World Rhino Day

World Rhino Day is today, September 22, and it celebrates all five species of rhinoceros: Black, White, Indian, Sumatran and Javan rhinos.

In 2010 it was apparent that the plight of the rhinoceros wasn’t known to people around the world, and most people didn’t know just how close we were coming to total extinction of this majestic species. So it was that the WWF-South Africa announced World Rhino Day in an effort to save the world’s remaining rhinos, an effort that grew to be an unprecedented success.

World Rhino Day
World Rhino Day has since grown to become a global phenomenon, uniting NGOs, zoos, cause-related organisations, businesses, and concerned individuals from nearly every corner of the world!

World Rhino Day celebrates Rhinoceroses and generates awareness of issues regarding their well-being. In recent years, rhinos have been threatened by poaching, urbanisation and pollution, which have left certain rhino species on the brink of extinction while leaving other species severely endangered.

World Rhino Day
World Rhino Day activities vary from one participant to the next. Donors and partners are able to contribute to the organisations and initiatives of their choosing. Peaceful demonstrations, classroom projects, fundraising dinners, social media awareness (#WorldRhinoDay and #RhinoDay), auctions and poster displays are just a few examples of what we all can do. There is even a World Rhino music playlist on Spotify!

We here at the Nature Travel group have a special love for the Black Rhinoceros, as it is a symbol of tenacity, resilience and brute strength here in our home country of Namibia.
Let’s all stand together and save these magnificent beasts for generations to come!

World Rhino Day

For more information browse to Nature Travel Conservation have a look at www.naturetravelconservation.com or visit https://www.worldrhinoday.org/ for more information on World Rhino Day.

Black Rhinoceros

An astonishing collection of wildlife has adapted successfully to the arid desert and seemingly inhospitable environment in Namibia. One of the most fascinating species that have managed this is the desert adapted Rhino, or as it is more scientifically known, the southwestern subspecies of the Black Rhinoceros.

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Black Rhinos (Diceros bicornis) are native to eastern and southern Africa including Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The southwestern subspecies is restricted to northern Namibia and southern Angola. Although the animal is referred to as black, its colour actually varies from brown to greyish.

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Unlike other Black Rhino populations, the ones of the Kunene region of Namibia are usually unsociable, tending to live in small groups. A mother will remain with her calf for around two and a half years. Enough time for the youngster to obtain all the vital methods of surviving in one of the toughest habitats on the planet!

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Many desert rhinos are ‘lone rangers’ who form prominent profiles on the natural landscapes. Lone bulls can be quite aggressive – worth noting if you’re privileged to spot one in the wild!

These specially adapted individuals can withstand scorching heat – in excess of 40°C (100°F) but can also cope with the below freezing temperatures common after dark in Namibia’s arid regions. Black Rhinos are least active during the heat of the day (between 10am and 3pm) when they take to the shade of large rocks. They become more active after dark when the temperatures drop. 

Adult males can weigh up to 1,350 kg, and the smaller females up to 900 kg. Birth weight is around 40kg. Adult rhinos stand about 1.6 metres tall. They only have hair on the tips of their tails, ears and eyelashes. The size and shape of the horns vary depending on where the rhino lives and also differ between male and female.  Males have thicker horns. Females tend to have longer and thinner horns. Black rhinos will live up to 35 years in the wild.

Black Rhinos are browsers (i.e. they eat trees, bushes and shrubs), as opposed to their White Rhino cousins, which are grazers. When they bite off woody plant parts, they often leave a clean-angled edge, unlike African Elephants who tend to shred the ends of branches like a toothbrush. This is achieved by the shape of the rhino’s hooked lip. Traces of this neatly bitten, woody material can be clearly seen in their dung. Remarkably, the Namib desert Black Rhino has evolved to survive without water for 2 or 3 days!

Dung piles are a common scent marking method. The Black Rhino will excrete in one spot repeatedly or create dung piles to mark their home range. They will also rub a scent gland against a tree or rock leaving a distinctive scent to mark a territory.

Black Rhinos have poor eyesight struggling to focus at a distance of as little as 30 metres. Thus they rely mostly on their superb sense of smell and sharp hearing. With a recorded speed of up to 55 km/h, they are astonishingly quick-footed and with sharp turns they run around or even right through bushes and scrub.

The population density of the Black Rhino in the desert plains of Western Kunene, Namibia, is one rhino per 100 km2, and still, the Black Rhinos in Namibia make up to one-third of the world’s remaining rhino population! That is a scary statistic.

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Unfortunately the Black Rhino is currently listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN (the southwestern Namibian population is listed as Vulnerable). The biggest threat towards the Namibian subspecies is illegal poaching. Hunting and poaching had totally eradicated their populations in the arid regions, but since the 1980’s thanks to the work of organisations like the Save the Rhino Trust the population of these national treasures has increased five times!

Join us on a Nature Travel Namibia or Nature Travel Expeditions safari to see these remarkable animals. Enquire by sending us a message on info@naturetravelnamibia.com. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gemsbok

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No other animal embodies the spirit of the Namibian desert like the Gemsbok.

The name “gemsbok” in English is derived from Afrikaans gemsbok, which itself is derived from the Dutch name of the male of the Northern Chamois goat-antelope, gemsbok.

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The beautiful Gemsbok (Oryx gazelle), sometimes called the Oryx, is a large antelope with striking black and white markings on the face and legs, black side stripes on the flanks and a long black tail. Bulls measure up to 1.2m (4 feet) at the shoulders and can attain a mass of 240 kg (530lbs). Both bulls and cows have horns. Lone bulls are common and have been known to kill attacking lions by impaling them with their strong horns!

It has adapted to living in deserts where there is almost no water to drink. Gemsbok mostly feed on nutritious leaves, grasses and herbs. To supplement their water requirements they dig for succulents and extensively eat tsamma melons. They get almost all their water requirements from the food they eat. It also uses several complex physiological methods to further reduce loss of body water.

They are gregarious and occur in medium to large breeding herds (mixed bulls, cows and calves), herds consisting of bulls only (bachelor herds) as well as lone territorial bulls.

The Gemsbok is so famous it is even depicted on the coat of arms of Namibia!

 

 

Desert Elephants – Magnificent giants of the desert

An astonishing collection of wildlife has adapted to the arid desert and seemingly inhospitable environment in Namibia.
Although not much different from other savannah Elephants Loxodonta Africana, Namibia’s desert-dwelling Elephants are special nonetheless. They are of high national and international conservation priority and have been designated as top priority for protection by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature).
In the northern Kunene Region, where rainfall averages less than 100mm annually, Desert Adapted Elephants will migrate long distances in search of food and water. For example, some of the Elephants of the Hoarusib River migrate to the Hoanib River, a distance of over 70 km (45 miles). Typically, the Elephants will drink and eat constantly for a couple of days, then make the long journey across the barren gravel plains in one long push, usually at night when the temperature is cooler.

They have adapted to their dry, semi-desert environment by having a smaller body mass with proportionally longer legs and seemingly larger feet than other elephants. Their physical characteristics allow them to cross miles of sand dunes to reach water. They have even been filmed sliding down a dune face to drink at a pool in a desert oasis. Water, dust, and especially mud are sought out for bathing and coating the skin against the harsh sun and biting insects.

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Elephants eat almost any vegetation, including grasses, herbs, shrubs, leaves, bark, seeds, and fruit. Adult bulls can consume 250kg daily, although females eat less than that. During the wet season they prefer green shoots and buds, but in the dry season desert elephants will eat camelthorn, mopane, and Ana trees and seedpods.

By living in smaller than average family units of only two or three animals, they decrease pressure on food and water resources. Researchers have noted that they destroy fewer trees than elephants living in higher rainfall areas in other parts of Africa.

The Namib Desert Elephant communicates in a highly intelligent way with others of their species. Many of their calls are low frequency calls and rumbles (below the level of human hearing) that can travel 5-10km or more. They can also make a variety of other sounds and calls including trumpeting, snorting, roaring, barking and grunting.
There is only one other group of desert-dwelling Elephants in the world. They live in Mali in North Africa.
Lifespan: 40 – 50 years in the wild
Class: Mammalia
Mass: Male: 6,000 kg (Adult), Female: 3,000 kg (Adult)
Height: Male: 3.3 m (Adult, At Shoulder), Female: 2.8 m (Adult, At Shoulder)

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Join Nature Travel Namibia on safari to see these amazing Desert Adapted animals!