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inyathi

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inyathi last won the day on October 23 2016

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  1. @jeremie I think this is fantastic news, being able to move so many animals to the park in short period of time will kickstart tourism in Zinave much faster than would have been the case otherwise, it might still be a little while before game viewing can really compare to parks in neighbouring countries. However it should mean that in the next few years once they are able to release animals from the sanctuary visitors will be able to see a decent amount of wildlife in the park. Zinave will become somewhere worth visiting to see the big game and not just somewhere to go out of curiosity because you want a bit of adventure and have done Kruger and other South African or Zimbabwean parks. Zinave also has the great advantage of being close to the Mozambican coast, it’s really not at all far from Zinave to the Bazaruto Archipelago a marine national park which should soon be joining the portfolio of parks managed by the African Parks Network. Depending on the state of the roads I would guess it shouldn’t be more than a few hours’ drive to get from Zinave to the coast or vice versa, this should mean that if you are staying at the coast you could leave after breakfast and get to your camp in Zinave in time for lunch, or leave after lunch and be there for dinner. Or you could of course fly and get there even quicker, either you could have the perfect combination of beach and bush if you’re keen on diving and or snorkelling or just relaxing. I assume that quite a few tourists already visit Bazaruto and the neighbouring coast and I’ve no doubt when it becomes easy to do so they will happily visit Zinave at the same time. Once a reasonable number of people have been and have reported back that they had a great time in Zinave and saw plenty of animals then the park will really be back on the map. In time I’ve no doubt the focus will then shift to restocking the larger Banhine NP if these animals thrive in Zinave they will then provide a source of animals for Banhine. Here’s a map of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area showing the different national parks (+Malapati Safari Area).
  2. @Wenchy Thanks that's good to know, I didn't really think that another war was that likely, although I haven't followed the political situation in Niger. I was really just thinking about how civil wars in Sudan and the DRC made saving the northern white rhino all but impossible and how so much wildlife in Africa and other parts of the world like Indochina has been lost because of wars, the Angolan giraffe (a subspecies of the southern giraffe) while thankfully common in Namibia is completely extinct in Angola because of the civil war there, before the war giraffes were very common in the south of the country. Even if another war in Niger is not likely, it's hard to predict the future with any certainty so I think it should at least be in the back of people's minds. That's an interesting point about tourism, if tourists could see giraffes just as well in W would they still go to Koure? This issue reminds me a little bit of the situation with lions in India where people in the state of Gujarat feel that the last Asian lions belong to them and are not willing to allow some to be taken to Madhya Pradesh to establish another population. One can understand that they feel that they have something unique that the rest of the country doesn't have and that brings them tourists and they don't want to lose that even if it would be the best thing for the animals. Unlike in India the people of Koure are probably not in a position to stop conservationists from capturing and moving some of the giraffes if someone decides to do that, or of course if the population is well protected and growing then I suppose it's not impossible that some could in time make their own way to W. Either way I'm not sure quite sure what the answer is because the giraffes obviously can't be confined to Koure indefinitely, establishing a new population or just continuing to grow the current one has to be the priority, but I wouldn't want to see the people of Koure deprived of a good income from tourism.
  3. I guess I didn't pay quite enough attention when I looked at Rookmaaker's rhino distribution paper having read it before and had it in my mind that Heinrich Barth found his rhino spoor on the east bank of the Niger River, but then consulting the Mammals of Africa I discovered when it was too late to go back and change it that it was in fact west of the river. The paper includes the coordinates of where he found the alleged spoor, out of curiosity I copied them and pasted them into Google Earth and this took me to a spot somewhere to the south west of Niamey. I guess this is the right place but the one previous time when I've typed some GPS coordinates into Google Earth it took me to the right area but not exactly the right spot when I zoomed in, it appeared to be some miles out. I guess though we will never know whether there really was a rhino in this area. Interestingly the 2nd edition of the Kingdon Field Guide has a map that shows a very similar distribution to that in the genetics paper suggesting a very slightly larger distribution in the West, where as the Mammals of Africa doesn't have a historical distribution map but in the text cites Rookmaaker's research on rhino distribution in West Africa suggesting the Lake Chad area as the likely western limit.
  4. I’ve just been reading this interesting paper on black rhino genetics a subject that was evidently poorly understood, piecing together the genetic history of these animals has been made very difficult due to the rapid and catastrophic decline in their population. Extinctions, genetic erosion and conservation options for the black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) It is interesting to see the distribution that they have gone with; I believe there is s till a question mark over the distribution of black rhinos in West Africa, my understanding is that there is really still no definitive proof for the presence of black rhinos further west than North Eastern Nigeria and the far west of Niger basically the region around Lake Chad. Whereas their map shows rhinos as far west as Benin and Burkina Faso, some other maps online show rhinos as far west as Senegal. The only actual evidence of black rhinos much further west than Lake Chad is some rhino spoor that the 19th century German explorer Heinrich Barth allegedly found on the east bank of the Niger River in 1853, I would guess somewhere between Niamey and ‘W’ National Park. Barth was familiar with rhinos having encountered them near Lake Chad but did not believe they occurred so far west he never saw the actual animal only its spoor. This is of course all sadly somewhat academic now as black rhinos are entirely extinct in Western and Central Africa now, the rhinos due to be reintroduced into Zakouma NP in Chad next year will be coming from South Africa I’m not sure if I’ve posted this before but here’s a paper on the distribution of the black rhino in West Africa. Historical distribution of the black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) in West Africa
  5. As an update to what I said earlier about the rhinos, I’ve just been reading a paper on black rhino genetics which I will post shortly, according to this paper the East African black rhino population established firstly in Addo NP in South Africa and then moved to Thaba Tholo Game Farm in Limpopo is descended from animals captured in the Makueni district of Kenya south east of Nairobi and the captive population at Dvur Kralove Zoo is of Tsavo origin. I don’t think it mentions the Port Lympne Zoo rhinos so I don’t know what their origins are but I wouldn’t be surprised if they are also of Tsavo origin, a pair of rhinos from Port Lympne were donated by the Aspinall Foundation to the rhino sanctuary in the Grumeti Reserve in the Serengeti but this sanctuary isn’t doing as well as Mkomazi’s for various reasons. Some of the SA rhinos were sent to the Ngorongoro Crater and more recently to the Serengeti, the rhinos in the Central Serengeti are otherwise descended from a few last survivors that were joined by other survivors from the Crater and those in the north of the park crossed over the border from the Mara.
  6. @Tom Kellie I’m sorry you’re not able to see videos it must be pretty frustrating, but at least you can see the rest of Safaritalk. Yes I just posted a couple of videos showing the transportation of the rhinos to Akagera, the second one is from the news channel Kigali Today and is interesting because it features Jes Gruner the manager ‘park warden’ of Akagera talking about the rhinos. I know that when reintroducing rhinos it’s generally recommended to start with a founder population of around 20 animals, he explains that it is necessary to try and introduce the rhinos all in one go or at least within a very short time period of ideally no more than four months. Black rhinos are extremely territorial so if the first animals have already settled in and established territories when the next batch arrives they will end up fighting and this could result in animals being killed which you certainly don’t want. If they are all released together then they will hopefully all go off in search of their own territories without too much fighting. He also explains about all of the improved security measures that they have put in place to keep the rhinos safe. Given that this enterprise has cost $2 million I’m sure APN are confident that the security measures they’ve put in place will keep the rhinos safe and that they will soon be able to announce the birth of the first new Rwandan calves. The arrival of these rhinos is very important for the East African black rhino population. I hope that in time they will establish a rhino exchange with Tanzania and Kenya so that bulls can be traded when necessary, such an exchange already exists between Malawi and South Africa. In the Majete Game Reserve in Malawi if a single bull has fathered more than a certain number of calves they may decide it’s time for him to move on and they will then capture him and send him down to a reserve in South Africa in exchange for a new and unrelated bull, helping to maintain genetic diversity in both populations. As is the case in Rwanda black rhinos had become completely extinct in Malawi albeit slightly 20 years or so earlier back in the 80s and were reintroduced not that long afterwards from South Africa first to a fenced sanctuary in Liwonde NP and then more recently to Majete Game Reserve. They're managed as a single population to keep them genetically healthy, in time I would assume that APN will establish a third population in Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve. Operating a similar system in East Africa should help to avoid the issue of inbreeding depression which could otherwise be a serious problem. The genetics of black rhinos is evidently quite poorly understood and many entire populations have been wiped out and surviving populations mixed up, I have just been reading a paper on this subject which I will post in a new thread.
  7. @Tom KellieYes there was a video. Last year a young female rhino called Eliska born at the Dvur Kralove Zoo was shipped out to Mkomazi by the company DHL to join the breeding herd, she has the potential to produce 8 to 9 calves so her arrival is very important for the Mkomazi rhinos. The video covering Eliska's journey was in large part a long advert for DHL. After the Born Free films were made George Adamson decided that some of the captive trained lions that had been used in the films should be given the chance to return to the wild initially in Meru NP but he was then thrown out of the park and so moved to the nearby Kora National Reserve and set up his base Kampi ya Simba there. While he was there in 1971 a young Englishman Tony Fitzjohn joined him becoming his assistant for 18 years helping with the lion rehabilitation he also for sometime had his own camp there where he was rehabilitating leopards. During their time in Kora there were a lot of problems with illegal grazers and poachers and there was a lot of corruption in Kenya so inevitably they'd created a few enemies who wanted to see both of them gone from Kora, in the end George Adamson was in his 80s so old age would likely have made it impossible for him to stay there much longer, Tony however was only 45 when he left so could have had a long future at Kora. Life was basically made very difficult for him and he was effectively forced to leave, fortuitously at the same time the opportunity to move to Mkomazi came up, he had hoped to persuade George to join him in Tanzania, but tragically later on in 1989 at the age of 83 George was murdered by Somali bandits while trying to rescue a couple of his assistants who'd been ambushed at the Kora airstrip. The full details of all of this are in Tony's autobiography Born to be Wild. There is also a film giving the fictionalised version of events called To Walk with Lions, starring the late Richard Harris as George the film tells the story of Tony Fitzjohn's arrival at Kora and his life there with George and his brother Terrence Adamson. While it could be described as the final chapter in the Born Free saga it's very different to the very rose-tinted 'Disneyfied' earlier films, particularly in it's more accurate portrayal of Joy Adamson played by Honor Blackman although she only has a small part in the story as they had separated by then, in part because she refused to live at Kora. It's not I would say the greatest of films but worth watching if you are interested in the George Adamson/Tony Fitzjohn story.
  8. @jeremieVery interesting I was just about to post a reply before you posted, so I wrote this before your last post. I don’t know what the exact political situation in Niger is but I imagine it’s still a long way from being a really stable country, so I would think that the major priority now has to be establishing another population outside of Niger. This is why I think it is extremely regrettable that some South African giraffes were introduced into the Bandia and Fathala Reserves in Senegal, these reserves are very small and only glorified safari parks that have been filled with non indigenous animals mostly from South Africa. Senegal would otherwise potentially be a good country for giraffe reintroduction and if the South African giraffes were not there a small breeding population of West African giraffes could be established in these reserves to provide animals to repopulate Niokolo-Koba NP. I think probably a reintroduction to Senegal is unlikely at present, if it ever does become likely I would hope that steps are taken to ensure that these giraffes cannot be mixed I would assume that in the past giraffes would have occurred in the north of Benin and certainly the historical distribution map in my Kingdon Field guide would indicate that this was the case. This would suggest to me that at one time there would have been giraffes in the WAP Complex that includes Pendjari NP and since APN is due to take over the park this would be the ideal site for a reintroduction, indeed I would guess that if giraffes were once found in Pendjari and that the habitat is still good then APN will be keen to reintroduce them. Pendjari is not that far from the area of Niger where the giraffes are found, if the Nigerien government can be persuaded to cooperate then perhaps with some help from GCF some of these animals could be captured and translocated to Pendjari. As far as I know there are none currently in captivity, so if there were another civil war in Niger that affected the part of the country where the giraffes are found it could be a disaster for them and potentially wipe them out, with just a single population there is also a disease risk.
  9. @Tom KellieFollowing on from what @offshorebirder said Mkomazi is one of Tanzania’s newest national parks it was only upgraded from a game reserve to a national park in 2006 and hasn’t so far made it onto the northern safari circuit because it’s a little out of the way and so is still pretty unknown. It has had something of a controversial history because when the game reserve was established in 1951 the colonial authorities decided that the local pastoralist Parakuyo people should be allowed to continue grazing their livestock in parts of the reserve. Over time the population of livestock grew and then other people like some of the local Maasai also started grazing in the reserve, eventually the situation became unsustainable and the reserve was being seriously degraded by too much livestock. At the same time the wildlife was being poached, black rhinos were wiped out and elephants reduced to an all time low of 11 and other animals were being killed for meat, for a while some people were worried that Mkomazi might be degazetted and given over to people to farm or remain an unloved and inadequately protected reserve losing its wildlife. Until 1988 when the Tanzanian government decided to take an interest in the reserve and suggested that something should be done to restore it. This is of course where it gets controversial because they decided that the local pastoralists and their livestock should be completely excluded from Mkomazi, this attracted severe criticism from human rights groups and from those conservationists who believe that local people should not be excluded from conservation areas. To restore Mkomazi the George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust was in invited in, Tony Fitzjohn who had been George Adamson’s assistant and protégé helping to rehabilitate lions in the Kora National Reserve in Kenya set up shop in Mkomazi after he’d been effectively thrown out of Kenya. A lot of people argued that Mkomazi wasn’t really worth saving as it had little ecological value and it was ridiculous to try and turn it back into a pristine wilderness when people had always been living in it and using it. A lot of other people in the conservation world regard Mkomazi as major success story. The Tsavo ecosystem of which Mkomazi is part is very largely made up of a type of bush country known as Nyika and this is the prime habitat for black rhinos, before they were wiped out during the poaching epidemic in the 80s Mkomazi had had the highest density of black rhinos in Tanzania. One of the major objectives when GAWPT became involved was to establish the country’s first proper rhino sanctuary and reintroduce black rhinos, at the time there were just a handful of East African black rhinos (Diceros bicornis michaeli) left in the Ngorongoro Crater and perhaps a couple in the Serengeti and a few in the Selous GR although I’ve always understood that these latter rhinos are south central blacks (D. b. minor). It looked like black rhinos could well be headed for extinction in Tanzania as has been their fate in other countries; an area of Mkomazi was fenced off to create a sanctuary and East African black rhinos were brought in from the extralimital population that exists in South Africa and also from Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic and from the Port Lympne Zoo in Kent in the UK, I understand that the rhinos are now breeding well. The success of the rhino breeding and also wild dog breeding and the improved protection of Mkomazi and I’m sure a fair bit of lobbying from Tony Fitzjohn and his friends helped get Mkomazi upgraded to a national park. The GAWPT have also been instrumental in getting the Kora National Reserve in Kenya upgraded to a national park Tony Fitzjohn is no longer persona non grata in Kenya. Certainly without his involvement Mkomazi would probably not be a national park and now that it is, livestock cannot be allowed back in as under Tanzanian law grazing in National Parks is illegal whereas it can be allowed in game reserves. Mkomazi has benefited a great deal from the fact that Tony Fitzjohn is a famous figure in the conservation world who can attract support and funding for Mkomazi in a way that TANAPA could not. He has some very wealthy and influential celebrity friends, I’ve just read that the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation is paying to double the size of the rhino sanctuary and its rhino population, this may then pave the way for the establishment of other rhino sanctuaries in other parks as the ultimate aim is to breed enough rhinos to reintroduce them elsewhere in the country. The rhinos recently reintroduced into Akagera NP in Rwanda come from the same population in South Africa as the original Mkomazi rhinos so are likely related to them, I don’t know the origins of the zoo rhinos and whether or not they are related, but if they are not too closely related then I hope that in future Rwanda and Tanzania will establish a rhino exchange. Of course once they’ve swapped a few bulls they’d have to stop and find new blood from somewhere else but I hope that they can persuade Kenya to come on board as they have by far the largest population of East African black rhinos. Expanding the Mkomazi Rhino Sanctuary It is great to know that the elephant population in Tsavo/Mkomazi is recovering although only 23 elephants in Mkomazi is still very small but maybe in time this number will increase. The GAWPT have done a lot of community outreach work to try and bring the local communities onside but I would guess that there may still be some anger and resentment about people being excluded from the park. I hope that future tourist developments in and around Mkomazi will provide benefits to local people to further improve relations with the park. Fortunately the figure quoted in the video for the population of black rhinos is incorrect, although I would think it could well be about right for the number of East African black rhinos.
  10. I've driven past Lake Manyara, I've flown over the top of it, I've even landed at the airstrip but I've never actually visited the park, though I do know people who have, I completely agree with @Game Warden that it's subjective, it all depends what your priorities are. If you are going on safari for the first time and are keen on birds I think Lake Manyara could be well worth visiting at the right time of year to see the large flocks of waterbirds flamingos, storks and pelicans, however if your priority is big game then certainly Tarangire would be better. If you go down into the central part of Tarangire to the Silale Swamp then you can see a fair few waterbirds there (obviously not flamingos), though it probably doesn't compare to Lake Manyara on a good day. As I say it's all about priorities and what your interests are, I think Zanzibar is a great place well worth visiting if you have time but I know other people might say I wouldn't waste time going to Zanzibar I'd rather spend the time on safari. Also how you feel about some does depend very much on your experience, Ndutu can be a fantastic place in February if the migration has arrived on schedule, but if the migration is not there it can be an awful place because it so much more crowded these days than it used to be and the fact that you can off road means that all of the predators are permanently surrounded by cars. That was my last experience of visiting Ndutu in February, on one game drive I think the most wildebeest I counted was 7 and I know what it used to be like when there was hardly anyone there. So I wouldn't want to go again at the same time of year, but I wouldn't advise other people not go in Feb, I would just warn that you should be aware that the migration is not guaranteed to be there.
  11. @wilddog I was going to make the same point that cheetahs and wild dogs have benefited from the loss of the lions. In addition to the loss of large prey through bushmeat poaching, several of the country’s parks have been invaded by local people who are now farming the land Mupa NP in the south has been almost entirely destroyed to the point that rehabilitation is not a realistic possibility. I would assume that some of these people keep cattle and goats and would therefore not welcome the presence of hungry lions that will prey on their stock with nothing much else to hunt. At least within the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area it should become possible at some point to translocate some herbivores probably from the Namibian and Bostwanan sections into Angola to restore their numbers there. Then with proper protection these animals and any surviving lions will recover. @Caracal Giant sable only occur in two places the Luando Integral Nature Reserve and Cangandala NP, the population in Luando is larger and healthier, those in Cangandala were in severe danger of disappearing mainly due to a lack of mature dominant bulls. An unfortunate situation had developed in the park, after the sable had been rediscovered following the war and proven not to be extinct as had been feared; camera traps were put out to monitor the population. Only one herd was found to be surviving in the park , the resulting images revealed the presence of a significant number of odd looking animals within the herd that seemed to possess characteristics more typical of roan antelope. Evidently with no sable bulls present a roan bull had moved in on the sable cows resulting in the birth of hybrid calves, unusually these ‘robles’ roan x sable calves are fertile, normally hybrids between different species are infertile. As I understand it hybrid roble bulls were captured and gelded to ensure they would not be able to breed, for some years not a single purebred sable calf was reported in Cangandala. A fenced breeding sanctuary was then established, pure sable females were moved into the sanctuary and 3 bulls and 6 cows were then captured in Luando and flown the short distance to Cangandala, these animals are secure and breeding well. There is still a poaching problem outside the sanctuary and in also in Luando but the rangers known as shepherds are doing the best to keep the sables safe. In 2011 surveys in Luando revealed that there were at least 4 herds in the reserve. The Palanca Negra Gigante is Angola’s national animal its head and magnificent horns adorns the tail fins of Air Angola TAAG aircraft and the shirts of the country’s national football team known as the Palancas Negras I would hope that this should help ensure that giant sables remain protected by the government. Hybridization following population collapse in a critically endangered antelope Efforts to save the giant sable are supported by Tusk Trust, recently one of the Angolan rangers who is one of the shepherds in Luando Manuel Sacaia won a Tusk Wildlife Ranger Award. You can find information on the giant sable on the Angolan Field Group website the most recent reports from Pedro Vaz Pinto who has dedicated his life to saving these animals, are from the end of 2016.
  12. @Game Warden Thank you I recall reading your report at the time, interesting that the animals while not that easy to make out because they're faded, seem far more stylised than the animals at Nswatugi, looking at photos elsewhere online the eland in my photos is also very different to the beautiful eland paintings in the Drakensberg.I suppose as these different San groups were living considerable distances apart it's logical that they would have had slightly different painting styles. @JohnR Thanks, that last engraving must be a gemsbok given how common they are in Namibia and they do provide the most popular game meat in the country I imagine the San were pretty keen on hunting them, there's a good amount of quality meat on an oryx, maybe they still do, I don't know how much hunting surviving San communities in Namibia are allowed to do these days but I suspect more than they are in Botswana. Gosho Park in Zimbabwe Gosho Park is a small private game reserve near Marondera in Zimbabwe primarily used for educational purposes by the nearby Peterhouse schools, it’s characterised by a mixture of beautiful Brachystegia woodland ‘miombo’ and grassland with numerous huge boulders in amongst. A variety of herbivores have been introduced mainly antelopes, zebras and giraffes, while these animals are beautiful and nice to see Gosho’s main interest for the international tourist is its miombo birds it is one of the best places in the country see some of these woodland species. Also along with Matobo it is one of the best sites in the country for seeing the boulder chat a regional endemic, although this proved not to be the case when I visited Gosho. The opportunity to see some good species has made this place a popular site for birders in the know, it also happens to be an extremely picturesque place. A little easier to find than some of the birds were a few San rock paintings simply painted on the sides of some of the huge boulders, the presence of these paintings just on the side of some rocks in a patch of woodland and not in a cave to me shows that there must be paintings everywhere around this region. I have no doubt that there are plenty that have yet to be rediscovered. Looking at how worn and faded some of them are suggests that there were probably many more in the past, I don’t know what age they are but I imagine the San may have been driven from this area some long time ago. While not as impressive as the paintings in Nswatugi Cave these paintings provide extra interest on a visit to this little reserve. San hunters at Gosho Park in Zimbabwe Zebra This small rather more simple zebra than the large striped one at Nswatugi is actually painted on one of the large rocks in the top photo, I've circled it in the same photo shown below. You should be able to see where it is in the slightly closer shot below, a tiny painting on a huge rock. As you can see the painting is not exactly that sheltered from the elements, so the few paintings here have survived remarkably well given that they could a couple of thousand years old or at least many hundreds of years old.
  13. Ever since switching to digital photography I’ve had a fondness for taking photos to create stitched panoramas, I must have created at a guess over 1,000 by now, mostly landscapes often including wildlife or sometimes specifically of wildlife. Every now and again though inspiration takes hold and I attempt to create to create a panorama from a less obviously panoramic subject, such was the case in Nswatugi Cave and I thought I wonder if I can create a panorama out of these wonderful paintings. I had no idea at the time whether I would succeed in producing a worthwhile image given that I was shooting handheld and in pretty low light. What I ended up with was far better than I could ever have hoped and gives a very good impression of this fascinating place. Matobo NP doesn’t necessarily fit in terribly well if you are flying from Vic Falls or Hwange up to Mana Pools as people often do, but anyone planning a trip to Zimbabwe should definitely consider trying to include Matobos NP. Besides Nswatugi Cave and Malindidzimu and some of the most stunning landscapes in Zim, the park is one of the best places in the country to see rhinos. If you do decide to visit there’s probably no one better to go with, to see the paintings and Rhodes’s grave than Paul Hubbard one of the foremost experts on the history of his country, what he doesn’t know about the history of Zim either ancient or more recent isn’t worth knowing. Paul Hubbard in Nswatugi Cave
  14. Having an interest in Africa’s culture/history as well as it’s wildlife I thought it was time for a thread on a subject that perfectly combines these two interests and that hasn’t come up as far as I can recall very often and that is rock art. I’m not any kind of expert on this subject and haven’t visited a huge numbers of sites but I thought I’d write a brief intro before getting to some photos from the places I have been to. All over Africa there are fine examples of rock art, ancient paintings and engravings or petroglyphs, such art has been found on all continents except Antarctica but there is more of this art in Africa than anywhere else in the world. The Saharan Region is especially rich in both paintings and petroglyphs which provide a fascinating insight into the lives of the ancient peoples of this region and the of wildlife that they lived alongside, much of this artwork dates from a wet period when the Sahara was not a desert but a lush green land of rivers and lakes, lush grasslands and savannahs. Besides depictions of people and their cattle and other livestock there are numerous representations of easily recognisable wild animals like giraffes, elephants and white rhinos in countries like Libya and Algeria far outside their modern historical distribution. Sadly much of this rock art is found in areas of the Sahara that are no longer accessible to tourists due to ongoing political instability, I don’t know enough about all of the countries of this region so there may be some sites that are safe to visit, certainly it should be okay to visit some of the sites in the Ennedi region of Chad, I have not done so. I have only admired the extraordinary engravings of giraffes for example found in Niger in photographs in Nat Geo and online. Here’s a link to the Trust for African Rock Art click on the countries highlighted to see photos of this extraordinary art. While rock art can be found in various places in East Africa the largest collection of paintings (that I know of) is as at Kondoa in Tanzania just south west of Tarangire NP, although I’ve not visited Kondoa the rock art sites are not that hard to get to being only 9kms from the main highway going south from Arusha to Dodoma. While the site is accessible it’s only 3.5 hrs drive south of Arusha it is somewhat off the beaten track as far as Tanzania’s northern safari circuit is concerned and most people going from Arusha down to say Ruaha NP or Selous GR would tend to fly rather than drive. You really need to make a special trip to visit Kondoa as you’re not likely to be passing by, therefore few tourists visit these paintings. The depictions of elongated human figures and local wildlife are thought primarily to have been painted by the Sandawe people, related to the San peoples of Southern Africa and speaking a similar click language the Sandawe were likewise originally hunter gatherers. Here’s a guide to Kondoa Rock Art of Kondoa Irangi Further south, Southern Africa has an abundance of rock art, around the whole region numerous caves and rock shelters have been richly decorated with depictions of the local wildlife and people, for the most part these paintings and pictographs were created by San hunter gatherers and later Khoekhoe herders. The pictures are in many cases not actually depictions of the real world as observed by the San, but are in fact scenes taken from the spirit world visited by their shamans during trances brought on during ceremonial dances. The frequency with which certain animal species were depicted depended on their spiritual significance to the people of the area. In South Africa (& Lesotho) where there could be anywhere up to 30,000 rock art sites and over 1 million images, the eland was the most totemic species in the Drakensberg and Maloti Mts for example there are whole galleries of eland paintings. In Namibia and Zimbabwe depictions of eland are far less frequent and giraffes much more common, other animals like zebras, rhinos, elephants and ostriches are also commonly depicted. I don’t know if this reflects a difference in the past abundance of these animals or simply their significance to the artists who portrayed them. Many of the painting and petroglyphs date back to around 2,000 years or so ago, although it’s recently been confirmed that some of the oldest paintings in South Africa date back to 5,000 years ago. The tradition may go back far longer but paintings on sandstone apparently don’t last for more than a few thousand years due to the porous nature of the rock. There are also much more recent paintings but it’s generally thought that certainly in South Africa the San stopped painting soon after European colonisation, large numbers of San died from smallpox brought in by the settlers or were killed in conflicts with the newly arrived whites and also the expanding black tribes that were encroaching into their territory. Conflict was inevitable as the San saw no distinction between wild game and domestic livestock regarding both simply as meat to be hunted, the severe reduction in their numbers, the disruption to their culture and mixing with other peoples brought an end to their production of rock art. While I’ve not visited rock art sites in the Sahara or East Africa I have been to a couple of sites in Zimbabwe and in Namibia, as with the rest of Southern Africa the San were the original inhabitants of Zimbabwe and would have lived throughout the country, they produced the majority of the rock art found at over 15,000 sites around the Zimbabwe. One of the highest concentrations of rock paintings can be found in the Matobos Hills just south of Bulawayo throughout these beautiful hills caves and rock overhangs were decorated by the San. The most accessible of these caves sites in Matobos National Park is Nswatugi Cave which has some of Zimbabwe’s most impressive paintings and is also conveniently close to Malindidzimu or World’s End the spectacular burial place of Cecil Rhodes. Nswatugi Cave a Guide to the Big Game of the Matobos. Rhodes Matopos NP as it was originally called was created in 1926 after Cecil Rhodes bequeathed the area to the country, much of the original big game that would once have been found in the Matobos had been hunted out. When it was decided in the 1960s to set aside an area of the park as a game preserve that would be restocked with suitable wildlife, they needed to know which species they should reintroduce, caves like Nswatugi provided a perfect guide to the original fauna of the park. At another site that I’ve not visited known as the White Rhino Shelter is the faint outline of what is clearly a white rhino, a species that was entirely extinct in the country when Southern Rhodesia was founded in the 1890s, exactly when they became extinct is not known (as far as I know) but this evidence of their former presence led to their reintroduction. There is now a healthy and seemingly well protected population of southern white rhinos and also black rhinos in the park. Some of the other game hasn’t fared quite as well some species like buffalo were actively exterminated some years ago for reasons of foot and mouth disease control and a lot of game was poached during the recent chaos, but hopefully more restocking will be carried out in future when the opportunity arises. Photographing rock paintings can be a bit of a challenge as you can’t use flash which would damage the paintings, so I wasn't sure how well my photos would come out when I visited Nswatugi a few years ago. These paintings are perhaps 2,000 years old and have survived remarkably well considering that Ndebele rebels hid out in caves like this one during the first Chimurenga or freedom war that lasted from 1894-97. It was from hideouts in the Matobos that they launched their guerilla war against the white settlers that nearly extinguished the fledgling colony of Southern Rhodesia. The large animal in the centre of the scene is an eland The artists would often simply paint on top of the earlier paintings frequently creating a jumble of images which can make it a little difficult to make out some of the individual animals and people, the shapes below the eland appear to be entirely abstract and I don't recall what their significance may have been if known. Probably the finest painting of giraffes in Zimbabwe This would appear to be a female greater kudu Greater kudu bull Giraffes, zebras, antelopes and other animals Plains zebra

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