Written in the Sand
Author: J. du P. Bothma
Published: November 2020
The infinite skies and endless vistas of the Kalahari are an endless wonder to the visitor. Over millennia the Kalahari was transformed from a sea of water to a sea of sand where the ebb and tide of erstwhile lakes and rivers have been replaced by the ebb and tide of climatic events. Written in the Sand examines the origin and nature of the southern Kalahari ecosystem, its conservation history, the Kalahari San people and the research there by wildlife ecologist Prof J du P Bothma. After first being introduced to the Kalahari as a young post-graduate student he did many decades of research there which culminated in 19 years of intensive research on the Kalahari leopards with the aid of expert Kalahari San trackers who unravelled what is written on the Kalahari sands. This phenomenal cultural heritage forms a vital ingredient of the essence of the Kalahari.
The avid visitor returns to the Kalahari repeatedly because no two visits are ever alike. Each visit is an endless source of wonder with night skies which evoke deep thoughts akin to those of the poet and naturalist Eugène Marais who, beholding the night sky of the Waterberg for the first time, described the visible universe as a mere swirl of matter in a patch of abysmal space, so small and insignificant that its sudden destruction would mean less to the visible whole than the withdrawal of a single atom of oxygen from the Seven Seas. This book attempts to reveal some of the facts and myths of the Kalahari and offers but a small window onto the multitude of infinitesimal nuances of the deeply moving Kalahari Symphony.
“Written by one of the most influential international wildlife ecologists, Written in the Sand is a captivating book written in an eloquent and stimulating style on the Kalahari. It vividly portrays his experiences while doing research in the Kalahari for many decades with the aid of renowned San trackers whose tracking skills may be facing extinction. I predict that this book will become a valuable reference and collector’s item.”
– Dr Gerhard Nortje, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of South Africa.