Space. Vast, open, endless. Namibia is known for this quality; however, it is not something to be taken lightly. Space needs protection and even a purpose. Decades ago, Albi Brückner recognized this and began buying livestock farms in the Namib Desert, adding a few at a time and convincing others to join him. Today this collection of private farms, which have all been rehabilitated and turned back to nature, is dedicated to sustainable conservation and covers 172,000 hectares (425,500 acres).
Known collectively as the NamibRand Nature Reserve, it is one of the largest private nature reserves in the world. For his pioneering spirit and dedicated vision towards conservation, Albi Brückner is a true Namibian Conservation Hero.
Removing farm fences to allow for the seasonal migration of game, the NamibRand Nature Reserve protects a rich diversity of desert habitats. From dunes to desert plains sprinkled liberally with fairy circles; to mountains and inselbergs, the area attracts cheetah, oryxk, springbok, hartebeest, ostrich, zebra and leopard, as well as many smaller desert denizens such as the endemic golden mole, geckos, snakes, beetles and an abundant variety of birds, including Namibia’s only true endemic, the dune lark.
To ensure the long-term sustainability of the reserve, tourism concessionaires and exclusive safaris are offered on sections of NamibRand. Each collects a park fee from guests on behalf of the Reserve and this revenue is used to cover operating expenses, conservation expenses such as game re-introduction and research expenses such as satellite monitoring collars for wildlife. The Namib Desert Environmental Education Trust (NaDEET), an exceptional centre for sustainable development and education, also has its home on NamibRand.
The NamibRand Nature Reserve offers a plethora of tourism experiences. Those seeking adventure can soar over the beautiful landscapes in a hot air balloon, or get a closer look at the wildlife and geology by taking a hike with Tok Tokkie Trails and spending a night at the NamibRand Family Hideout. If you prefer to relax in five-star luxury while soaking in your surroundings, the Wolwedans Collection and Sossusvlei Desert Lodge offer seclusion at its finest! And finally, if you are looking for a rewarding experience working to ensure the sustainability of the wildlife, the N/a'ankuse Foundation offers volunteer experiences assisting the Reserve in re-introducing cheetah and leopard in the area.
Albi Brückner purchased his first farm in the Namib Desert in 1984, and though much has changed, what is most striking is how much has remained the same – the view of vast, open, endless space. For the protection of the desert and the inspiration we draw of it, we owe a debt of gratitude to the partners in NamibRand Nature Reserve and to its visionary founder, Albi Brückner, our Conservation Hero.