A synergy between the communities, tourism and government sectors

The San rock art in the Waterberg portrays a rich biological diversity of animals such as the red hartebeest, eland, elephant, rhinoceros, kudu and giraffe. Sadly from the 1850s the vast wildlife resources of the Waterberg were decimated by European hunters, to the point where very few species remained by the turn of the 20th Century.

However, the difficulties of sustaining a living from agriculture in the Waterberg set the scene for an unprecedented conversion of land to conservation and game farming over the last 25 years or more. Today practically all species that we know to have occurred here have been successfully reintroduced.

This transformation has been largely driven by the private wildlife and tourism sectors, but the state has also played a significant role through the creation and ongoing expansion of Marakele National Park. Vast areas of conservation land have been reassembled, including reserves such as Welgevonden, Lapalala Wilderness, Entabeni, Dinaka and the newly created Greater Mokolo Nature Reserve.

The Motse and Molekwa communities, recent recipients of land in the Waterberg through the land restitution process, have also expressed their intention to create large unfenced areas dedicated to conservation and eco-tourism centred on the Moepel Farms and other areas north of the Palala River.

Such foresight suggests that perhaps many of these significant conservation properties will one day become further consolidated into one of the largest private/public sector reserves in southern Africa. Indeed, the transformation of the Waterberg into a wildlife area built on a series of intact ecosystem blocks would fulfil the vision of General Jan Smuts who advocated the creation of a massive national park stretching from the Palala River in the south to the Mogalakwena River in the northeast and the Limpopo River in the west.

It is no accident that renowned conservationists such as Eugene Marais, Clive Walker, Dale Parker, Paul von Vlissingen and Anna Mertz all made their homes in the Waterberg.