Application for Grant Aid

Submitted on: 28 Feb 2015

Expedition details (GPF2015a-007)

Expedition Name (& Club): Kaokoland 2015 (Gloucester Speleological Society)
Destination country: Namibia
Region: Northwest
Lat: -18.4951 Long: 14.2616 Elevation: 1306 m
MEF funding: none

Leader: Dr Mark Tringham
Total cavers: 7
Cavers ≤25 yrs old: 0
Cavers 25-35 yrs old: 0
UK/nonUK cavers: 7/0
Eligible for grant aid: 0
Alex Pitcher nominations: 0
Expedition dates: 5th Sep 2015 - 23rd Sep 2015
Duration (days): 19
Man-days in field: 14 Man-days travelling: 5
Brief Expedition objectives:

List a short summary of the main Expedition objectives.

To explore large karst areas developed in Neoproterozoic (Precambrian) carbonates in NW Namibia and evaluate/record new caves, their bat fauna and geology. Complete high quality cave surveys and photographic records of all new caves found.
How can the GPF support your Expedition?:

Please explain the aspects of the trip which make it eligible for Ghar Parau funding.

Support from GPF would help defray high travel costs from UK to this remote area. This initial expedition, if successful, could open up a large unexplored karst area (>1000 km^2) for future cave exploration and scientific investigation using larger teams.
Detailed description of objectives:

Give a more detailed account of the purpose of the trip, including any particular known caves you intend to visit, specific areas where you will explore for new cave, and scientific experiments you will attempt.

Locate and explore new caves in several areas between the towns of Opuwo and Sesfontein in NW Namibia. Local Himba people have asked a local aid development worker to determine what caves are present in the area, get them explored and determine what environmental value they have and what protection measures are appropriate. This worker has in turn approached GSS who have members who are part-time S African residents, bat experts and have worked in other areas of Namibia previously.
GSS have communicated with previous Namibian Cave explorers from Namibian National Museum and S African clubs and determined that only a little previous cave exploration has been done, mostly in the 1990s. Literature research has mostly been completed with the help of BCRA library and a systematic search for cave entrances made using Google Earth. Results of this show more than 20 unexplored features with possible cave entrances large enough to be seen on satellite images. It is anticipated that with local knowledge and work in the field that several smaller cave entrances will also be found for investigation.
Previous work in the 1990s indicates mostly vertical shaft entrances up to around 120m deep, located in hilly or mountainous areas. But the 4 caves described had little horizontal development. Elsewhere in Namibia caves up to 5km length (Dragons Breath and Arnheim caves) have been found in the same geological formations and it is hoped that some horizontal cave development will be found here.
Biological objetives are for the first time to ID bat species in the area and determine their ecological setting. If any discovered caves reach the water-table then there is a high chance for discovery of specialised aquatic fauna as has been the case elsewhere in Namibia with for example unique blind cat-fish species found.
The geology is of particular interest in that a thick >500m Precambrian limestone sequence accumulated 750 to 610 Million Years ago prior to evolution of any hard-bodied organisms. The carbonate deposition instead was dependant on algal and bacterial mats to secure the calcareous sediment. A further objective will be to determine the speleogenesis in this presently very arid area and determine the relationship between the caves, paleo-climate and local geological structure and stratigraphy. Any water resources found will be of particular interest to the local population.
Previous work in this area:

Give details of any previous work in this area by your own and other teams. Include references to reports and articles published on the area, and the names of any local cavers or academics with whom you have discussed the Expedition.

National Museum of Namibia and South African Speleological Association explored in this region for 1 week in 1990 and using aerial photos located and explored 4 vertical caves mostly with large shaft entrances. Their exploration and surveys are published in SASA Bulletin Vol 31: 25-41 (1990). A copy of this has been obtained from BCRA Library. Further exploration in 1994/5 resulted in a few other cave sites up to 120m deep. All the sites explored so far are listed in Namibian Cave Registry: . Recent email communication with Eugene Marais of National Museum is expected to result in surveys or reports of these other caves being provided soon. All entrance coordinates have been provided by E.Marais and this will avoid the risk of unplanned re-exploration of known sites.
E. Marais has been shown our new GSS Google earth Features and says they are ones not yet explored.
Modern geological and hydro-geological maps and book publications are available for Namibia and copies of these have been obtained on loan during Q1 2015 from the Geological Society of London library. These comprise:
1) \"Groundwater In Namibia an Explanation to the Hydrological Map\" G. Christelis & W. Struckmeier (Eds.) Dec 2011.
2) \"The Geology of Namibia Vol. 2 Neoproterozoic to Lower Palaeozoic\" 2008. by R. McG. Miller, Publ. Min. of Mines and Energy, Geological Survey of Namibia.

Expedition Finances


Travel plans:
5 members originating from Gloucester area will have flights from LHR to Windhoek via Johannesburg. Overnight in Windhoek then full day road travel to Opuwo area approx. 700km. Same in reverse on return journey but with possible stop-off in Etosha for wild-life watching. Probably 3 camp locations will be required during the expedition because the features of interest are spread over a wide area between Opuwo and Sesfontein.

# from UK: 5 Travel costs breakdown (for personnel leaving from the UK):
Total costs from UK: £6,125 Road travel to LHR GBP 25 pp.
Air fares GBP 900 pp
Namibia Vehicle Hire and fuel GBP 300 pp

# from outside UK: 2 Travel costs breakdown (for personnel leaving from the UK):
Total costs from outside UK: £1,000 Road travel in own vehicle from near Cape Town to Opuwo and return approx 4000 km total @25p/km = GBP 1000

Travel total: £7,125 Travel p.p. from UK: £1,225
Travel p.p. from outside UK: £500


Total: £1,470 Comments:
Subsistence p.p.: £210 Overnight Windhoek motel 2 nights at GBP 35 pp (2x 35 x 7 pax)
Camp food and water GBP 15 pp pday (GBP 15 x 14 days x 7 pax).
It is assumed that camp and cooking equipment and logistical support/permitting is provided FOC as part of local support.


Total: £600 Comments:
Subsistence p.p.: £86 Most equipment is already available from club or personal stock eg DistoX, PDAs, SRT. But further 100m 9mm rope, bolts, hangers and drill will need to be purchased.
Gas O2 detector and dust masks will be required for safeguard against bad air and histoplasmosis.
Exped Total: £9,195 Exped cost p.p. travelling from UK: £1,520
Exped cost p.p. travelling from outside UK: £795
Mean Exped cost per person: £1,313

Other Funding

Total: £0 Comments:
We are trying to get some contribution towards logistical support, food and local transport from Namibia local development funds, but obtaining this is uncertain.
Total shortfall: £9,195 Mean shortfall per person: £1,313

Referees and Report

Please give the names, addresses and phone numbers of two suitably qualified people whom the Committee can contact. You should ensure that they are aware of the objectives of your trip, and that you have their permission for the Committee to contact them.

Referee 1: Mr Chris Binding

Reason: Chis has expeditioned with many participants previously, eg in Montenegro

Permission obtained?: Yes
Referee 2: Mr Jonathan Maisey
Affiliation: Chairman Gloucs. SS

Reason: Chairman of club involved

Permission obtained?: Yes

Expedition report author: Mark Tringham