Included here is the area named after the Nama (the plural being Namaqua), which is the name of the Khoikhoi people that lived here at the time of the first white settlement. It forms a narrow deeply dissected escarpment of inland Namibia that gradually widens in a southerly direction to eventually develop into an extensive plateau south of Windhoek. The Orange River divides the region into Great Namaqualand (in Namibia) and Little Namaqualand (in the Northern Cape). The southern border extends for a few kilometres south of the Orange River and stretches between Vioolsdrif in the west to Upington in the east. To the west of the town of Windhoek it includes the Hochland Plateau that varies from rugged in the north (with broad valleys and inselbergs) to a flat and stony plateau dissected by deep valleys in the south. Also included is the Brandberg one of Namibia’s highest mountains while other mountains such as the Baynes, Erongo, Naukluft, Spitzkoppe and the Gamsberg lie along the escarpment edge. Several different savanna types have been recogognised.

Enneapogon-Euphorbia Succulent Shrub Savanna

This vegetation characterized by the endemic or near endemic succulent shrub Euphorbia gregeria and the endemic or near endemic grass Enneapogon scaber, appears to be mostly confined to deeper soils on the gentle slopes between the quartz-rich granulite and the pink gneiss in southern Namaland. The vegetation cover is relatively high (about 40%) with the round succulent shrubs of Euphorbia gregaria being particularly conspicuous. Between the shrubs white tufts of Enneapogon scaber is the dominant feature. The grass Eragrostis nindensis, with its dessication-tolerant leaves, is also common. Other characteristic species include annuals such as Osteospermum amplectans and the endemic or near endemic Chascanum gariepina (Verbenaceae), Cleome angustifolia subsp. diandra (Cleomaceae) and the endemic or near endemic perennial forbs Phyllanthus maderaspatentis (Phyllanthaceae) and Tephrosia dregeana (Fabaceae). Like Enneapogon scaber all the grasses have short periods of physiological activity after the rains but then survive as bleached tufts during the dry season. Other species that may be encountered include Aristida curvata, Limeum aethiopicum, Lotononis platycarpa, Oropetium capensis, Salsola tuberculata and the endemic or near endemic Rhigozum trichotomum (Bignoniaceae) and Tetragonia arbusculoides (Aizoaceae).

Colophospermum mopane (mopane) Savanna

Lying to the north of the zone this vegetation is characterized by Colophospermum mopane (mopane). It can be a tree or shrub, depending on local conditions, and in some areas forms dense woodland, while in others it grows as a short-stemmed shrub intermingled with scattered trees. In the western part, towards the Kaokoveld Desert, mopane is confined to depressions and riverbeds where it often grows with Balanites welwitschii. Other important components of these savannas are Sosamothamnus guerichii, a species common throughout and S. benguellensis, which mainly occur along the Kunene River. Mopane savanna extends as far south as the Brandberg area; it then grades into the semi-desert and savanna transition zone, which is characterized by a great variety of species, many of which are endemic. Typical is Euphorbia guerichiana (Euphorbiaceae), a shrub or small tree with conspicuous, shiny, brownish-yellow, papery bark growing to a height of up to 5 m. Also common are the quiver tree (Aloe dichotoma), and Moringa ovalifolia. Two species of Acacia largely confined to this area are the Brandberg acacia (Acacia montis-ustii) and A. robynsiana. Other acacias such as Acacia senegal and A. tortilis are mainly found in the alluvial sands and silts along ephemeral rivers. Large numbers of Commiphora species is also characteristic of both the mopane savanna to the north and the semi-desert and savanna transition zone.

Dwarf Shrub Savanna

To the south, the vegetation becomes more open, and dominated by karoo shrubs and grasses. This vegetation type extends eastwards into the Kalahari xeric savanna. Rhigozum trichotomum is a characteristic shrub, while Acacia nebrownii, Boscia albitrunca, Boscia foetida, Catophractes alexandri, Parkinsonia africanaas well as smaller karoo bushes such as species of Pentzia and Eriocephalus are also typical. Tufted, grasses, mainly species Stipagrostis are scattered between the woody elements. On rocky ridges, the conspicuous quiver tree (Aloe dichotoma)becomes very abundant. In fact, near Keetmanshoop there is a small quiver tree forest now designated as a National Monument. Trees such as Acacia giraffe, A. karroo, Tamarix usneoides, Euclea pseudebenus and Rhus lancea are typical of riverbeds throughout the area.

Monechma australe-Acacia erioloba Savanna

On compact yellow sand in the Melkbosrand area north of the Orange River, savanna dominated by trees of Acacia erioloba, which can grow to heights of 7 m, and the dwarf shrub Monechma australe occur. Other dwarf shrubs include the endemic or near endemic Zygophyllum microcarpum and Z. simplex (Zygophyllaceae) but none of these shrubs grow much higher than the surrounding field layer that can reach about 0.6 m in height. Other field layer species mainly consist of annual pioneers such as the endemic or near endemic grasses Eragrostis annulata and Schmidtia kalahariensis (Poaceae).

Eragrostis trichophora-Acacia mellifera Savanna

This community characterized by the grass Eragrostis trichophora and the shrub or small tree Acacia mellifera subsp. detinens occurs innarrow, but deep sandy depressions in southern Namaland where erosion material from the gneiss domes have accumulated. This eroded material is mainly deposited by strong run-off events after rainfall and has good water retention. These savannas are therefore relatively luxuriant and have both upper and lower shrub layers. In addition to Acacia mellifera, the upper shrub layer also typically includes Pappea capensis.Both of these can reach heights of up to 4 m and have high cover abundances. The lower, dwarf shrub layer is usually intermingled with the field layer and grows to about 1.5 m. Overall land cover values can reach 80%. Species diversity is also relatively high and includes grasses such as Anthephora pubescens, Cenchrus ciliaris, Chloris virgata, Panicum maximum, Rhynchelytrum repens, Setaria verticillata and Tragus berteronianus together with Lycium austrinum, Ocymum canum, Oxalis obliquefolia and the endemic or near endemic Berkheya spinosissima var. namaensis (Asteraceae).


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