200 yards away, facing us. John tells me this, the first, is my shot. Even with the scope it seems a hard target. Just when I’m settled in to squeeze the trigger it turns. I’ve lost my concentration, try and re-sight calmly, squeeze off a shot and miss. John looks at me a little surprised, but with a smile, as I’ve shot accurately at this distance in practice. We’ve come a long way to find the first animal and I’ve blown it.

Off we drive again. I tell John and Christiaan that I won’t take another shot until John has killed the first animal.

About an hour later, we see a small group, and John sets up for a shot. He decides it’s too far away. It’s barely visible to the eye

John’s kill shot, from about 100 yards

The Oryx is winched into the back of the truck

Mine follows immediately, after Christiaan drives on a short intercept to the pack.

How do I feel about that? It’s the traditional meat for the workers and that’s why we’re here. I’ve not being looking forward to the moment and have narrowed my thoughts to focusing solely on doing a good job at the task, going through the critical 5 or so seconds in my mind from John’s instructions and my practice.

It was a less than perfect day, from an execution point of view, due to my earlier miss. Ideal form is to return with the same amount of spent cartridges as animals: these guys probably never miss, after 100’s of years of killing to eat, not for sport.

Cleaning is fast. Both animals are “dressed” in about 20 minutes

I get “blooded” as this is my first (and between you and me, my last) kill.

So why did I do it? Because this is 100% part of my friends lives here. I eat Oryx and Springbok constantly, and Zebra once in a while. They’ve been very good to me for a month, we explore together, drink together, and I’ve accompanied them on chores in their daily lives. This helped develop the picture of what it’s like to be part of a dying breed, the white Namibian farmer.

the weavers

Willy and a farm owner’s guide drove me a couple of Peace Corps people off to some dunes at the base of the escarpment an hour away from town

That’s where we’re headed. Not much sign off the rains that came. It’s hot, about 36C

Zebras. The main population here are shorter, stockier mountain Zebras. There are lots of stories about how strong and stubborn they are.

Oryx race in front of us

To my favourite thing, a social weaver’s nest, right on the dune margin

It’s a gorgeous setting

I spend a few minutes scouting for a resident Cape Cobra as a colony this large should have one

Looking up at the entrances. So cool

We drive back to another couple of nests as the sun sets. There’s a smaller nest in the little tree to the left. I guess the more anti-social social weavers live there. That’s where I would live too I thought

The birds are busy at sunset. You can see how tiny they are in the video below

Sandhof Farm, and Crinum paludosum

Here’s an extraordinary thing.

Marika and I drove out to the Sandof Farm yesterday. It’s here, 40K north of town, in the middle of nothing. The only significant feature is the pan to the east

The drive. There’s a tinge of green after the rainstorm

The farm

The main farmhouse was built in 1909. The current owner lives in Swakopmund, 425K away and his son-in-law loosely keeps the operation going. It was an exceptionally grand place, in its day

Now, 100 year old lace is in tatters in the windows

The windmill

The workers keep a small vegetable garden going

And sheep

Then we head to the main event

Just a kilometer

We get to a huge pan. It’s 750 hectares, 1850 acres. That’s the truck, the white dot

Looking the other way. it’s huge

On the surface, bulbs

Clustered like this

And this is what the man looks like in February, when it’s 6″ deep in rain water during the rain season. It must be one of the great floral sights anywhere in the world, here in the desert

Marika took that photo, a couple of weeks past its prime. Here’s a pic from the web, at this pan, of peak flowering. I apologize for the kid in the photo, from the web

A back of the envelope calculation shows about 900,000 plants, 5 or 6 that many flowers. Click the link for a full description of this Amaryllis. A close-up of the flower

When the blooms start to wilt, 100’s of thousands of giant weevils (Brachycerus ornatus) appear from somewhere to eat the blooms. Pic from web

We got lucky, Marika found a dead one

Close up

Also, there were clusters of shells. The eggs must be hibernating in the pan

We walked down to the pan outflow

The rains had triggered seedlings into growth. They’ll fail without further rain, not expected for another 2 months

filler 2

Random moto