DESERT CONSERVATION

BACKGROUND

The vast open plains and rolling sand dunes are far more sensitive than most people can imagine. The Namib desert is home to hundreds of endemic animal and plant species who have made this harsh environment their home.

The information below is goes about the Dorob National park and how it came into existance in 2010.

Most of the Namib Desert is made up of Gravel plains which is made up of stones called gravel,ranging in all sizes, mixed with a fine dust called gypsum. The combination of gravel, gypsum and fog cause a crust to form over hundreds of years. When traveling with a vehicle or even walking over these plains the tracks can remain for hundreds of years.This sensitive environment has some of the most scenic desert landscapes on earth and is worthy of protection in order to share with tourists from all over the world and its the inheritance of the local Namibians to enjoy and share with their children for years to come.

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PROBLEM

Its a well known fact that a large portion of the higher income inhabitants of Namibia own quad bikes and 4x4 vehicles. People want to have fun and drive everywhere and test their bikes and vehicles. By driving all over the place much aesthetic and ecological damage is caused.

Gravel plains such as in the pictures below will leave scars for hundreds of years. Some of the old ox wagon tracks from the early German settlers that arrived in 1880 can still be seen today.

Many ask the question - but why does the wind not remove the tracks? The reason is that the gravel plains are made op of stones of all sizes (gravel) which is mixed with a fine dust called gypsum. This combination mixed with humidity from the daily fog forms a crust over thousands of years. Once this crust is broken and the stones are displaced then the wind cannot move the stones back into position leaving a permanent scar in the landscape.

Over a hundred endemic lichen species exist along the coastal Namib. Once the lichens are driven over they never recover and the damaged soil stays scared.

Concerning the dunes, many endemic insects and reptiles live just under the surface of the dune sand. Driving over the dunes will kill many animals that the driver is not aware of just below the surface of the dune and unsightly tracks will be left on the dunes till the next wind arrives to erase them, only to be replaced by new ones if regulations are not in place

SOLUTION

Try to create a protected area where the public can continue enjoying the environment in a sustainable manner.

To achieve this dream of a protected area where activities can be conducted within a protected area was a great achievement which involved a lot of hard work from many dedicated people over a span of about 8 years. Many meetings, many tears, many press articles and lots of international and local funding which eventually led to the creation of the Dorob National park in 2010.

This unique peoples park covering 7800 square kilometers or 780000 hectares has 3 towns within the park boundaries, namely Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Henties Bay. The park is a peoples park which is zoned for protection and recreational use in a sustainable manner.

Permits have been granted to tour operators to conduct sustainable tourism within the park and areas have been set aside for the public to enjoy recreational Quad biking and dune driving with 4x4 vehicles.

VICTORY

A dedicated team of conservationists, including myself, spent many hours day after day and year after year publicizing the destruction of the Namib Desert in the media by means of posting pictures and letters depicting this destruction around the world, in order to create international attention. Having endured many threats from angry members of the public who did not like the idea of having their destructive activity regulated victory was eventually rewarded through the creation of the Dorob National park in 2010, and its within this special park that we conduct our living Desert tour.

I need to mention that their were many very special and dedicated people that played a role in creating this wonderful park. I would like to extend alarge thanks to all of them for their tireless contributions.

A very special thanks to my awesome wife Katja Nel for standing by my side day by day  and encouraging me.

Avery special thanks to Rod Braby a dedicated warden that went out of his way to protect the environment and make the Dorob a reality. Rod Baby was one of the last of his kind of real conservationists and wardens that no longer exist.

And finally Marilyn Leippert, the original owner of Levo dolphin tours. Marilyn was a fighter that made her a legend in a league of her own where I still need to meet another like her.

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