Kalahari Desert

Kalahari Desert

Overview

The Kalahari Desert is a large semi-arid sandy savannah in Southern Africa
Southern Africa
Southern Africa is the southernmost region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. Within the region are numerous territories, including the Republic of South Africa ; nowadays, the simpler term South Africa is generally reserved for the country in English.-UN...

 extending 900000 square kilometres (347,491.9 sq mi), covering much of Botswana
Botswana
Botswana, officially the Republic of Botswana , is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa. The citizens are referred to as "Batswana" . Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name after becoming independent within the Commonwealth on 30 September 1966...

 and parts of Namibia
Namibia
Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia , is a country in southern Africa whose western border is the Atlantic Ocean. It shares land borders with Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. It gained independence from South Africa on 21 March...

 and South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

, as semi-desert, with huge tracts of excellent grazing after good rains. The Kalahari supports more animals and plants than a true desert. There are small amounts of rainfall and the summer temperature is very high. It usually receives 3–7.5 in (7.6–19.1 ) of rain per year.
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The Kalahari Desert is a large semi-arid sandy savannah in Southern Africa
Southern Africa
Southern Africa is the southernmost region of the African continent, variably defined by geography or geopolitics. Within the region are numerous territories, including the Republic of South Africa ; nowadays, the simpler term South Africa is generally reserved for the country in English.-UN...

 extending 900000 square kilometres (347,491.9 sq mi), covering much of Botswana
Botswana
Botswana, officially the Republic of Botswana , is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa. The citizens are referred to as "Batswana" . Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name after becoming independent within the Commonwealth on 30 September 1966...

 and parts of Namibia
Namibia
Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia , is a country in southern Africa whose western border is the Atlantic Ocean. It shares land borders with Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. It gained independence from South Africa on 21 March...

 and South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

, as semi-desert, with huge tracts of excellent grazing after good rains. The Kalahari supports more animals and plants than a true desert. There are small amounts of rainfall and the summer temperature is very high. It usually receives 3–7.5 in (7.6–19.1 ) of rain per year. The surrounding Kalahari Basin
Kalahari Basin
The Kalahari Basin is a large lowland area covering over 2.5 million km² covering most of Botswana and parts of Namibia, South Africa, Angola, Zambia, and Zimbabwe...

 covers over 2500000 square kilometres (965,255.4 sq mi) extending farther into Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, and encroaching into parts of Angola
Angola
Angola, officially the Republic of Angola , is a country in south-central Africa bordered by Namibia on the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the north, and Zambia on the east; its west coast is on the Atlantic Ocean with Luanda as its capital city...

, Zambia
Zambia
Zambia , officially the Republic of Zambia, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. The neighbouring countries are the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Tanzania to the north-east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to the south, and Angola to the west....

 and Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country located in the southern part of the African continent, between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers. It is bordered by South Africa to the south, Botswana to the southwest, Zambia and a tip of Namibia to the northwest and Mozambique to the east. Zimbabwe has three...

. The only permanent river, the Okavango
Okavango River
The Okavango River is a river in southwest Africa. It is the fourth-longest river system in southern Africa, running southeastward for . It begins in Angola, where it is known as the Cubango River...

, flows into a delta
River delta
A delta is a landform that is formed at the mouth of a river where that river flows into an ocean, sea, estuary, lake, reservoir, flat arid area, or another river. Deltas are formed from the deposition of the sediment carried by the river as the flow leaves the mouth of the river...

 in the northwest, forming marshes that are rich in wildlife. Ancient dry riverbeds—called omuramba
Omuramba
An omuramba is a prehistoric river-bed occurring in the Kalahari Desert of Africa, notably in the North Eastern part of Namibia and North Western part of Botswana. The Kalahari is perhaps the greatest continuous stretch of sand in the world, and would have been classified as a semi-desert rather...

—traverse the Central Northern reaches of the Kalahari and provide standing pools of water during the rainy season. Previously havens for wild animals from elephant to giraffe, and for predators such as lion and cheetah, the riverbeds are now mostly grazing spots, though leopard or cheetah can still be found.

Climate


Derived from the Tswana
Tswana language
Tswana or Setswana is a language spoken in Southern Africa by about 4.5 million people. It is a Bantu language belonging to the Niger–Congo language family within the Sotho languages branch of Zone S , and is closely related to the Northern- and Southern Sotho languages, as well as the Kgalagadi...

 word Kgala, meaning "the great thirst", or Khalagari, Kgalagadi or Kalagare, meaning "a waterless place", Mary Sadler-Altena, "Kalahari: Introduction": The Kalahari has vast areas covered by red sand without any permanent surface water. Drainage is by dry valleys, seasonally inundated pans, and the large salt pan
Salt pan (geology)
Natural salt pans are flat expanses of ground covered with salt and other minerals, usually shining white under the sun. They are found in deserts, and should not be confused with salt evaporation ponds.A salt pan is formed where water pools...

s of the Makgadikgadi Pan
Makgadikgadi Pan
The Makgadikgadi Pan is a large salt pan in the middle of the dry savanna of northeastern Botswana. It is one of the largest salt flats in the world...

 in Botswana and Etosha Pan in Namibia. However, the Kalahari is not a true desert. Parts of the Kalahari receive over 250 millimetres (9.8 in) of erratic rainfall annually and are quite well vegetated; it is only truly arid in the southwest with under 175 millimetres (6.9 in) of rain annually, making the Kalahari a fossil desert. Summer temperatures in the Kalahari range from 20 to 45°C (68 to 113°F).

The Kalahari Desert was once a much wetter place. The ancient Lake Makgadikgadi
Lake Makgadikgadi
Lake Makgadikgadi is an ancient lake that existed in what is now the Kalahari Desert in Botswana. It may have once covered as much as 80,000 km² and was 30 m deep...

 dominated the area, covering the Makgadikgadi Pan and other areas, until its final drainage some 10,000 years ago. It may have once covered as much as 275000 square kilometres (106,178.1 sq mi).

Ecology


Despite its aridity, the Kalahari supports a variety of fauna and flora. The native flora includes acacia
Acacia
Acacia is a genus of shrubs and trees belonging to the subfamily Mimosoideae of the family Fabaceae, first described in Africa by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1773. Many non-Australian species tend to be thorny, whereas the majority of Australian acacias are not...

 trees and many other herbs and grasses. The Kiwano fruit, also known as the Horned Melon
Horned melon
The horned melon , also called African horned cucumber or melon, jelly melon, hedged gourd, English tomato, melano, kiwano, or cherie, is an annual vine in the cucumber and melon family. It is considered to be the ancestor of the other cultivated melons...

, melano, African horned cucumber, jelly melon, hedged gourd, and/or English tomato, is endemic to a region in the Kalahari Desert (*specific region unknown).

Some of the areas within the Kalahari are seasonal wetland
Wetland
A wetland is an area of land whose soil is saturated with water either permanently or seasonally. Wetlands are categorised by their characteristic vegetation, which is adapted to these unique soil conditions....

s, such as the Makgadikgadi Pans of Botswana
Botswana
Botswana, officially the Republic of Botswana , is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa. The citizens are referred to as "Batswana" . Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name after becoming independent within the Commonwealth on 30 September 1966...

. This area, for example, supports numerous halophilic species, and in the rainy season, tens of thousands of flamingo
Flamingo
Flamingos or flamingoes are gregarious wading birds in the genus Phoenicopterus , the only genus in the family Phoenicopteridae...

s visit these pans.

Game reserves




The Kalahari has a number of game reserve
Game reserve
A game reserve is an area of land set aside for maintenance of wildlife for tourism or hunting purposes. Many game reserves are located in Africa. Most are open to the public, and tourists commonly take sightseeing safaris or hunt wild game....

s—the Central Kalahari Game Reserve
Central Kalahari Game Reserve
Central Kalahari Game Reserve is an extensive national park in the Kalahari desert of Botswana. Established in 1961 it covers an area of 52,800 km² making it the second largest game reserve in the world.The park contains wildlife such as giraffe, brown hyena, warthog, cheetah, wild dog,...

 (the world's second largest protected area), Khutse Game Reserve
Khutse Game Reserve
Khutse Game Reserve is a National Park in Botswana....

 and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is a large wildlife preserve and conservation area in southern Africa. The park straddles the border between South Africa and Botswana and comprises two adjoining national parks: Kalahari Gemsbok National Park in South Africa and Gemsbok National Park in Botswana. The...

. Animals that live in the region include brown hyena
Hyena
Hyenas or Hyaenas are the animals of the family Hyaenidae of suborder feliforms of the Carnivora. It is the fourth smallest biological family in the Carnivora , and one of the smallest in the mammalia...

s, lion
Lion
The lion is one of the four big cats in the genus Panthera, and a member of the family Felidae. With some males exceeding 250 kg in weight, it is the second-largest living cat after the tiger...

s, meerkat
Meerkat
The meerkat or suricate, Suricata suricatta, is a small mammal belonging to the mongoose family. Meerkats live in all parts of the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, in much of the Namib Desert in Namibia and southwestern Angola, and in South Africa. A group of meerkats is called a "mob", "gang" or "clan"...

s, giraffe
Giraffe
The giraffe is an African even-toed ungulate mammal, the tallest of all extant land-living animal species, and the largest ruminant...

s, warthog
Warthog
The Warthog or Common Warthog is a wild member of the pig family that lives in grassland, savanna, and woodland in Sub-Saharan Africa. In the past it was commonly treated as a subspecies of P...

s, jackal
Jackal
Although the word jackal has been historically used to refer to many small- to medium-sized species of the wolf genus of mammals, Canis, today it most properly and commonly refers to three species: the black-backed jackal and the side-striped jackal of sub-Saharan Africa, and the golden jackal of...

s, several species of antelope
Antelope
Antelope is a term referring to many even-toed ungulate species indigenous to various regions in Africa and Eurasia. Antelopes comprise a miscellaneous group within the family Bovidae, encompassing those old-world species that are neither cattle, sheep, buffalo, bison, nor goats...

 (including the eland
Taurotragus
Taurotragus, commonly called Eland, is a genus of antelopes of the African savannah, containing two species: the Common Eland and the Giant Eland...

, gemsbok
Gemsbok
The gemsbok or gemsbuck is a large antelope in the Oryx genus. It is native to the arid regions of southern Africa, but formerly some authorities included the East African Oryx as a subspecies...

, springbok, hartebeest
Hartebeest
The hartebeest is a grassland antelope found in West Africa, East Africa and Southern Africa. It is one of the three species classified in the genus Alcelaphus....

, steenbok
Steenbok
The Steenbok, Raphicerus campestris, is a common small antelope of southern and eastern Africa. It is sometimes known as the Steinbuck or Steinbok.- Description :...

, kudu
Kudu
The kudus are two species of antelope of the genus Tragelaphus:*Lesser Kudu, Tragelaphus imberbis*Greater Kudu, Tragelaphus strepsiceros- Etymology :...

, and duiker
Duiker
A duiker is any of about 21 small to medium-sized antelope species from the subfamily Cephalophinae native to Sub-Saharan Africa.Duikers are shy and elusive creatures with a fondness for dense cover; most are forest dwellers and even the species living in more open areas are quick to disappear...

), and many species of birds and reptile
Reptile
Reptiles are members of a class of air-breathing, ectothermic vertebrates which are characterized by laying shelled eggs , and having skin covered in scales and/or scutes. They are tetrapods, either having four limbs or being descended from four-limbed ancestors...

s. Vegetation in the Kalahari consists mainly of grass
Poaceae
The Poaceae is a large and nearly ubiquitous family of flowering plants. Members of this family are commonly called grasses, although the term "grass" is also applied to plants that are not in the Poaceae lineage, including the rushes and sedges...

es and acacia
Acacia
Acacia is a genus of shrubs and trees belonging to the subfamily Mimosoideae of the family Fabaceae, first described in Africa by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1773. Many non-Australian species tend to be thorny, whereas the majority of Australian acacias are not...

s, but there are over 400 identified plant species present (including the wild watermelon
Watermelon
Watermelon is a vine-like flowering plant originally from southern Africa. Its fruit, which is also called watermelon, is a special kind referred to by botanists as a pepo, a berry which has a thick rind and fleshy center...

, or Tsamma melon). Camel rides flourish when it rains.

Population


The Bushmen have lived in the Kalahari for 20,000 years as hunter-gatherer
Hunter-gatherer
A hunter-gatherer or forage society is one in which most or all food is obtained from wild plants and animals, in contrast to agricultural societies which rely mainly on domesticated species. Hunting and gathering was the ancestral subsistence mode of Homo, and all modern humans were...

s. They hunt wild game with bows and arrows and gather edible plants, such as berries, melons and nuts, as well as insects. Bushmen rarely drink water; they get most of their water requirements from plant roots and desert melons found on or under the desert floor. They often store water in the blown-out shells of ostrich eggs. The San languages are notable for a number of distinctive features, including click consonants. These Bushmen
Bushmen
The indigenous people of Southern Africa, whose territory spans most areas of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland, Botswana, Namibia, and Angola, are variously referred to as Bushmen, San, Sho, Barwa, Kung, or Khwe...

 live in huts built from local materials—the frame is made of branches, and the roof is thatched with long grass. The Bantu
Bantu languages
The Bantu languages constitute a traditional sub-branch of the Niger–Congo languages. There are about 250 Bantu languages by the criterion of mutual intelligibility, though the distinction between language and dialect is often unclear, and Ethnologue counts 535 languages...

-speaking Tswana, Kgalagadi, and Herero and a small number of European settlers also live in the Kalahari.

Settlements within the Kalahari


Botswana
  • Ghanzi
    Ghanzi
    Ghanzi is a town in the western part of the Republic of Botswana in southern Africa. At the time of the 2001 census, there were 9,934 people living in the town with another 861 nearby. It is the administrative center of Ghanzi District and is known as the "Capital of the Kalahari"...

  • Tshane
    Tshane
    Tshane is a village in Kgalagadi District of Botswana. It is situated in Kalahari Desert, and is served by local Tshane Airport. The village has a primary school and the population was 858 in 2001 census.-References:...

  • Tshabong
    Tshabong
    Tshabong or Tsabong is the administrative centre of the Kgalagadi District, Botswana. It located in the Kalahari Desert. The population was 6,591 in 2001 census....

  • Orapa
    Orapa
    Orapa is a town located in the Central District of Botswana. It is the site of the Orapa diamond mine, one of the largest diamond mines in the world, and is considered to be the diamond capital of the country...



Namibia
  • Gobabis
    Gobabis
    Gobabis is a town in eastern Namibia. It is the regional capital of the Omaheke Region, and the district capital of the Gobabis electoral constituency. Gobabis is situated down the B6 motorway from Windhoek to Botswana. The town is from the Buitepos border post with Botswana, and serves as an...

  • Mariental
    Mariental
    -settlements:*Mariental, Germany, in the district of Helmstedt, Lower Saxony, Germany*Mariental, Namibia, in the Hardap Region, Namibia-other places:*Mariental, a valley near the Katzenbuckel located in Elztal, Germany...



South Africa
  • Rietfontein
  • Noenieput

The Kalahari desert in popular culture

  • Sands of the Kalahari
    Sands of the Kalahari
    Sands of the Kalahari is a 1965 film British drama film starring Stuart Whitman, Stanley Baker, Susannah York, Harry Andrews and Theodore Bikel, based on the 1960 novel by William Mulvihill. The movie was written by Cy Endfield and William Mulvihill and directed by Cy Endfield...

    , 1965 film
  • KALAHARI - Magnificent Desert, coffee-table book by Erwin Niemand and Nicoleen Niemand, spending 2 years photographing this magnificent desert.
  • A Far Off Place
    A Far Off Place
    A Far Off Place is a Walt Disney Pictures and Amblin Entertainment film from 1993, starring Reese Witherspoon, Ethan Randall, Jack Thompson and Maximilian Schell. The filming locations were in Namibia and Zimbabwe...

    , film, starring Reese Witherspoon
    Reese Witherspoon
    Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon , better known as Reese Witherspoon, is an American actress and film producer. Witherspoon landed her first feature role as the female lead in the film The Man in the Moon in 1991; later that year she made her television acting debut, in the cable movie Wildflower...

     and Ethan Randall
    Ethan Embry
    Ethan Philan Randall , although he is known and usually credited as Ethan Embry, is an American film and television actor. He is known for his role as Declan Giggs on the Showtime television series Brotherhood.-Personal life:...

    , based on the books A Story Like the Wind and A Far Off Place by Laurens Van Der Post
    Laurens van der Post
    Sir Laurens Jan van der Post, CBE was a 20th century Afrikaner author of many books, farmer, war hero, political adviser to British heads of government, close friend of Prince Charles, godfather of Prince William, educator, journalist, humanitarian, philosopher, explorer, and...

  • The Gods Must Be Crazy
    The Gods Must Be Crazy
    The Gods Must Be Crazy is a 1980 film, written and directed by Jamie Uys. The film is the first in The Gods Must Be Crazy series of films. Set in Botswana and South Africa, it tells the story of Xi, a Sho of the Kalahari Desert whose band has no knowledge of the world beyond...

    , film
  • The Lion King
    The Lion King
    The Lion King is a 1994 American animated film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures. It is the 32nd feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series...

    , film
  • Animals are Beautiful People
    Animals Are Beautiful People
    Animals Are Beautiful People is a 1974 nature documentary about the wildlife in Southern Africa. It was filmed in the Namib Desert, the Kalahari Desert and the Okavango River and Okavango Delta...

    , film released in 1974
  • Meerkat Manor
    Meerkat Manor
    Meerkat Manor is a British television programme produced by Oxford Scientific Films for Animal Planet International that premiered in September 2005 and ran for four series until its cancellation in August 2008...

    , television series documenting the Kalahari Meerkat Project
    Kalahari Meerkat Project
    The Kalahari Meerkat Project, or KMP, is a long term research project focused on studying the evolutionary causes and ecological consequences of cooperative behaviors in meerkats...

  • Survivorman
    Survivorman
    Survivorman is a Canadian-produced television program, broadcast in Canada on the Outdoor Life Network , and internationally on Discovery Channel and Science Channel...

    , survival television series
  • Top Gear
    Top Gear (current format)
    Top Gear is a British television series about motor vehicles, primarily cars. It began in 1977 as a conventional motoring magazine show. Over time, and especially since a relaunch in 2002, it has developed a quirky, humorous style...

    , British television series, featuring an episode following a desert challenge in which Jeremy Clarkson
    Jeremy Clarkson
    Jeremy Charles Robert Clarkson is an English broadcaster, journalist and writer who specialises in motoring. He is best known for his role on the BBC TV show Top Gear along with co-presenters Richard Hammond and James May...

    , Richard Hammond
    Richard Hammond
    Richard Mark Hammond is an English broadcaster, writer, and journalist most noted for co-hosting car programme Top Gear with Jeremy Clarkson and James May, as well as presenting Brainiac: Science Abuse on Sky 1.-Early life:...

    , and James May
    James May
    James Daniel May is an English television presenter, journalist and writer. He is best known for his role as co-presenter of the award-winning motoring programme Top Gear alongside Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond....

     attempt to drive three old cars across Botswana, including the Kalahari Desert
  • The Power of the Sword, novel by Wilbur Smith
    Wilbur Smith
    Wilbur Addison Smith is a best-selling novelist. His writings include 16th and 17th century tales about the founding of the southern territories of Africa and the subsequent adventures and international intrigues relevant to these settlements. His books often fall into one of three series...

  • "Lions of the Kalahari", song by Sam Roberts
    Sam Roberts
    Sam Roberts is a Juno Award-winning Canadian rock singer-songwriter, whose 2001 debut release, The Inhuman Condition, became one of the bestselling independent releases in Quebec and Canadian music history.-Life and career:...

  • The Lost World of The Kalahari, novel by Laurens van der Post
    Laurens van der Post
    Sir Laurens Jan van der Post, CBE was a 20th century Afrikaner author of many books, farmer, war hero, political adviser to British heads of government, close friend of Prince Charles, godfather of Prince William, educator, journalist, humanitarian, philosopher, explorer, and...

  • Mario Kart 64
    Mario Kart 64
    is a racing game developed and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo 64. It is the second installment in the Mario Kart series. It was released in 1996 in Japan and in 1997 in North America and Europe. In January 2007, Mario Kart 64 was released on Nintendo's Virtual Console service for the Wii...

    , a video game for the Nintendo 64
    Nintendo 64
    The , often referred to as N64, was Nintendo′s third home video game console for the international market. Named for its 64-bit CPU, it was released in June 1996 in Japan, September 1996 in North America, March 1997 in Europe and Australia, September 1997 in France and December 1997 in Brazil...

     features a racetrack called Kalimari Desert
  • Lead the Meerkats, a video game available on Nintendo
    Nintendo
    is a multinational corporation located in Kyoto, Japan. Founded on September 23, 1889 by Fusajiro Yamauchi, it produced handmade hanafuda cards. By 1963, the company had tried several small niche businesses, such as a cab company and a love hotel....

     WiiWare
    WiiWare
    WiiWare is a service that allows Wii users to download games and applications specifically designed and developed for the Wii video game console made by Nintendo. These games and applications can only be purchased and downloaded from the Wii Shop Channel under the WiiWare section...

  • Kalahari Resorts, indoor waterpark (largest in America) in Sandusky, OH and Wisconsin Dells, WI
  • The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
    The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
    The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency is a series of twelve novels by Scottish author Alexander McCall Smith. The agency is located in Gaborone, capital of Botswana. Its founder is a Motswana woman, Mma Precious Ramotswe, who features as the stories' protagonist and main detective...

    , fiction novel series about a ladies' detective agency in Botswana. Mentions the Kalahari Desert frequently throughout the series.
  • Tornado and the Kalahari Horse Whisperer, film released in 2009

External links