Kalahari Desert where is it on the map, which continent and area

In the modern world, there are about 47 deserts and semi-deserts. The most famous of which amaze with their size and landscapes Sahara, Namib, Gobi and many others.

The desert is a zone in nature, which is characterized by a flat surface, a rarity or complete absence of an animal world in the presence of a specific vegetable. There are deserts: rocky, saline, sandy and even arctic. Deserts occupy 1/5 of the planet Earth.

Short description

The Kalahari Desert is hundreds of millions of years old, its area (60 thousand. sq. km) makes up 8% of all of Africa. It is a depression on the earth’s surface with an altitude of 900 m above sea level. The Kalahari is second only to the Sahara in size. Among the driest deserts, it ranks only 6th.

Where is

They limit the Kalahari Desert in the west Namibia, in the south the Molopo River, and in the east the Transvaal.

Located in southern Africa, the desert enters the territories of the countries: Namibia, Botswana and South Africa. In recent years, there has been a tendency to expand the Kalahari Desert, which leads to its penetration into the following states: Zimbabwe, Angola, Zambia.


The desert has an arid climate, characterized by the absence of harsh winters and high precipitation in summer. From November to April, the maximum precipitation is observed (up to 500 mm). Severe droughts are quite rare here (once every 10 years).

Two climatic zones determine the Kalahari climate: tropics and subequatorial.

This desert is practically the hottest region of South Africa. But the winds here, as a rule, are northwesterly, as a result, the sands move to the southeast.

The following types of soils are found in the desert: red-brown, sandy, structureless, slightly acidic, characterized by low fertility, with low concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus.

In the area of ​​depressions and proximity to sea level, soils contain eluvium in their composition, differ in salinity and high content of organic matter closer to the northern regions.

In terms of geography, relief features and history of development, the Kalahari desert is very similar to the Sahara. However, it is characterized by a well-developed continuous, in some places dense vegetation cover. On this basis, the Kalahari is more like a deserted steppe or savannah.

In the north of the Kalahari, the plant world develops all year round, which cannot be said about its southern part, where rains in summer are very rare, and trees and shrubs are rare.

From a geographical point of view, the Kalahari is a desert, and if you look at it from the standpoint of botanists, then it belongs to the savanna.


The flora of the Kalahari is more related to the Sudano-Zambezia region. Trees are represented here acacias, herbs cereals. Only the southern and western regions can be called a desert.


The usual plant appearance of the Kalahari corresponds to the tree-shrub savannah (Lekkerbreek, African burkea). Acacia and Grevia grow in the Kalahari, cereals that form a green cover of herbs are represented by Stipagrostis uniplumis, Aristida meridionalis, Schmidtia pappophoroides.


Depressions in the Kalahari landscape with a bottom covered with clay soils fill with water during the rainy season. This place was chosen for themselves by low-growing herbaceous plants (Eragrostis devoxii).

Juicy fruits of wild watermelons, gemsboka are loved not only by herbivorous inhabitants of this area, but also by predators.

In the southern and west-south regions, the area takes on a typical desert look. In the depressions between the dunes, small shrubs grow, there are Crassulaceae and Euphorbia succulents. The flora here takes on the appearance of the Namib desert.

Euphorbia in the Kalahari Desert


The fauna of the Kalahari is diverse and numerous, since a special ecosystem has been created in it by nature.

The Kalahari desert has found shelter for many animals that are widely distributed in various savannahs of Africa. To the south and west, the number of savanna species decreases and common desert dwellers are increasingly common.

In the south of the desert, frequent guests are pygmy and short-eared gerbils, striped mice. The unique Kaffir Strider lives here. There are colonies of earth squirrels, rat parotomis, etc.

Kaffir Strider

There is a large number of South African porcupines, a representative of a special family of diggers the Hottentot grit. The reduction of the organs of vision does not prevent him from digging long underground passages.


The northern and central regions of the Kalahari are inhabited by blue wildebeest, kudu, Cape oryx and other species of ungulates. A large number of animals of these groups become the prey of large predators. In the desert there are lion prides, flocks of hyenas, cheetahs and even leopards.

blue wildebeest

Smaller predators (steppe cats, black-backed jackals) prey on rodents, lizards. Neighboring with them are three types of scavengers, representing the hyena family. They also live in the Namib Desert. Spotted, brown hyenas prefer the north of the desert, but earthen wolves have found refuge in the arid southern and western regions.

black-backed jackal

Earthwolves eat insects, eggs of birds nesting on the ground. Brown hyenas unite in clans (10-12 predators). In the Namib Desert, these animals prefer solitude. This feature is associated with the good availability of food resources in the Kalahari Desert. Brown hyenas feed on carrion, small rodents and lizards, although the predator eats wild watermelons.


A relative of badgers honey badger. Frequent visitor to the Kalahari Desert. Feeds on insects, bird eggs, destroys burrows of squirrels and gerbils. His favorite delicacy is the honey of wild bees, which also found refuge in the Kalahari Desert.

honey badger

The world of birds is also amazing and diverse. Multiple nests of weavers on acacias, among which nests of pygmy falcon can be found singly.

pygmy falcon

Ground nesting birds found throughout the Kalahari. 8 species of larks live here, which feed on termites, caterpillars, seeds.

In the central and southern regions, grouse live, capable of flying long distances to a watering place for the sake of offspring. These birds are unique, males can carry on feathers through 30 km 20 ml of water. Chicks suck water from their parents’ plumage.


The African runner is a small wader that breeds in the most desert landscapes and is not afraid of the highest temperatures during incubation. Hiding the masonry from the scorching sun, the bird clings to it, ruffling its feathers and compensating for the lack of coolness with frequent breathing. Termites eat them. It’s amazing that the bird doesn’t drink at all.

african runner

Reptiles of the Kalahari Desert are represented by many species: lacertids, mabuyi, agama lizards. Various species of chameleons have chosen the region in the southwest as their place of residence.

Agam lizard

Reptiles lead a terrestrial lifestyle, prey on various insects. Many species with camouflage colors, for example, Eremias lugubris adult (red in the color of sand), the young are black with whitish spots on the head and body (disguise as poisonous beetles). In disguise, juveniles even copy the “beetle” gait with an arched back, legs wide apart. Detecting persecution, such lizards flee. Adult lizards are about five centimeters in size, the color turns into a solid (red). The coloration of mimicry is replaced by patronizing.

Unique blind and legless Typholosaurus skinks live in the south. Without exception, all lizards lead a terrestrial lifestyle, but there are also semi-arboreal species.

long-tailed skink

What kind of desert would do without snakes. There are a lot of them in the Kalahari. There are poisonous and deadly individuals. Yellow (Cape) cobra, whose length reaches 2 meters in adulthood, it does not have “glasses” on the hood. She is endemic to South Africa. Widespread in the southern regions of the desert.

yellow cobra

African vipers have chosen a habitat near the Okinawa Delta. The black mamba is one of the most dangerous fast and venomous snakes in the world, also found in the central regions of the Kalahari. Unlike green, she may hunt on earth. Its speed in pursuit can reach 5 m/s, which allows it to overtake a person.

Black Mamba

A lot of snakes that are not dangerous to health and life lives in the Kalahari desert. The most common of them: shrub green already, copper snakes, house snake-Aurora and other individuals.

Brown Snake-Aurora

Often you can meet in the desert of herbivorous giants. Such as elephants, giraffes. They prefer life in the Okinava River Delta, but in conditions of floods sometimes migrate to the southern zones of deserts.


It is worth noting that in the season of drought the animal world of the Kalahari desert obeys the laws of survival.


The surface of the Kalahari desert is represented by horizontally layers of Carr (continental strata), which includes sandstones, pebbles and bracishes.

The continental stratum consists of 3 layers:

  • The lower layer (chimney suite) is sands, pebbles, sandstones;
  • The middle layer is sands, silicified sandstones, limestones;
  • Upper layer ferruginous sandstones, pebbles, sands of the Kalahari type (red), as well as ash sands.
  • The desert area is occupied by sand dunes located in chains 70-150 meters apart. In the area of ​​the Molopo and Kuruman rivers, there is a wide variety of sands (from bright red to brown) with color variability associated with the presence of iron oxides in them.

    Red sands were formed due to the destruction of tertiary sandstones, their size is 15-0.4 mm.

    Sands are given characteristic names. Red “red fingers of the Kalahari”, and light with a calcareous shell “sands of the Kalahari”. Interestingly, despite the desert, there is a huge accumulation of groundwater. The depth of their location is 300 meters. However, the water may be salty.

    Interesting Facts

    The amazing Kalahari desert hides many secrets and mysteries. It’s interesting that:

    1. The Kalahari is the only unique ecosystem on the planet that allows the desert to be home to many animals and birds;
    2. Even monkeys live here baboons;
    3. Termites help maintain a unique ecosystem, thanks to them the soil is preserved from weathering;
    4. Desert that is not a desert. The Kalahari is more like the African savannah;
    5. In the northern part of the desert grows baobab a lover of moisture;
    6. There is a population in the Kalahari Bushmen, expelled by the Bantu people into the desert. They lead a life of gatherers and hunters;
    7. The population of the desert is about 55 thousand people;
    8. Living organisms of the Kalahari have adapted to survive even in the salt water of lakes, which are present in large numbers in the desert. Salt shrimps lay their eggs in such lakes;
    9. The Okwanago River in the desert provides life and food for many animals. She doesn’t go anywhere;
    10. The Kalahari desert is home to crocodiles and hippos;
    11. The desert is known for the “singing sands” phenomenon, which no one has yet been able to explain. The local population believes that these sounds are made by evil spirits imprisoned under the sands of the desert;
    12. Iron oxide turns the Kalahari sands blood red;
    13. Sometimes the desert is threatened by a flood when precipitation in the northern part exceeds the norm. Animals are forced to move to the southern regions and later return back in search of food;
    14. There are two parks in the desert: the Central Kalahari Reserve and Kgalagadi (International Park). These are favorite places for tourists;
    15. The film “Meerkats” was filmed in the conditions of the Kalahari desert;
    16. The territory of the Kalahari Desert is equal to three Italy;
    17. It is known about the mysterious ruins located in the center of the Kalahari. After the scientist Farini, no one else saw this city;
    18. There are many diamond deposits in the desert;
    19. The desert is considered to be the birthplace of the watermelon, taken to Egypt and beyond;
    20. Literature describes the case of a UFO in the skies over the Kalahari. Sources claim that it was shot down by the US military 80 km from the Botswana border.
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