Severe droughts and the effects of unsustainable land use practices such as cattle and sheep farming and large-scale hunting led to exhaustion of the soil as well as the disintegration of the multi-faceted pro-Namib ecosystem. To this effect the philanthropic vision of conserving this beautiful land for future generations was born as the dream of the late J.A. (Albi) Brückner in 1992. Today one of Southern Africa’s largest private not for profit nature reserves, NamibRand Nature Reserve acts as a role model demonstrating holistic biodiversity conservation balanced with financial sustainability. Almost 2 decades ago all landowners of the Reserve signed agreements and adopted a binding constitution that sets the land aside for conservation. The Reserve is financially self-sustaining mainly through high quality, low- impact tourism.
Over the last 20 years, our interdependent model of conservation and high-quality, low impact tourism has proven to be a very successful approach and has been seen as an example for private conservation initiatives around the world. The rehabilitation of the land and reestablishment of a flourishing ecosystem took up the majority of the decades past. Over 1600 km’s of fences were removed and various farmsteads cleared of undesired infrastructure, rubble and environmental waste. Furthermore, all windmills have been replaced with solar pumps, new waterholes were established or old ones relocated, farm roads reduced to single tracks and the whole area cleared of non-indigenous species.
The early days of NamibRand Nature Reserve saw nearly no game, but as the habitat recovered, wildlife population numbers stabilized and seasonal wildlife migratory routes have been reestablished. From less than a 1000 springbok, the population has climbed to over 11 000 in 2009. The Reserve now operates at carrying capacity for most non-migratory species. Occasional live game capture and relocation projects are conducted purely for resource management and not for profit. The Reserve’s environmental management approach is one of minimal interference and constant monitoring. Species-specific conservation initiatives are undertaken in partnership with relevant specialist organizations.
Endangered and historically endemic species such as cheetah have been reintroduced with the help of the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) and Naankuse Foundation. A total of 21 cheetahs and 2 leopards have successfully been released on the Reserve. Giraffe and red hartebeest have also been successfully reintroduced and their numbers now constitutea healthy population. The reserve is furthermore a safe haven for the endangered Ludwig’s bustard, a large terrestrial bird species. Their current population is estimated at 140 birds.