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Study Namib Desert Adaptions

Faculty-LedFaculty-Led | Ecology & Conservation Namibia

Overview

The name Namib means ‘place of no people’, a term that is indicative of the harsh and barren conditions that the desert presents. It has mountains, gravel plains and massive sand dunes and it is one of the oldest and largest deserts on earth. Rainfall in the Namib is highly unpredictable and infrequent. Because water is essential for life for any living creature to thrive, the conditions in the Namib would lead one to conclude that no life can be sustained there. However, there is a large variety of animal and plant species that make their home here because they have adapted to the conditions at hand. The Welwitschia mirabilis is a plant endemic to the Namib Desert and there are also elephants and lions that have adapted to living there. This module gives students the opportunity to discover and study a selection of flora and fauna that live and thrive in the desert conditions because they are adapted to it in at least one major way. A lot of time will be spent in the field in order to help the students’ minds marry what they are taught in lectures with life as it unfolds in the desert on a daily basis.

Location

Starting off in Windhoek, students will travel through to Spitzkoppe, Etosha, Skeleton Coast and Swakopmund as they engage in field work, lectures and discussion sessions. Accommodation will be in places that are conducive to the exploration of the variety of species to be studied. Each location has been selected for its unique features that make it a practical site for the portion of the program that it is designed for.

Educational Outcomes

Intensive study of the physiological and habitual traits that make the following and other flora and fauna able to thrive in the Namib Desert:

  • The Welwitschia mirabilis, camelthorn and lipthops
  • Desert adapted elephants, lions and oryx
  • The African ground squirrel
  • Weaver birds
  • Sand-diving lizards
  • Dune beetles

Where possible, the animal or plant in question will be observed in its territory to get a clear perspective of its adaptation qualities.

Module Length

The minimum duration for this module is 6 days.  The maximum length is 14 days – longer modules would incorporate additional study locations and subject-matter.

Program Coordinator

Barry Rawlings

Barry graduated with a Bachelor of Social Science Degree from the University of Cape Town. With his tertiary education background in sociology, economics and law, plus experience in the financial services sector, Barry moved from Cape Town to Harare about ten years ago before taking on a role as the General Manager for Edutours Africa.

He is in love with Africa and counts the opportunity to introduce others to this continent and its people an absolute privilege.


Featured Experiences

Gobabeb Research and Training Centre

This internationally recognised facility is well known for it’s contributions to dryland research. Besides it’s identity as a powerhouse for desert research, the Gobabeb Centre strives to impart awareness about environmental challenges and conservation projects through comprehensive training programs. These programs are offered to individuals from many walks of life, from international students to local farmers.


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