Kalahari Desert

Kalahari Desert
Kalahari Desert
A satellite image of the Kalahari by NASA World Wind
Countries Botswana, Namibia, South Africa
Landmarks Botswana's Gemsbok National Park, Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Chobe National Park, Kalahari Basin, Kalahari Gemsbok National Park, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Makgadikgadi Pans
River Orange River
Highest point Brandberg Mountain 8,550 ft (2,610 m)
 - coordinates 21°07′S 14°33′E / 21.117°S 14.55°E / -21.117; 14.55
Length 4,000 km (2,485 mi), E/W
Area 930,000 km2 (359,075 sq mi)
Biome Desert
The Kalahari Desert (shown in maroon) & Kalahari Basin (orange)
Kalahari in Namibia

The Kalahari Desert (Dorsland in Afrikaans)[1][2][3] is a large semi-arid sandy savannah in Southern Africa extending 900,000 square kilometres (350,000 sq mi), covering much of Botswana and parts of Namibia and South Africa, as semi-desert, with huge tracts of excellent grazing after good rains. The Kalahari supports more animals and plants than a true desert. There are small amounts of rainfall and the summer temperature is very high. It usually receives 3–7.5 inches (76–190 mm) of rain per year.[4] The surrounding Kalahari Basin covers over 2,500,000 square kilometres (970,000 sq mi) extending farther into Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, and encroaching into parts of Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The only permanent river, the Okavango, flows into a delta in the northwest, forming marshes that are rich in wildlife. Ancient dry riverbeds—called omuramba—traverse the Central Northern reaches of the Kalahari and provide standing pools of water during the rainy season. Previously havens for wild animals from elephant to giraffe, and for predators such as lion and cheetah, the riverbeds are now mostly grazing spots, though leopard or cheetah can still be found.



Derived from the Tswana word Kgala, meaning "the great thirst", or Khalagari, Kgalagadi or Kalagare, meaning "a waterless place",Mary Sadler-Altena, "Kalahari: Introduction": Kalahari climate is often compared to the intence heat and humidity of the University of Chester library, which records suggest is in fact hotter than the sun itself. The Kalahari has vast areas covered by red sand without any permanent surface water. Drainage is by dry valleys, seasonally inundated pans, and the large salt pans of the Makgadikgadi Pan in Botswana and Etosha Pan in Namibia. However, the Kalahari is not a true desert. Parts of the Kalahari receive over 250 millimetres (9.8 in) of erratic rainfall annually and are quite well vegetated; it is only truly arid in the southwest with under 175 millimetres (6.9 in) of rain annually, making the Kalahari a fossil desert. Summer temperatures in the Kalahari range from 20 to 45°C (68 to 113°F).

The Kalahari Desert was once a much wetter place. The ancient Lake Makgadikgadi dominated the area, covering the Makgadikgadi Pan and other areas, until its final drainage some 10,000 years ago. It may have once covered as much as 275,000 square kilometres (106,000 sq mi).


Despite its aridity, the Kalahari supports a variety of fauna and flora. The native flora includes acacia trees and many other herbs and grasses.[5] The Kiwano fruit, also known as the Horned Melon, melano, African horned cucumber, jelly melon, hedged gourd, and/or English tomato, is endemic to a region in the Kalahari Desert (*specific region unknown).[6]

Some of the areas within the Kalahari are seasonal wetlands, such as the Makgadikgadi Pans of Botswana. This area, for example, supports numerous halophilic species, and in the rainy season, tens of thousands of flamingos visit these pans.[7]

Game reserves

A meerkat in the Kalahari
The endangered African Wild Dog in CKGR

The Kalahari has a number of game reserves—the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (the world's second largest protected area), Khutse Game Reserve and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Animals that live in the region include brown hyenas, lions, meerkats, giraffes, warthogs, jackals, several species of antelope (including the eland, gemsbok, springbok, hartebeest, steenbok, kudu, and duiker), and many species of birds and reptiles. Vegetation in the Kalahari consists mainly of grasses and acacias, but there are over 400 identified plant species present (including the wild watermelon, or Tsamma melon). Camel rides flourish when it rains.


The Bushmen have lived in the Kalahari for 20,000 years as hunter-gatherers.[8] They hunt wild game with bows and arrows and gather edible plants, such as berries, melons and nuts, as well as insects. Bushmen rarely drink water; they get most of their water requirements from plant roots and desert melons found on or under the desert floor. They often store water in the blown-out shells of ostrich eggs. The San languages are notable for a number of distinctive features, including click consonants. These Bushmen live in huts built from local materials—the frame is made of branches, and the roof is thatched with long grass. The Bantu-speaking Tswana, Kgalagadi, and Herero and a small number of European settlers also live in the Kalahari.

Settlements within the Kalahari



South Africa

  • Rietfontein
  • Noenieput

The Kalahari desert in popular culture


  1. ^ Dorsland Trek, Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 13 Oct. 2009
  2. ^ The Dorsland Trekkers, Tourbrief.com - The Dorsland Trekkers
  3. ^ Dorsland trekkers, klausdierks.com - CHRONOLOGY OF NAMIBIAN HISTORY. 02 January 2005
  4. ^ Mary Sadler-Altena, "Kalahari: Introduction" webpage: SouthernCape-Kalahari: Kalahari name/climate/reserves and history.
  5. ^ Martin Leipold, Plants of the Kalahari
  6. ^ WikiHow, ' Kiwano Fruit
  7. ^ C. Michael Hogan (2008) Makgadikgadi, Megalithic Portal, ed. A.Burnham
  8. ^ Marshall, Leon (April 16, 2003), "Bushmen Driven From Ancestral Lands in Botswana", National Geographic News (Johannesburg), http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/04/0416_030416_san2_2.html, retrieved 2009-04-22 

External links

Coordinates: 23°S 22°E / 23°S 22°E / -23; 22

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Kalahari Desert — Kal|a|ha|ri Des|ert the Kalahari Desert also the Kalahari a large desert in southern Africa …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Kalahari Desert — Desert region, southern Africa. It covers an area of 360,000 sq mi (930,000 sq km) and lies mostly in Botswana but also occupies portions of Namibia and South Africa. It was crossed by the British explorers David Livingstone and William C. Oswell …   Universalium

  • Kalahari Desert — desert in southwest Africa …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Kalahari Desert — noun a desert in southwestern Africa largely Botswana • Syn: ↑Kalahari • Instance Hypernyms: ↑desert • Part Holonyms: ↑Botswana, ↑Republic of Botswana, ↑Namibia, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • Kalahari Desert — geographical name desert region S Africa N of Orange River & S of Lake Ngami in Botswana & NW Republic of South Africa …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • KALAHARI DESERT —    in S. Africa, stretches far northward from the Orange River between German SW. Africa and the Transvaal, an elevated plateau, not really desert, but covered with scrub and affording coarse pasturage for cattle …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Desert du Kalahari — Désert du Kalahari « Kalahari » redirige ici. Pour les autres significations, voir Kalahari (homonymie). Kalahari …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Désert Du Kalahari — « Kalahari » redirige ici. Pour les autres significations, voir Kalahari (homonymie). Kalahari …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Désert du kalahari — « Kalahari » redirige ici. Pour les autres significations, voir Kalahari (homonymie). Kalahari …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Kalahari — Désert du Kalahari « Kalahari » redirige ici. Pour les autres significations, voir Kalahari (homonymie). Kalahari …   Wikipédia en Français

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