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Namibia


Huab Private Nature Reserve

Namibia

Desert dwelling elephants continue to roam the spectacular area of the Namib and Damaraland and the bordering commercial farms in the remote north west of Namibia, as they have done for centuries. Today, the elephants range is constantly being decreased by encroaching human settlement - from western communal Damaraland as well as the commercial ranches on the east. The land is arid and harsh - not ideal for farming at the best of times. Some of the previous land-owners shot every animal in sight to make biltong (air dried meat). The Huab Nature reserve is affiliated to Huab Lodge which is situated in this area.

Huab Safari Ranches is an amalgamation of farmland between the commercial and communal farmers. In 1992 when the project leaders first came across this part of the Huab Valley on the edge of Damaraland and learned of the plight of the desert elephants, they founded a private nature reserve as a buffer zone for the elephants in particular, and wild animals in general between the conflicting farming interests. The ephemeral Huab River, which runs through the 20 thousand acre nature reserve, has natural water pools which attract wild life. The once severely over grazed farmland has been completely given over to wildlife and is gradually returning to pristine condition. Anti erosion measures consisting of half moon contours raised on the affected land to decrease the speed of flowing rain water as well as gabions and the filling of erosion channels are helping the scars to heal. The indigenous flora now has a chance to proliferate and provide food and refuge for the mammals, birds, insects and reptiles. The recent decade of care and a strict no-shooting policy have brought about remarkable changes.

Species such as kudu, oryx and mountain zebra have been able to survive the shooting parties of the past. Numbers are growing and the new generation is approachable. However, in order to re-establish the natural balance of fauna, it is necessary to reintroduce indigenous animals such as giraffe, springbok and ostrich, as all these species succumbed to the guns. Others are now returning of their own account. As the vegetation is no longer over-utilised by excessive domestic stock, the wild animals are drawn to the better grazing and can drink in peace from waterholes which no longer have barbed wire fences around them. They have been made "game-friendly" with drinking saucers enabling good vision rather than the original walled cattle troughs.

Animals that can now be observed in increasing numbers include the Hartmann's Mountain Zebra, a feisty small zebra with a quaint birdlike trill. Their ability to camouflage has to be seen to be believed! Large herds of oryx cross the plains or climb a stony hill as sure footedly as a mountain goat! A dainty steenbok may leap from its shady place or if you are lucky you could even see a common duiker. You may get good views of klipspringer on the granite outcrops. The best sight remains that of the majestic elephant. He comes and goes as he pleases unrestricted by fences. Plentiful water and food keep him travelling up and down the dry river, where he sometimes finds company with a breeding herd of elephants or other lone bulls.

The Huab Conservation Project also promotes the rehabilitation of the mismanaged land on many levels by:

  • enforcing anti-erosion measures
  • cleaning up the rubbish people threw around them
  • removing fences and allowing free passage for the wild animals
  • not keeping domestic stock
  • encouraging wild animals to return to the land by improving natural feeding conditions
  • making drinking water available in open saucer-like troughs
  • enforcing a no-shooting policy
  • re-introducing animals which used to occur naturally
  • encouraging natural combinations of animals that are mutually beneficial

Generous donations by individuals financed the purchase and installation of two solar pumps at waterholes. In June 1998 the Huab Conservation Trust was able to finance the purchase of 10 giraffes and 8 ostriches thanks to the generosity and involvement of the many visitors to Huab Lodge. Since then the animals have dispersed, as the nature reserve is not game-fenced. The intention of reintroducing game is not to fence it in and manage it for a selected few, but to assist nature in restocking itself. So while the giraffes and ostriches are not restricted to the reserve area they are in its vicinity, covering the vast tracts of land they require. This holistic approach is unusual but meeting with increasing approval. The new conservancies which are forming on the bordering communal areas realise the value of the wild animals and they also recognise the need to preserve them, not only for future generations, but for the basic well being of today's balance in nature and hence their own health. The tourism aspect of nature and wild animals is also being understood by the conservancies.

  • Huab Lodge: Agama
  • Huab Lodge: Elephants
  • Huab Lodge: Elephant At Swimming Pool
  • Huab Lodge: Elephant
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Huab Lodge
Situated on the Private Reserve, this is the lodge that started it all

Accommodation in Namibia