IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


24th June, 2024 Geography


Copyright infringement not intended

Picture Courtesy: https://scitechdaily.com/astonishing-discovery-34000-year-old-inhabited-termite-mounds-discovered-in-south-africa/

Context: The discovery of the world’s oldest termite mounds in Namaqualand, dating back 34,000 years, represents a significant scientific breakthrough with profound implications for understanding ancient climates and carbon storage.

Key Highlights

  • The termite mounds, known locally as "heuweltjies," are located along the Buffels River in Namaqualand, South Africa.
  • These mounds have been radiocarbon-dated, revealing ages ranging from 13,000 to 34,000 years. This makes them the oldest inhabited termite mounds known globally.
  • They are inhabited by the southern harvester termite, Microhodotermes viator, which continues to actively maintain these structures.
  • Scientific Significance:
    • Climate Records: The mounds provide a unique archive of past environmental conditions, particularly climate variations. During their formation, the region experienced significantly more rainfall than it does today, indicating shifts in climate over millennia.
    • Carbon Sequestration: The mounds act as natural carbon reservoirs through two mechanisms:
    • Organic Carbon: Termites inject younger organic material deep into their nests, enhancing soil carbon storage.
    • Inorganic Carbon: Calcite and gypsum dissolved during periods of high rainfall, contributing to long-term carbon storage through mineral weathering processes.
    • Environmental Impact: Understanding these natural processes is crucial for developing strategies to mitigate climate change. The insights gained could inform enhanced weathering techniques or ocean alkalinity enhancement projects aimed at removing CO2 from the atmosphere.


  • Namaqualand is an arid region of Namibia and South Africa.
  • Divided into Little Namaqualand to the south and Great Namaqualand to the north.
    • Little Namaqualand is part of South Africa.
    • Great Namaqualand, in the Karas Region of Namibia, is sparsely populated by the Namaqua, a Khoikhoi people who traditionally inhabited the region.
  • Goegap Nature Reserve: Known for its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, wildflowers, wealth of minerals, and cultural history.
  • Namaqua National Park: A biodiversity hotspot with the highest concentration of succulent plants.




Q. Namaqualand region is frequently seen in the news, it is located in:

A) Iraq and Iran

B) Pakistan and Afghanistan

C) Namibia and South Africa

D) Russia and Ukraine

Answer: C