I was back in the Namib for June and July 2018 working on a new film project, ǂAonin, which takes a different approach to my usual focus on natural history.
Modernity merges with tradition as scientists in Namibia work with the indigenous ǂAonin Topnaar community to tackle contemporary ecological questions in the ancient Namib Desert.
The ǂAonin Topnaar are a pastoralist Nama community residing in the central Namib Desert of Namibia. In addition to livestock, the !nara plant is integral to Topnaar cultural identity and subsistence livelihood. Eric Shiningayamwe, a Namibian researcher has attached GPS tracking collars to Topnaar cattle to examine movement and foraging behaviour. Other scientists are examining the impact of livestock herbivory on !nara. The Topnaar have successfully subsisted in these marginal lands for generations; yet with modernity comes cultural and environmental change. Contemporary society undoubtedly has much to learn from traditional knowledge, but can traditional communities benefit from science...?