April 3, 2012

0164 SOUTH AFRICA (KwaZulu-Natal) - Maloti-Drakensberg Park (UNESCO WHS)

The Maloti-Drakensberg Park is a transboundary site composed of the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park in South Africa and the Sehlabathebe National Park in Lesotho. Drakensberg (Mountains of Dragons) are some of the oldest mountains in the world, which form a 300km border between Lesotho and South Africa. Much of the Drakensberg area lies on the high plateau above 3,000m of Lesotho, bounded by the Drakensberg escarpment to the east, north, and south extending into South Africa.

It is renowned for the exceptional natural beauty of its soaring basaltic buttresses, incisive dramatic cutbacks, and golden sandstone ramparts, but also for its diversity of habitats, which protects a high level of endemic and globally threatened species. The park is also home to the greatest gallery of rock art in the world with approximate 665 sites and probably 35,000 of images painted by the Bushmen (San) people over a period of 4,000 years.

The images depict animals and human beings, representing an exceptionally coherent tradition that embodies the beliefs and cosmology of the San people over several millennia. There are also paintings done during the 19th and 20th centuries, attributable to Bantu speaking people. Due to the materials used, is difficult to date these paintings, but there is anthropological evidence that the bushmen people existed in the area at least 40,000 years ago, possibly even 100,000 years ago.

The figures are dynamic and elongate, and the colors (made from mineral and vegetal pigments) combine ochreous red, white, grey, black, and many warm tones. Common subjects include hunting, often depicting with accuracy animals which no longer inhabit the region in nowadays, as well as warfare, dancing or domestic scenes. Regarding "animal heads on human bodies", they are rather hunters disguised in animals, a technique often used by the Bushmen to approach by the hunted.

About the stamp
The stamp is part of a series with dinosaurs named Where Pre-history Meets Modern Technology, issued on November 2, 2009 and consists of 10 stamps with a 3D effect using anaglyphs. The South African Post website says that "an anaglyph is a stereo image that requires special glasses with red and green (or blue) lenses for 3D viewing. To achieve the effect, two views of a picture are printed in two colours, usually red for the left eye and blue or green for the right eye."  On the 10 stamps (5 depicting skeletons, and 5 show images of what scientists believe these creatures most probably looked like) the value isn’t specified, but only write to them "International Airmail Postcard". The stamps were illustrated by Chantelle Basson, a second-year Graphic Design student at the Open Window Academy in Pretoria. All the dinosaurs depicted have an African connection. The five dinosaurs shown in the stamps are:
• Suchomimus (meaning crocodile mimic) - It's on the postcard 0164 (the reconstruction)
• Afrovenator (meaning African hunter)
• Heterodontosaurus (meaning different-toothed lizard)
• Jobaria (named after Jobar, a creature of local legends) - It's on the postcard 0212 (the skeleton)
• Ouranosaurus (meaning brave lizard)

Maloti-Drakensberg Park - UNESCO official website
Maloti-Drakensberg Park - Wikipedia
The Drakensberg Mountains of South Africa and Lesotho - Ecological and Environmental Change Research Group

Sender: Angeliqué Venter (direct swap)
Sent from Krugersdorp (South Africa), on 13.02.2012
Photo: John Hone

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