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Wabi History

and some exciting stories.

Dear Guests

We have compiled this history not as a means of indoctrination. However, more than 30 years of experience have taught us that guests frequently ask valid questions which often remain unanswered, mainly because the host does not always have the time to answer them.

We would very happy if you benefit from our thoughts and also share them with others. Thank you for visiting Wabi, and we hope that Africa has tattooed its mark in your heart (as it has ours) and that you are already busy planning your next visit to the “dark continent”.

Please check out https://youtu.be/cXsJUtFfa4s, there is a little film we did with a drone in October 2016 and then same route in February 2017 again.

Subtopics:

  1. History, founding, previous owners
  2. Drinking water, where it comes from, and general management - Addition 2012 Hippo Dam
  3. Electricity, since when, where from, and alternatives
  4. Game breeding, species, why, future prospects
  5. Game management, why necessary, purpose, numbers
  6. Combating bush encroachment, why necessary, invasive shrub species, success
  7. Veld burning, fire
  8. Biomass, provision of fodder
  9. Hippos
  10. Cheetahs, Kira and Denis in the enclosure, and farm cheetahs
  11. Leopards at Wabi
  12. Museum in the fireside lounge
  13. Hunting, why necessary
  14. Why Wabi stopped hunting
  15. Garbage collection, recycling

History

The name Wabi originated from the founding name of the enterprise – “Waterberg Big Game …” Otjahewita Pty Ltd – far too long to memorise!

Wabi has been a game farm since 1987 and was founded by Werner Egger. Although mainly utilised as a game and hunting farm, Wabi has always been host to guests interested in photography, guests who are passive towards hunting. In 2007, Mark Egger stopped all hunting activities at Wabi, the reasons for which will be explained later.

Wabi already existed as a farm since 1904, however it only surfaces in the Registr y of Deeds in 1927. At that time, its owners were Degenhardt and Schulz. The farmhouse was situated at the spring on the western side of the farm (for security reasons the ruins were demolished about 10 years ago). After that, the following owners were registered: first Alfred Wiedow and three months later Mrs Margarete Poppe. In 1939 Mrs Poppe sold to Alfred Bachmann, who in turn sold to the Dieckmann family in 1965. In 1974 Mr Delfs bought the farm.

Originally the farm’s Herero name is Otjahewita (No. 291), which loosely translated means “the last battleground” and most probably refers to the last encounters between the Herero and the Schutztruppen (German soldiers) at the turn of the last centur y. The farm was used as a cattle farm up to 1974. Then Mr Delfs erected the game fence and game remaining after organised capture operations was released at Wabi. He also bought the farms Schlangen and Teutoburg, both situated on the mountain. Wabi has since grown to 9848.34 hectares and has as such reached the size of 100 square kilometers. About 60 km of game fence surround the farm – as protection for the animals rather than to keep them captive.

In 1987 and after two years of hardship, Werner Egger erected the lodge and the farm buildings from scratch. Each day one of the tractors had to drive 50 km to the riverbed situated along the main road C22 to fetch sand for the concrete. In 1989 the lodge was completed and could be furnished. The Lodge, built mainly with stones from the Waterberg, undergoes renovations each year where necessar y, but many pieces of furniture, often freshly refurbished, and tiles date back to the time when Werner J. Egger founded Wabi. A few guests disparagingly criticize this as „seventies style“. We would like to remind them that Karen Blixen’s house in Kenia is lovingly antiquarian and visited by many guests each year.

Water

By means of individual pumps, drinking water is generated from boreholes situated 200 m under ground – this water has mineral quality. We normally pump about 2.5 m³, which amounts to 2500 litres per hour. We have four boreholes, three situated on the lower part of the farm and another, which feeds the waterholes for the animals, is situated on the mountain. However, being in a drought since 3 years the boreholes get weaker and for the moment ( end of 2016) we are pumping approx. 1.5m3 per hour. The boreholes can only recover if 2017 brings at least an average of 700mm and slow rain, which can penetrade into the depth of 200m within 2 years.

Additionally there are three rainwater-dams on the lower part of the farm, and these are annually filled during the good rainy seasons, fed by rivers bringing the water from the mountain. The large dam where the hippo cavorts can last for about two years without any fresh supply, before it completely runs dry. Fish, frogs and turtles dig themselves into the muddy layer and survive in hibernations, almost like a wintersleep, until the water returns.

On January 28th, 2011 – after 2 nights of torrential rains (200 mm), our big dam burst under the pressure, and the water poured out in a big wave that was 60 metres wide and 2 metres high, leaving a breach of 40 metres in the dam wall. 30 years of erosion, the roots of trees and bushes (growing 50 m away), as well as termites’ nests and the burrows of pigs eroded the walls of the dam over the years. In July, a contractor with 50 years of experience in building dams started the repairs: 2 bulldozers, 2 (dumper) trucks and 1 excavator were employed for 2 months to repair the damage. Costs: N$ 850‘000.

Unfortunately, this put an end to the most favoured activity of our guests: the hippo sundowner. Two hippos took refuge in the watering hole of a neighbour and were outside the fence. The third hippo, a young cow, stayed here at the Lodge in one of the smaller dams, which, however, nearly dried out. We dug an emergency hole for her and filled it with water until the repairs of the big dam were finished and it filled up again in the new rainy season. On December 7th, 2011, after 80 mm of rain, the dam had its first water intake and the hippos returned home the same night.

The garden is watered with water from the canal, and this water is bought from the government. This has become quite expensive and sooner or later we shall have to contemplate a reduction in the size of the garden. The channeled water is taken from Kombat through Wabi, usually in an open channel, which unfortunately, annually becomes a deathtrap for a number of wild animals, which cannot escape due to the steep walls of the channel and consequently drown. The water is pumped from the mines in order to get to the ore, and this has a devastating affect on Namibia’s groundwater level. It reaches Okahandja and Windhoek’s larger dams via channels, and here it becomes part of the drinking water after having undergone the appropriate purification process.

The average rainfall for the past 25 years has been 320 mm per season. Since then, rainfall has significantly increased, up to the record year of 2011 with more than 1’000 mm which corresponds to European levels. 2013 was another drought year for Namibia with barely 200 mm, the second-worst rain season since 1987. Whereas in 2014 we had the second-best rain season with more than 700 mm. Followed again by drought years with enormous feed costs. 2016 now shows us that “mm” do not necessarily mean good grazing land. This year, we only had 220 mm which, in 30 years of rain statistics, is one of the worst seasons, but in March the rain fell in perfect intervals, so that the grass grew taller than cars.

Our happiness was complete with another downpour of 99 mm in March which filled the dam.

Electricity

In 1987 Mr Egger constructed and financed an 80 km long powerline from Okakarara to Wabi. In the meantime, other farmers now also use this pipeline, e.g. the Waterberg Plateau Park. As power failures are quite frequent during thunderstorms, an emergency generator was acquired, which supplies us with electricity during these situations. As Africa in general has a shortage in power supply and all users are constantly reminded to save electricity, we have replaced almost all light units with energy saving devices, water heating supply is connected to timers and the large cooler systems are only utilised when necessary. In this way we were able to reduce our consumption by about 60%.

All our efforts at saving electricity did not help; the rates have increased, not twice but fivefold. The Egger family decided in 2014 to take the farm and the Lodge off the power grid and to build a hybrid facility on Wabi (investing N$ 2.4 Mill). The firm Hopsol calculated a 32.4 kw facility with a 9.5 ton battery and a 288 kwh charge, as well as an 54 kw invertor, to begin with. At the beginning of September the facility was running to our fullest satisfaction (with a few minor initial problems). Mark Egger then decided in October to change from a hybrid to a 100% solar facility with a further investment of N$ 320000.

But the step to “environment-friendly” energy also has its price. Despite a battery capacity of 288 kwh, 96 batteries, 54 ke Island invertors, 296 solar modules, our appliances with which to cool or heat cannot run during the night. We therefore ask our guests to use the hot water bottles and fans that are stored in the wardrobes of the bungalows and appreciate your understanding.

In February 2016 our solar plant got ill. The 72 batteries did start to die, which was only found out in July 2016, due to a programming error. After a lot of stress and a court case involved with the battery distributor, Hopsol installed new batteries on his own cost in November and December 2016, because of the warranty and their good business culture.

Game Breeding

Over the years the number of game farms has increased tremendously, some fenced off by means of high fences, which is a legal prerequisite when keeping specific species and is recommended as protection for the animals against poaching and illnesses.

Wabi has also initiated breeding programmes for various type of antelopes, the existence and natural habitat of which are threatened by overpopulation of humans in southern Africa in the long run. We have excellent breeding programmes for Nyala (South Africa) and Red Letchwe (Caprivi). We have managed to increase the number of antelopes from 30 to 120 over a period of 10 years in spite of the sales of live animals, trophy hunting and natural losses. Our white rhinos are just as successful – our visitors are always awestruck by the mighty and simultaneously peaceful appearance of this proud animal.

In 2012 we gave up our breeding programme for Nyala. There are still about 25 animals enjoying the Wabi bush. We have demolished most of the breeding camps. A baboon has destroyed the entire offspring of Nyala in two years, and we were not successful in killing him. Baboons are omnivores and therefore eat meat. They are a big problem, especially if they have been cast out of the pack and consequently are without social support. In the end we learned, that small breeding camps are not viable for longer periods, because the animals bred in there, are not accustomed to live in the bush with predators.

Game Management

About 1700 animals (large game, antelopes and predators) live at Wabi, and these need to be managed extensively in order to maintain a balanced habitat for all – large and small. The number of animals was regulated by means of hunting (previously for trophies and meat) and live sales by means of capture operations. There are farms where so-called culling sessions take place. This implies that overpopulation of cer tain species is counteracted by shooting for meat. This unpopular type of animal reduction, specifically with regard to elephants in South Africa, regularly causes public debate.

However, if nothing is done and the game is left to its own devices, the consequences are just as disastrous – namely overgrazing, extensive bush encroachment, drought and finally the total collapse of the habitat. This obviously also applies to cattle farms.

Mark Egger had to provide fodder in the amount of 3.2 Mill in the drought years 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 to ensure the well-being of the animals and their offspring. 2014 was a successful year with 2 hippo and 2 rhino calves and 1 buffalo calf. As of date (2016), this offspring has been weaned off. In Januar y 2016, we got one young buffalo, the hippos had one calf in March, and both rhino cows delivered bull calf in April and June.

Combating Bush Encroachment

Greater parts of Wabi are affected by the encroachment of invasive bush species, which, in comparison to indigenous species with a deeper root system, have extensive surface root systems close to the surface (30m wide and more) and thus deprive the grass of the surface water. This favours the growth of smaller bush seeds, but in the long run destroys any type of grass-pasture, as rain and sun cannot reach the grass seeds under the persistent brush, and as a result, germination of the seed grasses is prevented. This vicious circle results in extensive erosion, decreasing water levels and the extinction of indigenous bush and tree species, as the surface water fails to seep into the ground.

For 20 years we have persistently combated bush encroachment in the areas mainly affected by invasive bush species, including two types of acacia: blackthorn acacia and the sicklebush. On one hectare (100 x 100m) about 2000 to 5000 bushes can prevent the existence of all other types of vegetations. For years we have been experimenting with regard to bush control (fire, bulldozers, stumping/ felling manually), but the growth is currently controlled by means of a liquid hormone substance that is selectively sprayed onto each bush. 1cc covers a bush of about knee height, anything larger will correspondingly need more.

During the past 10 years we have come to witness the effect of this costly yet only effective method of bush control. Where previously extensive areas were covered by bush and nothing could pass through, we are now able to witness the growth of annual and perennial grasses and fodderbush such as raisinbush, buffalo thorn (wag-‘n-bietjie), camelthorn, the silver cluster-leaf and the Kalahari appleleaf, which all cohabitate harmoniously. Our valuable riverbed, which displays a unique camelthorn forest consisting of century-old trees, bears witness to this success. For the first time in three years, trees, that were believed to be dead because their roots could not find any water at a depth of 60 m due to the groundwater being unable to sink through, have suddenly come into leaf. The groundwater level has sunk by 20 to 30 m and probably recovered due to persistent bush control along the slopes of the riverbed. Recurring perennial grasses visibly decelerate the running of the rainwater, and consequently less erosion occurs.

Since the death of our rhino bull “Bulli” in 2011, we have abstained from further measures of bush control. Our bull died exactly where hired workers were implementing the hormone treatment into bushes. Unfortunately, one of the side effects of employing part-time hired workers is the fact that they lay out slings, or worse things happen as with our Bulli.

Fire

In the middle of October 2010, 3500 ha (35 km2) were burned down in 4 days on the Wabi Plateau. Besides water, fire is one of the most important elements of nature. Dead undergrowth and old grass not only hinder animals from running freely, but also prevent new seeds from penetrating the soil. Therefore, it is advisable to burn down old growth at least every 5 to 6 years (in a controlled manner). Ashes are a great fertilizer and, 3 to 4 weeks after the fire, new grass and young shrubs start to grow again, even without rain.

2012, a wild fire destroyed about 500 m of the North fence because our neighbour did not clear land as a fire barrier zone along the fence. As the repairs of the wire fence took some weeks, our Kudu population was infected with rabies from the outside (no infections on our farm for 25 years). In the winter of 2013 we discovered between 80 and 90 cadavers and burnt them; the estimated number of undiscovered carcases is significantly higher. As recently as October 2014, we had to kill a Kudu bull who was attacking cars in our workshop. Strangely enough, mostly old animals are affected. In September 2015 we tried to save our population by “dropout injections” from a helicopter. In 8 hours we inoculated over 200 animals. In October 2015, there were two more deaths, since then we did not discover any other animals with symptoms. In 2014 we had a contractor create 90 km of fires lines with a grader to prevent the spreading of fire.

Since the beginning of 2014 the 60 km long fence is being renewed. Costs per kilometer, including material, about 4000 Euros.

Biomass Animals, Provision of Fodder

The abovementioned fodderbush species are welcome, as they generally offer leaf-eaters such as eland, kudus, nyalas, giraffes, black rhinos and many other animals a well-balanced diet. The increasing growth of grass could decrease the cost of fodder during months of drought considerably, as animals will become self-sustaining. Fifteen years ago and depending on the rainfall from April/May until the beginning of the next rainy season, the wild animals at Wabi were annually fed in vast amounts of buffalo grass and alfalfa for about 8 months. In 2008, five years after the hormonal bush control, only big game such as hippos and rhinos had to be provided with additional fodder as from August. The food situation again became critical from November on, when we decided to provide supplementary food for all other species.

The entire animal population of Wabi generates a live biomass (weight) of about 250 tons. In order to survive, each animal needs to eat about 3% of its own weight each day. This implies that Wabi needs to provide 7.5 tons biomass of food per day for all animals. This amounts to 225 tons per month and a devastating 2700 tons annually. A hippo for instance eats 60 kg of greens per day.

Depending on its loading capacity, a truck can transport about 20 tons of fodder. Thus the production of fodder, that we annually need at Wabi to feed 1700 wild animals on 10,000 hectares, would fill 135 trucks. (Status 2008)

Nothing much has changed since 2008. Every year presents different conditions and we have to adapt our measures accordingly. If a drought occurs, the Farm cannot sustain the welfare of 1700 animals.

Hippos

Even though we have kept hippos on Wabi for the last 10 years, we have not yet written down their story. 2004, 3 hippos were transported in a big truck in 48 hours over 2000 km from RSA through Botswana to Wabi. After arriving, the animals were unloaded the same night at the watering hole (in front of B 1-4); two adult cows, and 1 calf of about 8 months which we had not ordered (our order being: 2 adult cows and an adolescent bull). As we were not expecting a calf, the iron meshes of the fence, which should have kept the hippos in the watering hole for a while after being unloaded, were too big. After the calf simply swam through, the mother broke out and in the same night just ran with her offspring to the dam, 4 km away. The second cow at first stayed for 2 days in the watering hole but was looking for her familiy. After 3 days we also found her in the dam.

2006, 1.5 years old, the hippo calf (female) was severely injured through the thoughtlessness of a hunting party from America. They ran around at the dam (strictly forbidden) and startled the adolescent animal, who was sleeping behind the dam. Following its instinct to flee to the water, it run up the dam wall and fell down on the other side so disastrously that it tore a ligament, that moves the leg, in its neck. At first, we thought it had broken its shoulder but a veterinary examination proved otherwise. We had to ask ourselves: shoot it or feed it for the rest of its life ? We chose the second option: a long and hard way for both, hippo and man. Since then, we feed the hippo cow twice a day, so that she does not have to leave the water. This reduces her weight by 50 % and inflammations of her leg can be avoided.

After we knew in 2008 that we did not get a bull, we tried in vain for 2 years to get another bull from other hippo owners in Namibia and South Africa. In September 2010, we managed to buy at an auction a 6-year-old bull from the Limpopo area in RSA and had him transported over 2000 km to Wabi. After 3 weeks of fights between the dominant cow and the newcomer, the cow finally accepted him.

Our strong-hearted invalid cow even survived the breach of the dam. After desperately looking for water (we had already alarmed the vet and a crane truck and they were on their way from Windhoek), she dragged herself over 1.5 km to the so-called red dam and was safe for the time being. Both of the healthy hippos took shelter in a neighbour’s watering hole (near route D2512) and stayed there for 8 months. A lot of fences were destroyed, but thankfully our neighbour was patient and did not hunt them down. Luckily, no accidents with cars or pedestrians happened and nobody got hurt. On December 8, 2011, after 80 mm of rain, our two runaways returned the same night to the dam and a few days later, our survivor also joined them.

At the beginning of 2012, we found a dead hippo calf, cause of death unknown, maybe a premature delivery or stillbirth. In November 2012, the first hippo offspring was finally born, which we are very proud of. We were completely surprised when, in February 2014, our invalid lady also gave birth to a calf, in the red dam, away from the other hippos. At the end of March, the second cow also calved, so that we now have a family of 6 hippos.

In March 2016, precisely during the night when heavy rainfalls filled the dam, another little hippo was born.

Cheetahs

You were welcome to visit Kira, a female and Denis, a male in the enclosure opposite the bungalows. Feeding took place every morning. Kira (6) used to be a wild animal, but due to a broken leg and her fall into one of the open water channels in Namibia, she can no longer take care of herself in the wild. She is no longer able to reach a speed of 90 km/h and would thus starve miserably. Denis (4), on a loan from a cat foundation, was brought here two years ago, then an adolescent tomcat consisting of only skin and bones who had been caught by farmers by the tail and dropped off at the foundation. As all enclosures at the foundation were occupied, we were asked to care of the animal. It seems that Denis was raised in captivity and has never learnt to hunt.

Cheetahs work hard to stay alive. They need open bushlands or plains to hunt, and due to their body weight (females up to 35 kg, males up to 45 kg) they prefer smaller types of antelopes such as springbok and impalas. Should these not be available, they even turn to goats and sheep, obviously much to the regret of the farmers. Cheetahs can often hunt in packs or families and only move as loners once they are old. They have evolved as fresh meat eaters and thus do not eat carrion. As cheetahs form the end of the predator food chain, their prey is quite frequently stolen by leopards, hyenas, jackals etc. Should a cheetah not sacrifice his prey, he might lose his life, as predators tend to eliminate their feeding rivals.

Cheetahs do not hide their prey, they usually eat for about an hour and the rest of the prey is eaten by vultures, jackals etc. This forces them to hunt every two days in order to accumulate enough energy for the hunt. In contrast to leopards, this does not help to increase their popularity with farmers as more prey animals are killed per week.

Cheetahs usually hunt in a pack at an extremely high speed (up to 90 km/h), the prey is chased for two to three minutes. After that, the cheetah is too exhausted to continue and needs to rest for a few hours, before he can have a second go. Should he be successful, he throttles the prey.

Wabi is frequented by wild cheetahs, two of which unfortunately became a problem during the past few years; in 2007 a male killed 18 Red Lechwe within six weeks and in 2006 another male killed 30 Red Lechwe in a period of eight weeks. They started with the young animals and ended with the does in calf. For the sake of the existing wildlife populations, both cats had to be eliminated, as the breeding and financial damage (48 Red Lechwe = N$480,000) exceeds the limit of even the biggest cat lover. Both cats would not have stopped once the last huntable Lechwe had been caught – they had already settled here for convenience’s sake. This behaviour can however, not be regarded as the norm – these two cats were old animals that had separated from their tribe and were looking for easy prey. They made use of the fences to corner their prey. Cheetahs are not usually bound by territories, but have a gigantic living habitat of about a few hundred square kilometres; this implies that they usually move through Wabi but do not settle here, and this does not generally pose a threat to the game population. Since 2007 we have repeatedly had sightings of cheetahs and their tracks, but never again had to kill one as a problem animal.

In 2011 we realized that Denis was completely blind and the vet confirmed that he either lost his sight because of toxoplasmosis (dangerous for pregnant women as well) or because of a tumour on his pituitary gland. As Kira already was 12 years old and we did not get a transport permit from Nature Conservation or find a new home for her in Namibia, we decided with deep regret to have them both put down in February. Both remain in our hearts forever. We will not replace them because we do not believe in keeping cats in an enclosure anymore.

Leopards

Leopards have extensive territories, the boundaries of which overlap. This implies that the territory of a female leopard overlaps with that of several male leopards, which ensures the reproduction of a genetically strong offspring, as a cat rarely meets the same male twice. In an area overlapping with neighbouring farms, we at Wabi shelter about 8 to 10 leopards, two of which are dominant males and four mature females. The remainder comprises of adolescents and cubs, who have to stay away from the adult leopards so as not to be eaten. The leopard is not a social animal, and cannibalism is not unusual. The leopard hunts in ambush and attacks its prey by the neck by jumping from trees or rocks; usually the leopard breaks the prey’s neck or throttles it by its throat. They may then take several hours to fatigue the prey and then throttle it. Naturally, they also often lose their prey. Mature male leopards (at a weight of between 75 to 100 kg) are able to kill adult kudu or oryx bulls.

Once successful, a leopard here at Wabi drags its prey into the undergrowth (sometimes for more than a kilometre), where it is protected from vultures and humans. We have been privileged to witness cases where the prey has been disemboweled; the intestines were dug into a hole which had then been urinated upon. This seems to serve as a warning to other predators to better keep away from this prey, for as long as it serves as food for the leopard, which depending on the weather and heat, might last for six days. A leopard is not sickened by carrion, on the contrary, to a certain degree he even favours this as it is softer and smells „better“.

Once he releases the prey, he digs out the intestines and spreads them across the area. This seems to be a sign of his releasing his kill and giving his consent to other predators to take the leftovers. In areas frequented by lions or hyenas, leopards drag their prey into treetops where it cannot be reached.

From time to time, our guests have the opportunity to observe cats in the wild, but sightings are rare. In September 2014, one of our guests gave us a photo of a young leopard with familiy on the landing strip. On the 7th of October, the same leopard (weighing about 25 kg) killed a highly pregnant Letschwe cow of 75 kg (worth N$ 30000). He was not able to hide the cadaver in the bush because it was too heavy. After putting up a box-shaped trap with said Letschwe as bait, the cat was caught on the 8th of October. As we did not want to treat it as a “problem” animal and kill it, we contacted Africat Foundation and asked for help. They came the same day, sedated the cat and it was released again 4 km away from the Lodge, near the spring. We hope that it considers the shock of being trapped and sedated as a warning and is content with the game at the spring.

On the 12th of December 2014 another leopard kill in the riverbed, this time a female Springbuck. Since then we have been quite happy with our leopard population. Our large warthog and Impala population is vital in preventing leopards of becoming a problem again.

Museum

At Wabi you are given the opportunity of a close-up view of several African species. Our fireside lounge simultaneously functions as a museum where half and full mounts can be viewed. Our guests are specifically interested in the differences between leopard and the cheetah. During winter our fireside lounge is used for social get-togethers or sundowners and two or three times a year we take school children from Otjiwarongo on a day-tour excursion. After an extensive game drive, during which the conservation officer of the Waterberg Plateau Park elaborates on the wildlife and the flora, the youngsters can come eye to eye with lion’s teeth etc. The following barbeque and fun at the pool obviously form the highlight of the excursion!

The excursions are extremely important to us, as we need to teach the next generation to appreciate our wildlife. Man only protects what is dear to him or may be of financial advantage to him. Our future generation has to be taught both, in order for Namibians to protect our wildlife.

2012: Following the suggestions of several travel agencies, we have decided that, after the renovation of the fireplace lounge, we will only exhibit a few species and instead show a selection of Tinka oil paintings from Tanzania.

Hunting

Earlier we elaborated on the general reasons for hunting, as many southern African species have escaped extinction thanks to hunting visitors from all around the world. This may sound like a paradox but can be explained as follows:

40 years ago game was generally regarded as a threat to agricultural livestock farming and was seen as a welcome and free-of-charge meat producer by farmers of all ethnic groups. Farms in Namibia were adver tised on the market at a rating of “free of wildlife”. This mindset not only compromised the clearance of areas from antelopes or larger game, but also the elimination of all predators.

During those times this tendency could only be countered by awarding game a higher value – the trophy – by admitting and introducing hunter tourists, Animal welfare acts left Karakul sheep farms without profits, as the pelts could no longer be sold. Cattle farming ended up as a financial speculation as a result of overgrazing, extensive bush invasion in cer tain areas, overstocking, a decrease in the average rainfall, new Acts for abattoirs,  extensive transpor t costs etc. At the beginning of a year a farmer would not know where he would stand financially at the end of that year. So a second source of income was needed – trophy hunting. Trophies needed to be a specific age of maturity to ser ve as an attraction for the hunter. This implies that
agricultural farmers were now more willing to endure game and predators in their areas, as trophy hunting promised a wider application and thus provided an impor tant income.

Why has Wabi stopped trophy hunting?

For several reasons, in 2005 the management decided to stop trophy hunting at Wabi. The main reason was the fact that the unrealistic demands made by the hunting community with regard to record trophies, results in the genetic depletion of the better wildlife stock. Based on the motto “mine is bigger” – more often than not younger bulls were shot, as their horns are often longer than those of animals at an older and huntable age. As an older bull has quite frequently sustained several dents and marks in his horn and also uses his horn to mark his territory, these weapons (for a hog or horns for an antelope) look accordingly worn. This should rather inspire the hunters, as they bag a piece of history. To meet these expectations would also in the long run destroy the ‘superior quality’ of species – the largest are shot and only the smaller are left for breeding purposes.

Why professional hunters nowadays only try to meet the demands of their guests, remains an open question. Is it a craving for attention or the greed for money? Who knows? In most cases however, it is plain ignorance. This should be corrected quite urgently, specifically by means of proper training and advanced education, as professional hunters, more often than not, do not even realize the damage that they are causing. Hunting should assist game management, old animals should be selected. Game management on farms should not, as is currently the case, apply to the breeding of increasingly larger trophies for trophy hunting.

To round off: the incident which has made hunting absolutely unbearable to us is the fact that packs of up to 15 dogs are sent on a cat chase – obviously this is not applicable to all hunters, but it still happens frequently. This somehow reminds us of olden Roman times, when bread and game served as entertainment for the citizens. Just imagine what a proud animal such as a leopard, cheetah or lion must feel when being chased almost to death only to be – yes – ambushed by a person with a gun. The slack attitude of the local hunting association (NAPHA) is just as incomprehensible – the Act seems to contain a legal limbo. The same Act which for 30 years prohibited any type of driven hunt is now interpreted to suit one’s needs. What a pity! (Status 2008)

A moratorium of the Nature Conservancy of 2009 completely prohibited trophy hunting of leopard and cheetah because the allowed Cites export quota (250 animals per species per year) of both species had already been reached in 2008. One has to ask: why? Also in 2010, only 35 leopards were allowed to be shot as the hunted trophies of 2009 were still exported with the export quota of 2010.

The law still has not been changed but the following policy was implemented: The organiser of the hunt must draw an export tag (numbered identification tag for each skin / N$ 5000.-) together with the hunting permit (N$ 500.-). Both amounts are not reimbursed if the hunt is not successful. The tag is limited to the respective hunting concession and can only be redeemed there. It is doubtful whether this will stop hunting with dog packs. However, the Ministry of Environment absolutely  condemns dog pack hunting and today considers it as “illegal“. (Status 2011)

Garbage Collection / Recycling

In Namibia garbage collection only exists in cities and villages. In rural areas there are two possibilities to master civilisation’s fast growing garbage. First: the old method. Dig a hole in the ground, throw everything in there until it’s full and then burn it! If this no longer works, fill up the hole and dig a new one. Today, we still find bottles, wire and metal in the Quellkopf, where the very first farmhouse used to be, working themselves out of the ground again during 100 years of settlement. Second: at the moment, Wabi takes its garbage to the rubbish dump in Otjiwarongo. This is not a great solution but far better than dumping plastic bags, glass, old batteries etc. on the farm where they represent a danger for men and animals alike. In Otjiwarongo, some people collect bottles, for example, and return them for a small fee to the collection sites. We need to inform consumers better. They must realise that, if we do not change our attitude towards the environment,
we will, sooner or later, suffocate in our own garbage.

The fundamental problem is that people, who barely manage to provide for their everyday needs in order to survive, do not really care about the environment and pollution. This is only too understandable. Only a better education of the new generation will change their attitude in the long run (as happened in Europe in the last 30 years).