A well-known nature writer travels to the Namib Desert, “one of the oldest unchanged landscapes on earth.”
In search of a change of pace, Bass (Why I Came West, 2009, etc.) accepted an invitation to travel with his friend, Dennis, who heads a nonprofit studying South African rhinos that have been saved from extinction but are still threatened. They visited a Namibian field station run by the Save the Rhino Trust, where a collaborative project is underway. A high point of the trip was their five-day trek through the desert during which they had three encounters with potentially dangerous rhinos, including a mother and her calf. Armed only with cameras, Bass experienced the extreme desert conditions in which this once populous species now lives in “staggering” temperatures, with barely enough drinking water to survive. The author describes his journey as “not like anything I have ever done, hurrying to stride alongside this big cruising creature, an animal that could so easily dispatch, finish, erase any or all of us.” In addition to discussing his own experiences, the author provides interesting background on the Cold War era, when pro-communist Angolan armies battled South African forces, and both sides financed their efforts by selling the horns of the rhinos they massacred.
An exciting adventure, but may disappoint animal-lovers interested in learning more about rhinos.