Why does the Namib Sand Gecko have webbed feet?

If you have been to Namibia, or planning a trip, add this little guy to your bucket list. The Namib Sand Gecko, web-footed gecko, or Pachydactylus rangei, was first described in 1908 by a Swedish Zoologist named L.G. Andersson. These small creatures were first discovered by German geologist, Dr Paul Range.

Namib Sand Gecko - Image: Pinterest

Namib Sand Gecko – Image: Pinterest

This interesting gecko is endemic to the Namib Desert and can grow up to thirteen centimetres in length, including a six-centimetre tail.This species can be found near the coast and up to 130 kilometres inland. Typically, you will find them in die Lüderitz area in southern Namibia.

Image: www.juzaphoto.com

Image: www.juzaphoto.com

They like living amongst underdeveloped vegetation and rocks, and of course the loose sand of the Namib dunes. In fact, they prefer the sandy habitat and are usually found in the coastal regions of Namibia. Sometimes also in the extreme northern regions of Namaqualand in the Cape, South Africa.

Image: Gondwana

What drew our attention to these little critters, is their unique look. They have slender little bodies and a flat, dorsal head. They have big, dark eyes with no eyelids. Instead their eyes are covered with a transparent scale.

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Image: Maurizio Lanini

The eyes’ size also helps the gecko detect prey.Their skin is almost transparent with a slightly salmon-coloured undertone and occasional brown stripes or patterns.

Image: traveller.com.au

Image: traveller.com.au

These colours offer great camouflage in the Namib Desert sand. Interestingly enough, the skin is so translucent that sometimes you can even see the gecko’s internal organs!

One of the gecko’s most interesting adaptations would probably be its feet. Why? Well, it has thin little legs and broad feet with webbed toes!

Image: Notes from the Namib WordPress.com

Image: Notes from the Namib WordPress.com

The webs allow for the species to burrow into the soft desert sand to avoid the harsh Namibian sun. And they also help the little guys to stay on top of the loose sand. The pads of the feet also have an adhesive component, to help them climb and run across the soft sand.

Image: Web-footed-Gecko-Pictures

Image: Web-footed-Gecko-Pictures

They tend to feed on crickets, grasshoppers and small arachnids. Sometimes they also lean toward beetles and other small insects that can be found in the sand.

Image: reptilefacts.tumblr.com

Image: reptilefacts.tumblr.com

Since these special little geckos are mostly found in the Lüderitz area, head down to Klein-Aus Vista and explore the region there. Remember that these are meant to live in the wild, respect their habitat at all times!

If you have any stories or information on the Namib Sand Gecko, we invite you to share them in the comment section below.

Author – Jescey Visagie is a proud Namibian and is passionate about writing and language. Tag along for the ride as she tries to uncover new insights into Namibia and explores what the country has to offer.

Jescey Visagie

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How to personalise your workspace in Namibia

So on average, most of us spend about 40 hours at work, every week. This basically means that you are spending more time at work than you are spending at home…take a moment to let that sink in. Having said that, it is important for all of us to feel comfortable at work, it is essential for us to feel at home, because basically, the work place becomes a second home.

Studies conducted at the Eastern Kentucky University have shown that by personalising your workspace – this implying your office, cubicle or desk – you can actually improve your productivity during the working day. The studies have suggested that adding something as simple as a plant or personal mug can boost your work moral and make you feel relaxed in the space, making it your own.

And lucky for you, this doesn’t need to be a daunting task. There are a few very simplistic ways to make your work space inspirational and motivating. To prove this point we have compiled a short list of ways to make your work space your own. Just a quick note before we take the leap – when decorating your space be sure to check if your employer allows it and be conscious of the ways in which you decorate, so as to keep your space professional and to avoid potentially insulting any of your colleagues, especially if you are sharing an office. Alrighty then – here we go!

Blotters! To start with a short explanation for those of you who don’t know… a blotter is the sheet of leather or fabric or other material, that you place under your PC’s keyboard to keep the keyboard from slipping across your desktop. This does not have to be a boring strip of brown leather though – unless that’s your thing – instead you could use a swatch of a carpet sample that reflects your personality and gives your desk a warm feel to it. It’s also soft and fuzzy to the touch. Or you could create your own blotter with photographs of all the places you would like to travel to, or have travelled to. The process is simple and you will definitely be able to add your personal touch.

Add some green to your desk. Plants are a great way to brighten up a space, and they also make the air in a cramped office a little fresher. And if, like me, you are incapable of keeping anything green alive…fret not, because fake plants can brighten the feel of your desk just as easily as `n real one does, minus the fresh air of course.

Inspirational quotes are a great way to keep you motivated throughout the day. You can tack them to your pin board (if you have one) or use cute little note holders to keep them in sight and in mind.  Another great way to personalise your desk is to add memorabilia from trips and travels. These keepsakes can be used as paperweights, desktop-décor or simply to inspire you for the day. If you don’t have any of these mementoes yet, Namibia may just be the ideal place for you to get some. You can find anything from a little pink hippo paperweight to a wooden meerkat that watches over you while you work.

Meerkat - Image: www.tilnarat.co.uk

Meerkats – Image: www.tilnarat.co.uk

Bring a personal mug to work to enjoy your coffee in. This will make you feel more at home and will add a personal touch to your work space. The mug can be floral, cartoon themed or perhaps you’ve hauled it home with you from abroad, another great way to remember and be inspired by your travels. Another simplistic and inexpensive trick to add a personal touch…origami storage boxes.

Origami storage - Image:  Brit

Origami storage – Image: Brit

There are dozens of designs to help you organise and store all those tedious little objects that clutter your desk, such as paperclips or staples. This is also a great way to recycle scrap paper instead of letting it end in the bin.

Another fun and extremely unique way to create storage for desk clutter is sand, I would suggest using Kalahari sand because of the stunning colour. You need only mix the sand with some glue and drip it over the bottom of a bowl. Once it has dried and hardened, you have a unique way to store paper clips and it reminds you of a trip to Namibia!

Kalahari sand - Image: www.southern destination.com

Kalahari sand – Image: www.southern destination.com

And we can’t forget about those horribly uncomfortable office chairs… somehow they just never offer enough support for your back and the seat is uncomfortably hard… Well, it doesn’t have to be that way and the solution is super easy. Get yourself a pillow that you bring along to work, it can be a standard throw pillow that simply offers a little added support, or you can get one of those lumber support pillows that strap to your chair. If you find the colours a bit too boring, brighten it up with some warm fabrics.

Chair pillow - Image: Buzzfeed

Chair pillow – Image: Buzzfeed

Personalising your desk or work space does not need to be an unnerving task, it can be really simple and super fun. And chances are you will be able to be more productive if you feel at home and comfortable at work, because as we said above, it is after all your second home. And a bonus health tip: it is really good for you to get up and take a walk every 30-40 minutes. This is to help get your blood flowing properly and keep your heart healthy and strong. And of course fresh air is never a bad thing.

If you have any other tricks for personalising your space, please share them with us in the comment section below.

Author – Jescey Visagie is a proud Namibian and is passionate about writing and language. Tag along for the ride as she tries to uncover new insights into Namibia and explores what the country has to offer.

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How did the whales in Walvisbay become endangered?

They are powerful and gentle, inquisitive and wise, compassionate and social. Nevertheless whales have been hunted worldwide for centuries because of the many products that they provide: food, oil, gelatine, soap and basic ingredients for cosmetics and medicines. Whaling stations were also set up on the South West African coast, the first one in Walvis Bay in 1912 and another one the following year at Sturmvogelbucht near Lüderitz. The latter was in operation for two years only.

The whaling station in Walvis Bay. It was completely destroyed by a fire on 31 May 1950.  (Source: Namibia Scientific Society)

The whaling station in Walvis Bay. It was completely destroyed by a fire on 31 May 1950. (Source: Namibia Scientific Society)

Walvis Bay was in fact established because of the large pods of whales that were once a common feature along this coast. Portuguese seafarers back in the 16th century called the bay Bahia das Bahleas (the Bay of Whales). The cold Benguela Current is rich in plankton and other nutrients and thus makes the South Atlantic an ideal feeding ground for whales. In 1726 the Dutch West India Company sent commercial whalers to the South West African coast. American, French and Norwegian whalers followed from 1780 onward and hunted Southern Right and Humpback whales to such an extent that both species were on the verge of extinction early last century.

Whale bones are loaded onto railway trucks.  (Source: National Archives)

Whale bones are loaded onto railway trucks. (Source: National Archives)

The most extensive whaling took place in the coastal waters of southern Africa. With the exception of Antarctica the largest number of whales worldwide was caught around the tip of Africa. Between 1908 and 1930 a shocking 73,500 whales were killed – twice as many off the Atlantic coast than off the Indian Ocean coast.

A whale in front of the whaling station in Walvis Bay. (Source: National Archives)

A whale in front of the whaling station in Walvis Bay. (Source: National Archives)

Two whaling companies operated in the “Bay of Whales” in 1912.  The Walfish Bay Whaling Company Ltd ran a whaling station while the Durban Whaling Company Ltd operated a factory ship. A total of 527 whales were caught during the 1912 whaling season and another 508, though mostly smaller ones, the following year. For the first time some thought was given to the protection of this endangered species, but the First World War broke out before any steps could be taken. Whaling was resumed in 1923 and 296 whales were caught.

As the numbers of whales dropped and large factory ships were introduced, the whaling station at Walvis Bay lost its importance. Processing operations were closed down in 1930, but repair work at the docks continued. The whaling station was completely destroyed by a fire on 31 May 1950 and finally closed down.

During the 1930s the League of Nations made first attempts to limit whaling, but with not much success. In 1948, some of the largest whaling nations refused to sign the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW) and still refuse to do so today. From the 1960s onwards many whale species were added to the Red List of Endangered Species. This has led to the gradual recovery of endangered whale populations.

A blue whale is pulled ashore via the slipway for processing.  (Source: National Archives)

A blue whale is pulled ashore via the slipway for processing. (Source: National Archives)

These days whales are occasionally spotted again off the Walvis Bay coast, in particular Humpback and Southern Right whales that come to the area between July and November to calve and to mate. Sometimes a whale beaches and causes great excitement. The giants of the oceans are back!

Humpback whales can be spotted along the Namibian coastline. (Photo: Wanetta Ayers, Wikipedia)

Humpback whales can be spotted along the Namibian coastline. (Photo: Wanetta Ayers, Wikipedia)

 

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