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Climate Change Affecting Wildlife in Etosha Pan, Namibia

18.7S 16.4E

April 4th, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Salt Flats

Namibia – April 3rd, 2013

Visible at the top center of this image is the Etosha Pan, in Namibia. Although it is one of the harshest and most barren areas on Earth, the Pan and the surrounding sweetveld savannah plains are home to more than 114 mammal and some 340 bird species.

This animal life is sustained only because of underground springs that form waterholes on the outskirts of the pan. These waterholes allow animals to fight off the dry and the heat as they migrate across Etosha, seeking refuge from temperatures that can reach as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Without a subterranean water table and the numerous places where it reaches the surface, little game would have been attracted to the region in the first place. There are indications, however, that the climate may be changing. 1995 was the 18th year of below average rainfall in Etosha. Large herbivores, as a result, have become more widely dispersed in search of grazing, and the predators alsoseem to be ignoring their previous range limits to widen their search for prey. Lion pride structure has become loose, with individuals traveling huge distances.

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