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I Dream Africa

I Dream Africa

Reptiles

   

The dry lands of Namibia boast more than 70 species of snake, including three species of spitting cobra. It is actually the African puff adder that causes the most problems for humans, since it inhabits dry, sandy riverbeds. Horned adders and sand snakes inhabit the gravel plains of the Namib, and the sidewinder adder lives in the Namib dune sea. Other venomous snakes include the slender green vine snake; both the green and black mamba; the very dangerous zebra snake; and the boomslang (Afrikaans for ‘tree snake’), a slender 2m aquamarine affair with black-tipped scales.

Lizards, too, are ubiquitous. The largest of these is the leguaan or water monitor, a docile creature that reaches over 2m in length, swims and spends a lot of time laying around water holes, probably dreaming of becoming a crocodile. A smaller version, the savanna leguaan, inhabits kopjes (small hills) and drier areas. Also present in large numbers are geckos, chameleons, legless lizards, rock-plated lizards and a host of others.

The Namib Desert supports a wide range of lizards, including a large vegetarian species, Angolosaurus skoogi, and the sand-diving lizard, Aprosaura achietae , known for its ‘thermal dance’. The unusual bug-eyed palmato gecko inhabits the high dunes and there’s a species of chameleon.

In the watery marshes and rivers of the north of the country, you’ll find Namibia’s reptile extraordinaire, the Nile crocodile. It is one of the largest species of crocodile and can reach 5m to 6m in length. It has a reputation as a ‘man-eater’ but this is probably because it lives in close proximity to human populations. In the past there have been concerns over excessive hunting of the crocodile but these days numbers are well up and it’s more at risk from pollution and accidental entanglement in fishing nets.

   
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