sheep and goats, often overgrazing the land. The natural balance was disturbed, native game hindered in
their migrations by farm fences or expelled. Despite the huge sizes, in average years a farm
produced merely enough income to feed one single family. For the mostly white farmers persuading
their children to take over the farms more and more became a problem. The drift to the cities
with all its related problems became stronger.
Namibian and European investors in 2001 together founded the »Vogelstrausskluft« project.
The goal is to re-naturalise the area of three former Karakul- and goat farms, to re-establish
native game and to preserve nature in its original form.
The plains around Keetmanshoop in the south of Namibia - a semi desert dominated by sand and
rocks with only a few plants suitable for farming - have been used for decades to farm
state. With a big amount of private commitment all
across the farm fences were removed, dumps were cleaned up, stables were taken down and game was
introduced. To protect the newly formed animal population and to keep them on the farm area a
game fence was drawn around the farm borders, lowered were the native antelopes trails cross it.
Meanwhile a herd of more than 60 Kudu antelopes resides permanently on the Vogelstrausskluft and
the population of other kinds - including Oryx, Springbok, Klipspringer, Zebras, Baboons and Ostriches
- is also growing.
Return Spaces to Nature
In 2001 private investors decided to buy three of those farms located at the Fish River Canyon -
the Vogelstrausskluft, Koubis Noord and Koubis Suid - with an overall size of 26.000 ha, and to
transform them into a nature reserve. The government of Namibia considered a return of the land
for further agricultural use by the native Nama population but excluded it because of its meagreness
and approved this new idea. Some parts of the farms, especially those along or inside the canyon,
haven't been entered for decades because of their inaccessibility. Therefore they suited best for
the plan of preserving nature in its original
have been marked to protect the fragile desert environment, non-polluting energy
systems like wind- and solar energy were installed next to the basic systems to supply
all buildings. The infrastructure towards the farm
is improved constantly, like the establishing of a small airfield on the
dry plain of the pan.
To finance the project and to create jobs and acceptance among the native
people, the nature reserve was and will be prepared for gentle tourist use -
always with nature taking precedence. Close to the original farmhouse of the Vogelstrausskluft, an
exclusive lodge with accommodations for about 50 people was
built on one of the most beautiful locations on the farm area.
Being sceptical in the beginning the people start to accept the project. Without
excluding them, nature slowly regenerates. And by creating several jobs, the idea
supports the actions of the government in Bethanie
and Windhoek, to stop the drift to the cities and to improve the quality of
life in the local area, without destroying natural heritage.