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In the middle of northern Namibia’s arid, captivating savannah, a block of approximately 60,000ha has been rewilded by conservation-minded individuals from previously unsustainable and environmentally counteractive livestock farming. The area is one of few in Namibia which is ideal for the protection of Africa's large endangered species.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to help wildlife is to preserve the environment in which the animals live. Internal fences were removed, raising a double game-proof fence on its southern and western boundaries, of which 80km is electrified to prevent human wildlife conflict with the neighbouring cattle farmers. Wildlife was re-introduced between 2002-2005 and by 2013 the last farm was added to the Private Reserve.
Today, nearly 50 years later the reserve can proudly state that they have converted 60,000ha of former commercial farmland into a conservation success boasting a healthy population of free roaming wildlife. A place of silence, solitude and a rare opportunity to be at one with nature and the giants that thrive there.
The Reserve is the core of long-term holistic ecological research. This explores the effect of different wildlife land-use types (National Park, Private Reserve, commercial game farms and communal conservancies) on biodiversity and ecological productivity.
This research is conducted in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment Forestry and Tourism (MEFT) and both Namibian universities. The research also investigates solutions for human-wildlife conflict which plagues neighbouring farms. Research is coordinated by the Biodiversity Research Centre of the Namibia University of Science and Technology in conjunction with international universities such as Potsdam University, Freie University Berlin in Germany and St. Andrews University in Scotland.
This has meant that several rural Namibians have been able to qualify with top-class graduate and post-graduate degrees conducting research on the reserve. They are the future conservation leaders of Namibia, and the reserve is proud to have played a part in their education. The reserve avails the land and subsidises a research station for researchers and students.
With global conservation areas becoming more and more fragmented, the reserve is one of very few examples where they strive to do the opposite. Having rewilded and connected livestock farms, some of the most critically endangered mammals in the world have more habitat to flourish in. This does however come with an increased poaching threat to these species.
Regrettably, illegal hunting became an actuality in Namibia and the responsibility to protect the wildlife against this unfortunate crime came naturally, but at a cost. The reserve established its own counter poaching and wildlife monitoring unit in 2017, which to this day is funded privately. Currently this unit comprises of 12 persons who are housed and cared for. The rangers are on the ground 24 hours a day and have completed intensive training programmes to ensure that they are equipped for an array of situations.
Unfortunately, several animals have been poached to date, but we can proudly confirm that a number of poachers have been caught and prosecuted by the Namibian authorities. The Namibian Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT), Namibian Police and the Namibian Defence Force are providing outstanding support to the counter the effects on the reserve.
Income to fund the reserve is dependent on tourism and is essential to help fund our counter-poaching teams. COVID-19 has had a significant effect in Namibia, as in every other country, severely disrupting tourism. Effectively halting income that contributes highly towards conservation initiatives.
Funding for the counter poaching operation has been received from good hearted Namibian institutions, but these funds will be depleted in the near future. Every bit of financial support will be highly appreciated, focusing foremostly on keeping the counter poaching unit effective in protecting the giant icons for future generations to enjoy.
"The world is not ours; the earth is not ours. It's a treasure we hold in trust for future generations." - Kofi Annan
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