News & Galleries
Article posted in the Republikein by Conrad Brain
An article posted in the Republikein our daily news paper. Written by Conrad Brain a Vet who is currently doing Elephant counts in Namibia, wrote the following:
They were not merely lions
Conrad Brain writes:
FOR now, the sands are silent again. While an abundance of other desert life continues, the roar of a lion in a desert habitat is gone. It is not a new silence, but rather one that shouts of something more than the magnificent lions themselves. Animals that live in the desert do so not on their own tenacity and knowledge, they do so on the knowledge acquired over many generations – parent to offspring, experienced to naïve and there is unequivocal scientific evidence to prove this.
The hyper-arid Namib Desert has been the laboratory of adaptive learning for humankind’s curiosity over centuries. While the invertebrates of the Namib probably demonstrate the pinnacle of adaptive survival for planet earth, more recently the survival strategies of mammals in the desert have come into focus. The outcome of almost every study on large mammals in this desert habitat is surprising.
The idea of species being physiologically adapted, of having organs and body systems adapted to a desert environment, have played second fiddle to findings of behavioural adaptation and the significance of acquired knowledge over many generations.
Try as we may, we find only very minor and usually insignificant changes in the actual body functions of the same species in desert environments versus those in more hospitable habitats. This fact does not detract from the significance of those living in the desert, but rather adds to it.
Findings of animals going for unthinkable periods without water, of enduring epic treks across barren plains and dunes and of finding and using only minute and sensitive feeding areas only spur the curiosity as to how they do this. It is probably the largest living land mammal that provided us with the most vivid importance of transferred knowledge in animals and influence of elders on youngsters. Adult elephants directly influence young ones to such an extent that those taken away from adult influence exhibit behaviour previously unseen and frequently of a self destructive nature. The desert elephants of Namibia probably represent the most significant and well known body of specialized and learnt knowledge for desert survival of a large mammal species.
When you see a group of desert elephants, you are observing much more than the elephants themselves – you are seeing countless generations of knowledge and learning that cannot be replaced by any other elephants, even though they are absolutely identical in physiology and function. So too is it with the desert lions. With the killing off of the Hoarusib lions, a long-term body of adaptive knowledge simply disappeared. Luckily a conservation approach in Namibia has encompassed a vast area in northwestern Namibia and a healthy lion population exists and it is likely, given future sound conservation measures that lions might again move into the Hoarusib.
However, as we have seen, this process takes many decades, they have to come on their own accord and there has to be a sound transfer of adaptive knowledge over generations. For this reason, the loss of these lions is an enormous setback – the other reason is that they are simply gone. Being gone means that those responsible for future conservation, those children in the community classrooms of the area, might only hear that “once there were lions here”.
These children, like the lions themselves, also need a transfer of knowledge and experience. So the inevitable and timeless link between man and beast has a common thread and every effort is worth it to synergize these two paths. The catch is that we simply cannot afford to lose our specialized wildlife, not in any form because a simple sighting, a track in the sand or a distant roar is the spark in the mind of those responsible for the future.
"Visions in the Sand"
The Fine Art Gallery in Swakopmund, in cooperation with the Desert Elephant Trust, is proud to host Visions in the Sand, in celebration and support of Namibia’s famed desert elephants.
Paintings, photography and 3D works by artists from Zimbabwe, South Africa and Namibia will celebrate the elephant, in all its aspects.
The exhibition will include works by international award-winners Paul Dixon from South Africa; the late Konrad Zander from Namibia; and Omaruru-based photographer Chris Johnston. Namibian artists Uli Aschenborn, Zakkie Eloff, South African James Yates and Zimbabweans Zamani Sibanda and Tichaona Ncube have also provided works for the exhibition.
Gallery owner Martina von Wenzel said she leaped at the opportunity to collaborate with the Desert Elephant Trust, explaining, “I have always believed that art should be part of the community, and should give back to the community…It was a good fit for my gallery, since I’ve always had wildlife in my heart.”
Both the gallery and the individual artists have agreed to donate a portion of the proceeds of this exhibition to the Desert Elephant Trust, which, for the past several years, has worked to ensure the welfare and long-term survival of the elephants of the Namib Desert. Among the programs which will benefit from this exhibition are the trust’s efforts to create and maintain boreholes; fund ‘capture and relocate’ programs for ‘problem’ animals; and to address human/elephant conflicts, through the strengthening of community infrastructure, education and training.
Desert Elephant Trust Board member Stephan Scholvin will make remarks at the exhibit’s opening on August 12th, at 1730. The exhibit will run through September 9th, at 34 Sam Nujoma Avenue, in Swakopmund.
Mixed Short News
- The Desert Elephant Trust relaunched its website. From now on you will find all the information about our projects and activities with fotos and examples on our pages. Also we invite you to join us on a expedition tracking Desert Elephants to learn more about these beautiful animals. Booking an expedition helps us to finance our projects concerning not only Desert Elephants but also the supporting and improving the living of people and communities in Desert Elephant areas.
- In becoming an anual member you will be sustaing the survival of the Desert Elephant.
- Volunteer for two weeks. Your first week will be spent drilling, riging and making it elephant proof for the first week and after a weekend in town go on a tracking safari.
- We are in discussions with a major donor making it possible for us to purchase 2 R44 Helicopters. If you are wanting to build flight hours, give us a call as we want the Helicopters to be airborne for surveillance. Accommodation can be arranged.
- Then we would like to thank Achim Rechter for his input, its been a long time concerning the web page but we are now visible. Thanks Achim!
- Gudrun Otto is no longer with us and we take no responsibility on her behalf.
- Last but not least, Thank you Mic for your input into the web page, Thank You.
Zamani Sibandah is an Artist based in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Take a look in our shop at his paintings and sketches. Not only are you supporting Zamani but The Desert Elephant Trust.
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