Adventures in Anabeb and Sesfontein
March 25, 2014
By Kim Oldenborg (Northland College ’16)
Double rainbows, cheetahs, and meeting elusive lion researcher: what another adventurous week! We started off the week at our base camp, Wereldsend, where we had an usual amount of company. A well known lion researcher in Namibia, Dr. Flip Stander, was teaching a course to local game guards to certify them as lion rangers. We had the opportunity to sit in on this course and learn about lion behavior and lion biology. From Flip we learned that lion cubs have bright blue eyes when born that turn yellow after 3 months, and that large male cubs are usually the lions that attack people’s livestock.
After a few more days at Werelsend we finished up the details on our student project proposals and got packed up for our ten day bush camping excursion. We headed north to Anabeb and Sesfontein Conservancies. As we drove the mountains got bigger and we started to see more water-dependent vegetation than we have seen before, like the Dr. Suess-looking Kaoko Kobas and the Bottle Tree. We spent two days nestled on a rocky hill above a flowing river in Anabeb. That night for dinner we started to prepare the springbok that we received from the Conservancy. I decided to just watch, but all of the other students took turns hacking the machete to break the springbok into cooking-size pieces. While dinner was cooking we were admiring the scenery when we noticed something odd in the river below: a snake over a meter long swimming up the river! We ran down to investigate and later identified it as possibly a python. It was a sight that even some of the locals were squeamish about when we told them.
In the morning we headed out to start our vehicular game count. About half way through our route, our car battery died while we were crossing a dry river bed. Our leader Bekah told us to get out and start pushing the car. I confusingly got out of the car and started to push not knowing where in the world we would be pushing the car too; we were at least 15 kilometers from any village. After many times of the rocks defeating any momentum we made, I decided to ask Bekah where we could possibly be pushing the car. That is when I learned that a manual car can be started by pushing and popping the clutch. Oh the things I had to come all this way to learn! Unfortunately, our pushing efforts were just not enough in the river bed. We instead just waited in the river bed, exchanging stories until we could contact the rest of the group for a jump start.
The next morning we headed out early for another game count. As we were driving to the start of our route we thought we saw a dog off in the distance, not an uncommon sight. That dog then turned into a jackal, which then turned into a leopard, which then turned into a cheetah, which then ran right in front of our car! We were so excited and could not believe we saw our first cheetah. We quickly dug for our cameras and binoculars, when we looked up to find the cheetah again the one cheetah and turned into eight. There were four cubs, two large cubs, and two adults all staring at us with curiosity. They soon ran off but the image of those cheetah is still fresh in my mind.
Starting our game route we were greeted by a beautiful sunrise above the mountains. We spotted numerous zebra, springbok, and ostrich on our drive that meandered through gorgeous green mountains, valleys, dry river beds and remote villages. After a successful game count we headed back to camp and tried to avoid the afternoon sun and flies while working on our field journals. Later that night at supper we tried to learn some of the local language, Otjiherero, from the game guards who were camping with us that night. We wrote on rocks for flash cards and each took our stab at trying to pronouncing the words while the game guards gave us a vocabulary test. We all had a good laugh from our attempts and pronunciation and even learned a few new words! Mbahaurkwa means “happy” and hakahana is “come quickly.”
During this time we had been cooking more sprinbok and it was finally ready at around 9:00pm, desert meat as they call it here. Being a vegetarian, I watched everyone dig in, but before I knew it I had been convinced to eat the bone marrow, which oddly enough had a buttery bacon flavor. In the morning we packed up camp in Anabeb and are now further north in Sesfointein Conservancy for the next six days. We are excited to start our game counts in the morning and have more adventures while learning here in Sesontein.