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Subtitle: Rhythms of an African wilderness
Author: Claudia du Plessìs
Photos: Claudia du Plessis and Wynand du Plessis
2. revised edition, Swakopmund 2007
Hardcover, 26x21 cm, 118 pages, throughout colour photos, 1 map
Etosha, a magnificent National Park in Namibia, is marked by extreme contrasts: months of heat and dryness create a struggle tor survival for the countless wildlife. The relieving rain brings a short-lived time of plenty to the diverse fauna.
The authors lived for more than ten years in the Park, working as conservation scientists and documenting the dramatic rhythms of this African wilderness as passionate nature photographers. With brilliant images and moving words they give a deep insight into the unique nature paradise of Etosha.
It is midday.
Silence lies over the land. In the numbing heat all life seems to be holding its breath. Through binoculars, we watch tiny, dark shapes, seemingly trembling in mid air above the vast expanse.
Beyond, earth and sky melt into one another like watercolours, the horizon dissolves into nothingness. In the distance there is a shimmer like water, but the shapes move past it and towards us in a shivering dance. Slowly they come closer, continually growing in size, until they finally take clear shape: they are Burchell's zebras. With heads nodding, they walk in single file, following ancient game paths across a vast, open plain: the Etosha Pan, the heart of Etosha National Park.
Situated in Northern Namibia, the Etosha Pan extends over an area of 4760 square kilometres and from the air, it resembles a giant footprint. One hundred and ten kilometres long and 60 kilometres wide, the Etosha Pan is a one and a half metre thick layer of sediments, which lies on top of solid silt and clay bedrock.
During the dry season the pan floor breaks up into a mosaic of millions of small clay blocks, which are covered with fine salt crystals and gleam white in the glistening sunlight. Mostly barren and flat, the Pan is the ideal stage for mirages; created by movements of warm air rising, they distort the familiar beyond recognition and feign distant lakes.
The "White Sea", as the Heikom Bushmen, the original inhabitants of Etosha, call the Etosha Pan, is dry for most of the year. But in years of good rain we have seen the Pan turn into a shallow ephemeral lake, changing from a desert into an oasis. Then, thousands of flamingos flock together from afar to feed, mate and nest on this short-lived paradise.