Namibia’s Skeleton Coast

July 28th, 2014

Namibia has several thousand shipwrecked vessels strewn across its vast coastline. The Skeleton Coast’s rough seas, roaring winds and strong ocean currents are primarily responsible for many of these beached ships’ fate.

Many of the wrecks on the harsh coastline have been completely destroyed by the sun and and heavy sea air, but a few are still visible. The vessels’ remains can be seen up close by explorers who are keen on making the trek along the Land of the Brave’s beautiful but perilous coastline. The Eduard Bohlen, The Duneedin Star, and The Suiderkus are three of these ships that still float atop the sands.


The Eduard Bohlen (1907)

This is perhaps one of the most well known shipwrecks in Namibia if not in the world. Its fame is largely as a result of its strange location. This is because the Eduard Bohlen appears to be stranded in the middle of the desert.

The Eduard Bohlen was a German cargo ship that ran aground while it was on its way to Table Bay from Swakopmund. It is believed that thick fog caused the ship to founder close to Conception Bay. Years after the ship ran aground the desert began to encroach on the ocean and the ship that was once stranded in the ocean slowly became stranded in the desert. The wreck currently sits about 500 meters from the ocean, making it a must visit site for wreck enthusiasts and history buffs alike.


The Dunedin Star (1942)

During the Second World War the Dunedin Star left Liverpool carrying munitions and supplies for Allied forces. On board as well as the cargo were 21 passengers who wanted to escape a war-torn London. The vessel, however, hit an underwater obstacle and landed up grounding 500 meters offshore, stranding its passengers and crew on the inhospitable Skeleton Coast.

The rescue efforts that followed were dogged by bad luck and adverse conditions. A tug boat dispatched to aid in the rescue efforts ran aground, while a Ventura bomber, tasked with dropping supplies for the survivors of the Dunedin Star, crashed into the sea after delivering its cargo to the stranded crew and passengers of the wreck. Both the tugboat and the warplane are still visible today.


The Suiderkus (1976)

Close to Henties Bay there are several visible shipwrecks, one of which is that of the Suiderkus, a relatively modern fishing trawler. The ship ran aground near Möwe Bay on her maiden voyage despite having a highly sophisticated navigational system. After a few months most of the ship had disintegrated but a large portion of the hull still survives to this day.

The hull is now perched on the beach and is currently a home for a group of cormorants. Because of its peculiar location and decaying frame it is a popular destination for photographers visiting the area.

There are literally thousands of wrecks dotted along the coast of Namibia. The three shops above are among the most visible and are relatively easy to access. As the Skeleton Coast National Park continues to become more accessible to more and more people other pathways to other amazing wreck sites will become availble. For now, however, you can beat the crowds and get exploring in one of the world’s strangest and most haunting landscapes.



Blog Courtesy of the Namibia Tourism Board

Photos Courtesy of I Dreamed of Africa

East African Courts Rule Against Serengeti Super Highway!

July 24th, 2014

The East African Court of Justice has ruled against the construction of a tarmac highway that would cut across the migration routes of the great herds of wildebeest and zebras in Serengeti National Park, Northern Tanzania.


On 20 June 2014, judges at the court ruled that the proposed road from Loliondo-Kleins Gate/Tabora B to Mugumu/Natta would be “unlawful” and “could cause irreversible damage to the property’s outstanding universal value.”


The road was proposed by the Tanzanian government to boost economic growth and improve transport links to neighboring regions.


However, the plans were met with international outrage, with scientists warning that the resulting traffic could severely degrade animal populations, diminish the quality of grazing, trigger more grass fires and turn the ecosystem into a net source of CO2.


“This is great victory for conservation in Tanzania and sends a strong message that future development cannot proceed in a business-as-usual manner,” said Festo Semanini, the Head of Programs for Bird Life International’s Tanzania Project Office.

This permanent injunction underscores the importance to protect natural places in Tanzania, and is being heralded as a major victory for wildlife conservation!

18 Baby Mountain Gorillas Named In Kwita Izina Ceremony!

July 21st, 2014


Rwandans recently celebrated the birth of 18 baby gorillas at the 10th anniversary of Kwita Izina, the annual gorilla naming ceremony, which took place July 3rd. The event was held at the foothills of the Virunga Mountains at Kinigi in northern Rwanda and brought together more than 40,000 residents of Musanze District and visitors from all over the world. This year’s Kwita Izina was held under the theme: “A Decade: Conserving-Empowering-Growing.”

The CEO of the Rwanda Development Board, Ambassador Valentine Rugwabiza said: “We celebrate, for the tenth time, the growth of the gorilla family by naming 18 baby gorillas born over the last year, bringing the total population of the endangered species to over 600 in the Virunga Transboundary Parks.” Ambassador Rugwabiza added that the increase in mountain gorilla numbers is thanks to the tireless collaborative efforts of the government of Rwanda, the local communities neighboring the park, and conservation partners.


“We acknowledge the role of local communities in the sustained conservation of the Volcanoes National Park, specifically the protection of the gorillas and their habitat,” said Ambassador Rugwabiza. “We believe that in the empowerment of our local communities, we also gain sustainable tourism development.”

The 10th Kwita Izina was marked by a series of activities ranging from conservation, business, cultural and entertainment that led up to the big day. These included the launch of Basumba Primary School in Bigogwe, Nyabihu District. The school of six classrooms was built with funds from the Shared Revenue Scheme, which gives 5% of tourism profits from the national park back to the communities surrounding the gorilla habitat.


“You cannot succeed in conserving a critically endangered species like the mountain gorilla without the cooperation and support of the people who live closest to them,” said Craig Sholley, vice president of philanthropy and marketing for the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF). Sholley, on behalf of AWF, was invited to vote on the gorilla names. “The Kwita Izina ceremony shows that, from the government to the local communities, protection of mountain gorillas stems from a sense of duty and a source of pride,” he said.

Over 100 regional and international tour operators and media came to experience Rwanda and took park in business-to-business meetings organized with RwandAir. These meetings led to business partnerships with local tour operators. In addition, Kwita Izina guests joined in Global Umuganda (community work) in Nyamata. They also participated in the Igitaramo, a community celebration with residents in Kinigi, Musanze at which local artist Jay Polly performed.

Baby mountain gorilla feeding, Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

Kwita Izina is inspired by the ancient Rwandan tradition of naming babies soon after they are born. The ceremony has transformed from being a local event in 2005 to becoming an international gorilla conservation event that also promotes tourism. Early this year, Kwita Izina won second prize in the UNWTO Ulysses Award for Innovation in Public Policy and Governance. In the nine years since the event was established, 161 gorillas have been named in a celebration of nature and the communities who protect the majestic mountain gorilla.

Story Courtesy of AWF

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