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San Bushmen, South Africa, 1995

Photo: San Bushmen

The seemingly empty landscape of the Kalahari Desert is full of clues to the whereabouts of potential prey for these San Bushmen hunters. Bushmen can read the desert like a book, studying droppings, tree markings, and hoof prints to determine an animal's species, gender, and age. They can estimate when an animal has passed through a certain area by the time it takes termites to rebuild a nest that's been trampled, or a blade of grass to spring back upright, or a spider to repair its cobweb.

(Text adapted from and photo shot on assignment for, but not published in, "A Place for Parks in the New South Africa," July 1996, National Geographic magazine)

Photograph by Chris Johns

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