Camel Trekking Through the Sahara

The Sahara is the world’s largest hot desert. It covers most of Northern Africa extending through several countries. In comparison, it is almost the size of the United States. The most common means of transport is the camel although vehicles are used too. Camels are an ancient form of transport that has blend in with the modern life of the people around. These do well in the desert as they can go for several days without water as it is a scarce commodity in the desert. For those who want to experience life in the desert, there is no better choice of transport than the camel.

Sahara Desert

Camel trekking through the Sahara is normally organized by tour operators in the region and abroad. Though it is not the most comfortable means of transport in the desert, it is worth experiencing at least once in a lifetime. These trips can range from one day trips to even several weeks trip around the desert. The experience of having nothing around you, the desert’s silence and heat, though harsh is an unforgettable experience. As you tour the desert during the day, all you can see are heat waves miles ahead that look like pools of water. Life around is non existent or very minimal. Sometimes, one can have the feeling of being in a land where no life ever existed.

The sand dunes are a beautiful feature in the Sahara Desert. These coupled with the mountains around make a spectacular view. They can be all that you see for hundreds of miles ahead. Though a desert, there are other animals that thrive well here other than the camel. These include the jackal, the sand fox, the nubian wild, the anubis baboon, spotted hyena, desert hedgehog, dorcas gazelle among others. Not many animal species can withstand the harsh weather conditions around.

Bird species can also be found around. Most are migratory birds and can mostly be found around or near water sources. These include the ostrich, guinea fowl, secretary birds, raptors, nubian bustards, desert eagle, barn owls among others. The migratory bird species have been known to be over 300. On the sand dunes and in the rocks, cobras, lizards, chameleons and skinks can be found. You can choose to spend the night in the open under a tent or in one of the Arabian styled hotels around. The nights are a big contrast to what you one had to go through during the day. They are cool, silent and very peaceful. The skies are very clear and brightly lit by millions of stars.

As the sun rises or goes down, one can have a spectacular view on one of the sand dunes around. As this takes place, the color of the sand around can be seen changing. Nights in the open are normally near an oasis. Meals are prepared over an open fire and it is a time to experience the delicacies and spices the desert has to offer. As you enjoy the silence of the still night, you can hear the tribe’s men beating their drums away miles across the desert.

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Bird Watching in the Sahara: A Treat For Your Eyes

One of the magnificent creatures is birds. They are among the loved animals in the world. They captivate the imagination of bird lovers with their color, intelligent actions and cheeky manners. Bird watching in the Sahara is one of the most popular pastimes of visitors who travel to this part of the world.

Sahara Desert

Location of Sahara desert

Sahara desert is believed to be unfit for all living creatures. Sahara desert which is the world’s largest desert is located in Africa and encompasses a vast area of the continent. However, the sighting of various birds in the desert nullifies the fact that it is not fit for living creatures. Although the desert is composed mainly of rocky terrains, oasis is also found where the birds and other creatures can live. For the birds which are found in the Sahara, they have to be rugged and have to be well evolved to compete with the harsh environment.

Must haves for bird watching

For bird lovers, carrying a binocular and a book in which information can be found about the various birds is a must. The book will help you to recognize a bird when you see them. A hat is also essential to beat the heat of the region.

Birds you should look out for in the Sahara desert

Red-billed Quelea, which is the one of the most popular bird are found in the south of the Sahara in Africa. They feed on plants for their survival in the hot desert climate.

Ostrich, a flightless bird which have become extinct in some parts of the world are found here.

The black throated fire-finch and the African silver bill are among the other birds that can be traced by visitors on the skies.

The desert eagle owls and large brown and white birds known as Houbara bastards can also be sighted in the Sahara desert. They usually camouflage themselves in the sand and among the boulders and search for their prey like lizards or rodents.

Raptors and ravens are the other carnivorous birds prevalent in the Sahara region. They feed on lizards, rodents, snails, toads and occasionally on the carcasses left by the jackals or the hyenas.

Locations from where you can watch birds

For visitors who love birds, they should stay at Morocco. Morocco has great ranges of mountains facilitating chances of great bird-watching. Oualidia in Morocco is an ideal place for bird lovers. Since the place is closer to the sea, it is a perfect bird watching site. Pink flamingos, seagulls, sparrow hawks, avocets, cormorants, egrets are all found here. Another place is the Blue lagoon, where you can see various kinds of birds which are not found anywhere else in the world.

Despite the harsh climatic conditions in the Saharan region, there has been no dearth of birds in this region. Three hundred different kinds of birds can be found in the region. Depending on your patience, you can watch great birds in the Sahara desert. They are not only a feast for your eyes but also marvel at the beauty of nature.

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Significant Strides in the Sahara Conservation Efforts

About 5,000 years ago, the Sahara region was not as desiccated as it is now. The area is surmised to have had savanna vegetation evidenced from the archeological artifacts. Human encroachment and degradation largely begun around aquifer oases and desert peripheries when rainfall was not uncommon. Human-wildlife conflict was imminent in these areas and wild game such as oryxes, bustards and addaxes was hunted for meat while carnivores such as cheetahs and jackals were killed for preying on livestock. As such the biodiversity of the Sahara region was severely threatened.
Over the years, it became palpable that unless major steps were taken to preserve both flora and fauna, extinction would be inevitable. Various Sahara conservation efforts were founded as early as 1972 and have been running ever since. Below are some of the principal conservation initiatives all across the expansive Sahara.

Sahara Desert

1. The Sahara Conservation Fund (SCF)

Per se, this initiative has played a core role in spearheading major Sahara conservation efforts. The founders of this program recognized that the once abundant Saharan wildlife is quickly fading away as the international community stands by. They have strived to preserve the few remaining wildlife, create a global awareness of the richness of the Sahara, and educating Saharan communities on how to harness natural resources without compromising natural ecobalance. SCF has partnered with numerous zoos across the globe to accommodate and restore endangered species some of which would otherwise be extinct today.

2. Antelope Conservation

Currently 25 of the 91 antelope species in the world are deemed endangered; 5 of which are assigned a critical status. The Saharan Dama gazelle is one of them. Numbering over 10,000 strong in the 1960s, the Dama gazelles have been reduced to a staggering less than 500 scattered all over the Sahelo-Saharan region due to their nomadic lifestyle. The Oakland Zoo currently houses this gazelle. Several other programs include Direction des Parcs Nationaux in Senegal, Spain’s Parque de Rescate de la Fauna Sahariana and Exotic Wildlife Association, USA. They have partnered with SCF and zoos to help conserve, reintroduce and protect Saharan wildlife, largely the antelope population of scimitar-horned oryxes, bustards, addaxes, Dama and Dorcas gazelles.

3. Ostrich Conservation

Mostly based in Niger and Morocco, conservationists launched international campaigns and local Sahara conservation efforts appealing for the preservation of the North-African ostriches. Several milestones have been made including local programs, constant surveys of ostrich population and migration patterns, health checks, and partnering with zoos to promote husbandry, conservation and successful reintroduction. The new Adopt-an-Ostrich Program seeks to raise funds, $500 per ostrich per year, to cater to proper care of Saharan ostriches that are pure-bred in US zoos.

4. Carnivore Conservation

SCF in conjunction with Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) and other NGOs provide help to the rare Saharan cheetahs, jackals, foxes, small cat species, caracals and spotted hyenas among others. Local nomadic herders are in constant clash with livestock predators and have resulted to killing these carnivores. Intensive surveys aimed at understanding carnivore lifestyle are undertaken and strategies to address human-wildlife conflict determined. Various zoos have embraced the projects while local authorities have taken groundbreaking measures to assess and tackle the crises.
These are just but a few of the numerous conservation actions aimed at long-term protection of the diverse Saharan wildlife and endangered species. Constant surveys provide data and tangible action plans for durable and balanced Sahara conservation efforts.

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