Namibia Economist (Windhoek)

Namibia: Return of Large Cats to Gondwana

Many years of conservation and restoration has turned former commercial farms in the arid South into a wildlife paradise. Great was the excitement when the Gondwana Canyon Park game rangers recently scanned the images taken from a camera trap at one of the waterholes, and found a picture of a female leopard and her two large cubs.

"Leopards actually don't need to drink", park warden Sue Cooper explains. "They can get all their water from their prey." Park warden Trygve Cooper adds, "Where waterholes are available leopards will use them opportunistically. Temperatures are very hot around here at present, so I guess the leopards were looking for a chance to drink, just like all the other animals in the park."

The waterholes in Gondwana Canyon Park are currently frequented by many animals, among them mountain zebra in particular. Every now and then the solar-powered pumps at the four waterholes on the plains can barely keep up with the demand. A few months ago a fifth waterhole was re-activated. Within just ten minutes the Canyon Park rangers counted 98 blue wildebeest, 45 red hartebeest, some 30 oryx, 60 springbok and 30 ostriches at one of the waterholes.

After years of reintroducing game which occurred in this area in previous centuries, Gondwana Canyon Park - which covers 1,260 km² by now - is described as the 'Little Etosha of the South'. Animals can be spotted at a waterhole next to the main road or on the self-drive routes through the private nature reserve. Gondwana's management said conflicts with neighbouring farmers are minimised by routine patrols to check the fence and by frequent meetings.

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