About barking geckos and fairy circles

Guest article by Edda Scharnagl

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In the deserts of Namibia one encounters many a wonder.

My favorite wonder so far has been small nocturnal reptiles that sit in holes in the sand and start their nocturnal chatter just in time after the sun goes down. They are called "barking geckos" here. I love their animated nocturnal chatter.

But since yesterday I have a new favorite wonder of the desert:

These are square kilometer areas covered with recalcitrant desert plants. In between, circular bare patches that appear in their exactness as if they had been punched out.

The so-called "Fairy Circles".

Why are they called that? Because no one can explain how they are formed. There are theories of fungi or plant poisons and also of termites that eat the roots in these places and the plants die on them. None of these theories could be proven and least of all why fungi, plants or termites do their work circularly.

This is where my favorite story comes in. The Bushmen (San), Namibia's indigenous people, tell themselves that at night their ancestors rise up from the Otherworld. They dance all night for rain and, as soon as it gets light, they retreat again. Their gyrating dance creates the bald spots.

Fairy Circles danced by San spirits. How beautiful is that please!

I prefer this theory by far to the others. In the meantime, I am comfortably waiting for the proof that it is not so...

Author Edda Scharnagl

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