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The San, a small ethnic group numbering about 40,000, are more formally known as Bushmen. The largest group is that of the !Kung, found in Kavango in the northeast and down the eastern side of Namibia to the Gobabis district.

The San rely more on the gathering of roots, seeds, nuts and other edible plants than on hunting. They often go without meat for lengthy periods but cannot survive for long without foraging for veld food, as this is also a source of water for them.The San is the only ethnic group in Namibia with no traditional area they call home. For perhaps thousand of years they have followed the migratory routes of the animals they hunted, although these activities curtailed with the agricultural developments that took place.

The proclamation of game reserves also closed off large areas to them and slowly, increasingly they were obliged to seek employment on farms where their extraordinary field craft, particularly tracking skills came to good use. Sadly, the numbers of San people are dwindling and unless some way can be found to create a homeland for them, Namibia’s oldest inhabitants will gradually become extinct.

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