Have you ever seen a Sociable Weaver nest in Namibia?

One would ask why the name “Sociable Weaver” for a bird. It’s because they have a character that is compassionate and social.

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They are self-made engineers, building the biggest bird nests that house various birds for years.These nests are a form of legacy, as they become a home for many generations.

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They rarely breed before the age of two, hence the young birds are able to take care of their siblings as well as other chicks within their apartment block. Simultaneously, they maintain the interior and exterior of the nests. This allows for more eyes on predators that prey on chicks and eggs, while older birds leave at sunrise in search for food, and only return at sunset.

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Surely we can learn how to be great people and neighbours from these birds. They teach one the essence of living in community, despite differences.

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Sociable Weavers or Philetairus socius, live in the savannah, arid dry woodland and mopane woodland. They are dull brown in colour, pale under parts and cheeks, faces with black masks, blue/grey bill, legs and feet. Weighing 26-30 grams and 14 centimetres in size. Constantly in motion, chirping and skittering along the ground for food such as insects, seeds and extract water from their food. Breeding takes place anytime of the year and lay two to six eggs that are incubated for 14 days.

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Large sticks (placed at an angle and pointing downwards) and grass (placed into the structure until firm), are used to build the nests. The sharp grass is used in such a way to protect from predators. Underneath the tree, grass is removed to improve safety from predators and fires. They can be built on electrical posts, telephone poles, quiver trees and acacia trees that are strong enough to hold them. It can have close to a 100 entrances and is used throughout the year.

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Electrical and telephone companies have struggled with the nests’ weight, because they become heavier when soaked during the rainy seasons and weigh the poles down.

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Some trees die as nests can cover it entirely. Smooth barks, posts and poles are used to avoid predators from making their way into the nests. Predators vary from rats, cape cobras, genets, black mambas and other predatory birds. Thus, it is important to be attentive when standing close to one.

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It has a similar look to a haystack and can weigh up to a ton and provides housing for at least 500 birds. The inside is lined with soft material such as feathers, fluff, wool and hair.

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Other birds such as pygmy falcons, barbets, finches, chats, tits and lovebirds, roost within the nests.The larger birds such as owls, vultures and eagles use the nest as a stand and build their own nests on top.

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Imagine an apartment block in the City Centre of Windhoek where neighbours know and lookout for one another. This is how the birds live in the Sociable Weaver apartment block.

Rights to Eddy Shipulwa

On the way to and within Gondwana Canyon Park, you will notice the nests, adding a quirky character to the natural surroundings in Namibia.

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Have you seen a Sociable Weaver nest? Let us know by sharing your story in the comment section below.

Author –  I’m Nela, from Windhoek Namibia but born in a small village called Omatunda in northern Namibia. I am passionate about writing, research and photography, as it helps me gain knowledge about people and my country.

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Did you know the Black-footed Cat in Namibia is threatened by extinction?

If you haven’t heard about this wild cat before, the Black-footed Cat is the smallest wildcat species in Africa. And while most conservation programmes focus on big cats, this little guy is under just as much threat.

Image result for black footed cat

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It may look like an adorable house cat, but rest assured this little beast can take care of itself. The Felisnigripes only stands about 20cm tall and weighs around 1-2.5kg. They have soft dark-goldish fur with a spotted pattern across their bodies. Usually they have two dark streaks across their cheeks and dark striping across their legs.

These little creatures have adapted to the desert lifestyle. Their broad skull and large ears allow them enhanced hearing to find prey in a scarce region. And they have hair on the soles of their paws to protect them from the heat of the sand.

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Found mostly in Namibia, South Africa and Botswana, the Black-footed cat prefers grass plains, sand plains, and scrub desert, including the Kalahari and Karoo Deserts. Legends have claimed that these little cats can bring down a giraffe. Obviously it is not true, but it does reflect the great determination of these felines.

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While the cats are usually solitary animals, females and dependent kittens do stay together for a while. Kittens stick with their mothers for up to four months and stick to their mom’s vicinity for quite some time thereafter.

Image result for black footed cat kitten

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The major threat to these little cats includes overgrazing livestock. This reduces their availability of prey. Poison in carcasses, as these creatures scavenge like jackals. The public is also encouraged not to keep these cats as pets. They are wild animals after all.

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When visiting the Kalahari Anib Lodge, keep an eye out for these awesome creatures.

If you have any information or stories on the Black-footed Cat, 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.

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What does Gondwana mean?

The Gondwana Collection is celebrating its 21st birthday this year. To the public we are known as a lodge group that strives for service excellence and to conduct business in a way that is environmentally conscious. One of our major aims as a company is to preserve the natural heritage of Namibia.

The basic history, summed up quite bluntly, is that four like-minded people came together in 1996 to create a place where wildlife could roam freely and safely along the Fish River Canyon. They intended to have this project funded by a temporary tented camp on the property. This humble idea grew rapidly and the Gondwana Collection grew into fourteen properties across the country.

Gondwana Collection Namibia

Some may recall that we once had a different name, the Gondwana Travel Centre, which was changed to the Gondwana Collection. I’m sure you’ve noticed though that the one idea that remains at its centre, is ‘Gondwana’.

The word itself has prehistoric origins. Scientists believe that there was once a super continent, in which all continents of earth were connected as one. This massive continent was named Pangaea. Its name is derived from the Ancient Greek words pan (meaning “whole / entire”) and Gaia (meaning “Mother Earth” and also the name of the ancient Greek goddess of earth).

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Rights to John Pangaea

This super continent was divided into a northern and southern hemisphere. The northern half was named Laurentia or Laurasia and the southern half was named Gondwana.

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Rights to ZME Science

The name of this southern super continent has unique origins. The continent was named by Austrian scientist, Eduard Suess, after a region in central northern India. This region is named the ‘forest of the Gonds’, after a tribe that lives in the area.

The Gonds are a people who live in central India. The reason the continent was named after this group, is because India had been part of the Gondwana super continent.

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Rights to Indianbijou

It is because of this rich background that the four founders of our company decided to use this name. However the meaning of Gondwana was brought in once again, when the lodge group received its new logo. To explain the logo, one needs to understand the origins of the company’s name. The new logo consists of the hand. A very simple but also loaded image.

The hand can symbolise history and heritage through the lines embedded in the skin. It can also be a welcoming idea, an introduction through a handshake. And of course it symbolises unity and the ‘coming together’ of people and communities. These are some of the reasons why we chose the hand as our identity. And if you look closely, there is so much more.

"You can see Africa & South America"

“You can see Africa & South America”

When you consider the logo above, you can see Africa. You can also see South America, as it was once connected to the African continent. And if you look carefully you will see Namibia, forming part of all the continents afore mentioned.

"Look carefully you will see Namibia"

“Look carefully you will see Namibia”

We here at the Gondwana Collection see the world as interconnected. One thing cannot exist without the support of another. This ideology is also grounded in our philosophy. We believe that we can only be successful if we bring the tourism sector, environmentally conscious methods and the local communities together. And so far this has not let us down.

If you have any information regarding Gondwana or experiences with the Gondwana Collection, we invite you to share it 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.

Jescey Visagie

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