Title: A profile and atlas of the Cuvelai–Etosha Basin
Authors: John Mendelsohn; Alice Jarvis; Tony Robertson
Genre: Ecology, Environment
Publisher: RAISON (Research & Information Services of Namibia)
Publisher: Gondwana Collection
Windhoek, Namibia 2013
ISBN 9789991678078 / ISBN 978-99916-780-7-8
Softcover, 17 x 23 cm, 170 pages, numerous colour photos, maps, diagrams
Without exception, water flows from high to low ground, and so rivers and streams make their way from highlands downwards, usually to the ocean. The moving waters etch and scar the surface of the earth, carving great valleys in places, levelling mountains in others. This is true throughout the world, or almost everywhere. Imagine now an area where there is not one river, but hundreds of channels. They too flow from highlands, but offer merge or separate to take divergent paths as they descend. This area is the Cuvelai and its rivers, called iishana. The land surface here is extremely flat, causing the waters to move slowly, some seeping away into the ground and some lost to evaporation. Where the waters begin to flow, they are fresh from falls of rain. What was fresh water becomes salty with the progressive loss of water molecules downstream to the atmosphere.
And none of the river channels ever reach the sea, but rather end in lakes and pans baked by the sun and caked in salt. This is the area of famous Etosha. By contrast, the Cuvelai is largely unknown to the rest of the world. As a trans-boundary landscape or wetland system, the Basin is more correctly called the Cuvelai Basin, since Etosha is just the lowland culmination of its drainage. Geologists call it the Owambo Basin. About half the Cuvelai or Owambo Basin lies in Namibia, the remaining northern half in Angola. Resources in the Cuvelai are thus shared between Namibia and Angola, as should be its management. This atlas focuses mainly on the Namibian profile of the Basin, hence the wording Cuvelai-Etosha, while the word Cuvelai on its own reflects reference to the broader shallow bowl and its internal drainage in both countries.
Plants & animals