Restoring balance, Making amends
The restoration of local wildlife to Erindi Game Reserve is a real-life success story. Creatures that were once hunted and persecuted on this land now enjoy a safe haven – where they are fully protected – and man has become a welcome guest in their natural, rightful environment.
Highly endangered species have been translocated, and Erindi now boasts possibly the largest protected population of Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) in Namibia.
During the early 19th century, the African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) was recorded to be widespread in the area, but the last protected pack disappeared from Etosha in 1970. Then Erindi embarked on a mammoth task to reintroduce this highly endangered carnivore back into the region, and today the painted dogs of Africa roam free and protected within the reserve.
Lions (Panthera leo) that were targeted as problem animals outside of protected areas were captured by the Erindi team and given a safe home within the reserve.
A natural population of the rare brown hyena (Hyeana brunnea) resides in the area and together with good numbers of cheetah (Acinonyx jubatis) and leopard (Panthera pardus) gives Erindi a predator diversity that matches few other wildlife destinations.
Leopard is said to be the most sought after and the most persecuted big cat on the planet. Erindi has embarked on a conservation research project to aid in the better understanding of this phenomenal creature to help reduce human/predator conflict and find methods to ensure that man and leopard benefit each other long-term – and that other creatures reap the rewards of the relationship.
Through a fixed-point photography project, one can see that the patient and painstaking vegetation rejuvenation projects introduced in many areas in the reserve are starting to bear fruit, and indicate a return to their original state.
Surveys and veld condition assessments are used to ensure that the plants of Erindi do not exert excess pressure from the wildlife – and the careful ecological balance between vegetation, herbivores and predators has been restored. Careful stocking of animals ensures that the number and diversity of species leads to sustainable land utilization and benefits for all people in the area.
In 2007 Natasha Britz started the Global Leopard Project, to internationalise the plight of the Leopard through communication and research. Through co-operation, understanding of the Leopard is possible on a global scale. This organisation is concerned with the protection of all leopards of the world with a focus on the African leopard.
If we all become aware of the difficult situation that is facing the future of many Leopards worldwide, then we can all play a role together to ensure that the relationship between people and predator remains positive thus contributing to the Leopards survival as the earth undergoes constant changes.