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I Dream Africa

I Dream Africa

Namib Wild Horses


Wild Horses of the Namib Desert

It is not known how long the Namib Desert Feral Horses have lived on an area covering approximately 350 square kilometers in the Namib Desert, but locals speculate they have been there since 'German times'. As there are no written records about their provenance their origins remain unclear, but there are, of course, quite a few theories.

One plausible theory relates to the German occupation of South West Africa when a large number of horses were needed for the cavalry and an eccentric German nobleman, Baron Hans-Heinrich von Wolf, set up a horse breeding station at his outlandish castle, Duwisib, on the edge of the desert. Once the Baron went off to the First World War in Europe nobody looked after the stable of more than 300 horses and after his death herds of them ran wild, roaming the veld around Duwisib until 1950. It is possible that some of them wandered the 150 kilometers south westwards to the water at Garub.

It is likely, too, that some of the feral horses originated from the Schutztruppe mounts, as well as from those belonging to a South African Expeditionary Force that took control of the Lüderitz- Keetmanshoop line during the First World War. Another theory is that a ship carrying thoroughbreds from Europe to Australia that ran aground near the mouth of the Orange River. The strongest horses could have reached the shore and found their way to the Garub plains.

Under Namibia's South African occupation the Sperrgebiet (restricted diamond area) fell under the control of CDM, a subsidiary of Anglo American. Surprisingly the pumping station was maintained in good order by CDM, apparently aware of the existence of the horses. Through the 1970's to the 1980's, a CDM security officer took an active interest in the horses and made sure they always had water. He even obtained funds from his company to install modern water tanks at Garub.

In 1986 CDM handed over the northern part of the Sperrgebiet to the Directorate of Nature Conservation, so the authorities responsible for the Namib-Naukluft Park have now taken over the care of the horses.

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