The Sperrgebiet (meaning ‘forbidden territory’) covers 26,000 sq .km and used to be the site of a massive diamond mining industry. While there is still some small scale diamond mining going on today the Sperrgebiet has largely been left untouched for decades. Since it has been closed to the public for nearly a century, the habitat is largely untouched and pristine, making a visit to the Sperrgebiet National Park a truly unique wilderness experience.
The Sperrgebiet has a diverse range of flora and fauna, due to little human intervention in the area for 100 years. Forty percent of the landscape is desert, thirty percent is grassland, and twenty-eight percent is rocky. Roter Kamm, an impact crater in the southern Namib Desert within Sperrgebiet, has a diameter of 2,5 km. The highest point of the Sperrgebiet is 1488m.
There are 776 types of plants in the Sperrgebiet, with 234 being endemic to southwest Namibia, despite the Orange River being the only permanent water supply in the area. A study has shown that climate change will affect the plant life in the area, specifically the Succulent Karoo. Drier winters may lead to the extinction of these plants, as they are endemic to the Sperrgebiet. According to Morgan Hauptfleisch, a scientist who works at the Southern African Institute for Environmental Assessment, the Sperrgebiet “is the only arid biodiversity hotspot and this makes it a very special area”. It has more biodiversity than anywhere else in Namibia, supporting animals such as the gemsbok, springbok, and brown hyena. Bird species resident in the Sperrgebiet include the African oystercatcher, the black-headed canary, and the dune lark.
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