Proud Kgalagadi: looking pretty good

7 August 2006

Expecting red dunes and desert heat, Jazz Kuschke was amazed how good rains had transformed Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

ANY SEMI-DESERT WORTH its sand has a couple of showers a year. The past rainy season just saw the Kgalagadi have a few more than usual: the 172.2mm which soaked Mata-Mata camp throughout January, is nearly two-thirds the total amount measured at the same station last year.

"I look pretty good," said Kgalagadi - and she did, but there was no need for her to voice it; her lavish outfit was doing the shouting. In fact, she hadn't been that dressed up in 15 years.

Her most famous features - the dry beds of the Nossob and Auob rivers - were wearing knee-high fields of sweet Kalahari grass, randomly polka-dotted with lush camel thorn trees (Acacia erioloba). In their branches, sociable weavers' nests stood out like bling earrings.

The herds of red hartebeest (sure indicators of a good wet season), springbok and iconic gemsbok appeared almost out of place among the tall grasses, as if superimposed on to a landscape photograph of the springtime Boland wheat fields.

Her finery had first-time visitors - those who knew of her only from her red-dune days - slightly confused. Some foreigners even asked, "So, where is the desert?"

At 3.6 million hectares, she

Sunday Tribune - 6 August 2006Jazz Kuschke

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