Anders Bekeken

100 Places To Remember: Kalahari Desert, Namibia

Geschreven op 25-2-2010 - Erik van Erne. Geplaatst in Natuur Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

100places to rememberThe Ability to Find Water Where No One Else Can. In the harsh climate of the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa, the San people are always on the move, searching for wild fruits, berries and nuts, and tracking water and game. Believed to be descendants of the first inhabitants of southern Africa, the San are famous for their exceptional hunting skills. By imitating the movements of animals, they are able to get close enough to herds to kill their prey with poisonous arrows.

The Sans knowledge of how to find water and food in places where no one else can has been passed from generation to generation, and European colonists, armies and farmers have all taken advantage of their tracking talents to pursue poachers and guerrillas. Recently, the Sans knowledge of desert plants has led to the discovery of an appetite-suppressing drug that treats obesity.

The San tribes have gone through more changes in the last 50 years than in the preceding 40,000. Once numbering millions, less than 2,000 now lead a traditional hunting and gathering lifestyle.

Conflicts between the San and both neighbouring tribes and European colonists have forced them to the more remote reaches of the Kalahari. Ancient scrubland is being turned into privately owned cattle ranches, and their search for fertile land will become even harder as desertification encroaches on the bush vegetation, caused by rising temperatures and rainfall that is decreasing by up to 40% during the austral winter. Global warming could eventually prevent the last of the San from hunting and gathering food on the desert plains.

There is no known antidote to the most lethal poison used by the San, which consists of a mixture of grubs, beetles and tree gum. Armed with poisonous arrows, the San men set off in small parties to hunt, tracking game by reading the traces left behind by animals.

At night, women, men and children gather round the fire to perform dance rituals, accompanied by clapping and rising chanting. This sometimes develops into a trance dance, through which the San believe they are able to cure sickness and communicate with dead or absent relatives.

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