The Leopard of Namibia

It is sweltering. The heat feels like it is slowly peeling away the skin layer by layer. We’re standing in the badlands of the Kalahari desert in Namibia on the west coast of Africa. The Kalahari desert spans 359 075 square miles and covers parts of Namibia, regions of South Africa and much of Botswana. We live on the edge of this desert in Botswana and will be leaving soon to move to Aruba. We had to get in another quick trip to yet another African country before we left the continent. We chose Namibia because of its close proximity to where we lived in Botswana.

We rented a guide to take us into the desert for the day, because should you get lost in this vastness, you may disappear without a trace in the harsh landscape. I am astounded at the amount of life the guide points out. His knowledge is incredible and I didn’t expect to find any living thing in this remote part of Africa. The sun starts to go down and the view is spectacular. It is time to go back and spend the evening on the beach in Swakopmund where a breeze from the cold Atlantic blissfully cools us down. The beach is beautiful, but the ocean is too cold to swim in, even in this heat.

Namibia used to be a German colony and German is widely spoken. The German influence is also prominent in the food. Here we get to eat my favorite ocean fish, Kabeljou. It is a cob/drum type fish found in Southern Africa, belonging to the scientific family Argyrosomus Coronus. The meat is moist and flavorful and is highly valued as a table fish in Southern Africa, especially on the west coast.

The following morning we head out to kayak with seals and that afternoon we visit a traditional African game farm. I greatly regret this visit. We walk into a whole load of testosterone and boasting. This is not what I was hoping for. The goal was to learn more about conservation and what steps are being taken to stop poaching. Well, this is what the brochure advertised. Instead we find a leopard in captivity the moment we walk in. The ranch owner jumps into the enclosure and starts rough housing with the leopard. Something feels wrong here. I’m still trying to believe the best, thinking that this leopard must have been rescued and that they are rehabilitating it. Things get rougher and rougher. I have to turn my back and walk away, as this scene is starting to disturb me. Eventually Stan calls me back and I get to talk with the ranch owner: “Did you rescue the leopard? Are you busy rehabilitating him to release him back into the wild?”

“No. I went looking for a leopard cub in the bush and found him with his mom. I wanted a leopard as a pet and to attract tourists. I shot his mom and stole the cub,” he says boastfully with a smug smile on his face.

I felt the bile rise in my throat. Time to go. I need to get back to our farm in Botswana where there are not too many humans around. 

I will never forget the sounds of the leopard and its incessant pacing along that fence. The unnecessary capture of a magnificent animal for the sake of lining the pockets is an incredible injustice in the eyes of Mother Nature and a horrible example of the human condition.

To see more photos of the desert and beach in Namibia, please follow this link to my Facebook page:

I know it’s been a while since I’ve written, but summer’s here & it is time to tend to the garden and work on some summer salads & smoothies. Don’t forget to check the Decadent Healthy Recipes page for the summer recipe series.


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