Kalahari Desert

 

Kalahari Desert

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The Kalahari desert (named after the tribal word Khalagari ~ waterless place) isn't a true desert, rather a semi-desert of reddish sand that covers an area slightly more than a third of a million square miles covering much of Botswana and extending into Namibia and South Africa and as far as Zimbabwe located between the Orange and Zambezi rivers. The reason it's not classified as a proper desert is that it receives rainfall (between five inches in the south-west to twenty inches a year in the north-east of the desert) and is home to a variety of animals and plants not found in a true desert. It is also home to the San people who live predominately in the north of the Kalahari. Temperatures range from 20-40 degrees in the summer months to freezing during the winter period. The area now known as the Kalahari Desert was formed over sixty million years ago when the area was a shallow water basin.



Exactly what happened is unknown, however the commonly accepted theory is that before that time the Okavango, Kwando and Zambezi rivers followed into a single channel that crossed through today's Kalahari desert area towards the sea. A few million years ago, seismic shifts forced much of the land of Botswana upwards blocking the flow of the channel and creating a superlake that dried out over thousands of years leaving behind vast white salt deposits that form part of the desert as we know it today. The Okavango river remains as the Kalahari's only permanent river however, as in its history, it no longer flows into the sea, rather empties into a swamp area called the Okavango Delta. This region produces the Hoodia, a plant that is world renowned for suppressing hunger, and, after eating it, the San people claim to go a further 24 hours without feeling any hunger, although there is no scientific evidence for any claims about Hoodia. There used to be over a million San living in the Kalahari desert, however that number is now down to about 2000 following years of persecution by neighbouring tribes.




Kalahari Desert: Main Lakes

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Kalahari Desert: Main Deserts

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