Tern around
Issue 3 (November 2008) Until recently, off-road driving between Swakopmund and Walvis Bay was threatening the breeding grounds of one of Namibia’s endemic seabirds – the Damara tern.


Now a stretch of wire rope has been strung across the dune side of the road between the towns and driving beyond this barrier is forbidden. It is hoped numbers of the birds will start to increase again.

The total population of the species is estimated at 14,000, and approximately 98% nest along the Namibian coast, making conservation vital. Other breeding sites have been recorded in South Africa and Angola.

Although it is known to wade, the Damara tern does not swim but tends to fly above the ocean, diving or skimming for fish. It feeds nocturnally using excellent night vision, as this is the time when its prey comes to the surface of the water.

The Damara tern is monogamous; it mates for life with a single bird. It builds its nest on the ground using twigs, straw and leaves, and it is this that has made it vulnerable to being squashed by off-road vehicles.


• For more information go to www.tour.brief.com

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