Erindi Private Game Reserve is a protected reserve in Namibia, located southeast of Omaruru. It is a private game reserve located on a central plateau in Namibia, just three hours north of Windhoek. The reserve rests in between the towns of Otjiwarongo, Omaruru and Okahandja. The land on which Erindi was founded, has been reclaimed as part of a massive rehabilitation and conservation venture. The owners, Chris and Gert Joubert, originally bought the 70 719 hectares of land with the intention of going into cattle farming. It was soon realized that farming cattle is an extremely costly practice, and they abandoned the idea in favor of a private game reserve. The aim was to restore endemic species to the area, with the hope that they would once again thrive there.
Since 1998, careful management of Erindi Private Game Reserve has ensured the recovery of the ecological balance between vegetation, herbivores, and predators, so that the numbers and diversity of species lead to sustainable land utilization and socio-economic benefits for all in the area. The restoration of the local wildlife to Erindi Private Game Reserve has been particularly commendable. Species that were once persecuted by neighboring farms and villages have a safe haven here; where they are fully protected, rehabilitated, and released back into the wilderness.
“Erindi” is a word taken from the local Herero language, meaning “place of water”.
European traders and missionaries were the first recorded people who travelled through the area of Namibia that now contains Erindi, probably from Walvis Bay northwards in the direction of Ovamboland in the mid-1800s. But evidence shows that other people used to inhabit this land such as the indigenous Herero and San tribes. There are signs of seasonal Herero farmers having moved through the area, as well as significant San rock paintings and engravings on “Big Bushman” Mountain. In 1986, the Joubert brothers bought the land from the Imperial Cold Storage and Supply Company (ICS). They were determined to turn it into a model cattle farm, so they invested money, time and energy into the project. By the early 1990s, the brothers realized that to increase overall profitability of the farm, they would need to gradually start stocking the farm with game. Natural food resources was a major concern, so to avoid competition with the cattle, they introduced plains game. They fenced 3 000 hectares and put 55 giraffe on it in 1992. This was a noticeably successful venture, so more game such as the Blue Wildebeest and African Elephant were brought in from Etosha National Park. The farm was already home to wild animals like the Gemsbok, Kudu, Leopard, Cheetah, Honey-Badger, Baboon and many others.
However, to concentrate fully on conservation and turn Erindi into a ecotourism destination, the owners realized that the land would have to be briefly utilized for hunting purposes. A four-year period as a trophy hunting outfitter helped to raise the much-needed funds to continue their conservation dreams. Cattle farming had been completely phased out, and the reserve had been fitted with all the game management requirements. By 2008, Old Traders Lodge was erected and open for visitors. Since then, Camp Elephant was constructed, and several successful conservation programmes run concurrently.
Erindi Private Game Reserve is situated on a central plateau in the highlands of Namibia. The terrain is a combination of soils eroded from neighboring mountains. In the west of the reserve, the Erongo Mountains have been linked to the Post-Karoo Complex. The main geology of the area is granite, basalt, and volcanic rocks. While to the east, the Omataku Mountains are inselbergs, which rise sporadically throughout the plains. These comprise of Etjo sandstone and magmatic rock. This was formed millions of years ago. Erindi Private Game Reserve shows characteristics of both mountain ranges. Two perennial rivers flow through the reserve. In the south, the Slang River flows when there is a heavy rainfall, and just outside the northern boundary, is the Otjimakuru River.
Namibia has extreme temperatures that fluctuate greatly between day and night. In summer the minimum summer temperature recorded is 17 °C and the maximum 43 °C. In winter temperatures range between 1 °C at night and 28 °C during the day.
Erindi Private Game Reserve has vegetation ranging from savannah plains to thorny bushveld and rocky mountains. It is classified as an arid to semi-arid category. Riverines that flow after heavy rainfall weave in and around the reserve, providing relief to large trees. The plant life is beautiful, and unique species manage to flourish in the harsh conditions. Endemic plants include the Phantom tree; tall succulent Kobas, and numerous Acacia species. There are over 72 tree species, 75 grass species and an unknown number of flower species in Erindi Private Game Reserve. Scientists have recorded as many of the species as possible, but this research is ongoing.
The region where Erindi was founded, had many naturally occurring species in fairly large numbers. After cattle farming was phased out, the owners decided to reintroduce more endemic species to the region and give the existing plains game species a chance to thrive. Erindi Private Game Reserve is home to many successful conservation projects.
The large carnivores that can be found in the reserve include the Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatis), Leopard (Panthera pardus), Lion (Panthera leo), Brown Hyena (Hyaena brunnea), Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta), and African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus).
Medium-sized carnivores include the Serval (Leptilaurus serval) Caracal (Caracal caracal), African Wild Cat (Felis silvestris), Bat-Eared Fox (Otocyon megalotis), Black-Backed Jackal (Canis mesomelis), Cape Fox (Vulpes chama), Ground Pangolin (Manis teminckii), Aardvark (Orycteropus afer), Aardwolf (Proteles cristatus), and Honey-Badger (Mellivora capensis).
Small carnivores include the Striped Polecat (Ictonyx striatus), the Small-Spotted Genet (Genetta genetta), Yellow Mongoose (Cynictis penicillata), Kaokoland Slender Mongoose (Galerella flavescens), Banded Mongoose (Mungos mungo), and Meerkat (Suricata suricatta).
In Namibia, leopards are considered ‘problem animals’ since farmers perceive them as a threat to livestock. As a result, these creatures are now considered elusive as they have had to adapt to a hostile environment, in which heavy persecution is rife. Only trained professionals will be successful in locating them. The Global Leopard Project is a registered foundation established in Erindi Private Game Reserve in 2007, with research, communication, and conservation as the core strategy. The data collected from these wild leopards is shared widely to assist in the sustainable use of the species by other researchers, farmers, hunters, and any other interested parties. Guests at Erindi can donate money towards the foundation by participating in the specialized Leopard Project Drive, Leopard Project Presentation and Leopard Project Walk. These funds go directly towards the Global Leopard Project and other conservation projects at Erindi.
The large herbivores on Erindi include the African Elephant, Hippopotamus, Southern Giraffe, and Eland.
Medium-sized herbivores include the Hartmann’s Zebra, Plains Zebra, Waterbuck, Springbuck, Common Impala, Greater Kudu, Blesbuck, Black Wildebeest, Blue Wildebeest, Red Hartebeest, and Gemsbok.
Small herbivores can be found in a range of territories across Erindi Private Game Reserve. Species like the Common Duiker, Steenbuck, Klipspringer, Damara Dik-Dik, Rock Hyrax and Scrub Hare.
The Common Warthog is the only known omnivore on Erindi.
Erindi is home to over 300 endemic bird species.
On Erindi Private Game Reserve, evidence suggests that ancient tribes once inhabited the region, with more than 100 individually engraved animal depictions discovered on Erindi’s one particular rock site. The National Museum’s Rock Art Department of South Africa surveyed the area and confirmed that the rock art on Erindi’s “Big Bushman” Mountain is fine-lined San engravings. The San are hunter-gatherer people, indigenous to southern Africa. They belong to the Khoisan group that speak the “click” languages. Researchers' interpretation of the San people is that their beliefs and rituals are very much a part of their art. Some of the animal engravings include; giraffe, elephant, eland, hyena, ostrich, kudu, reptiles, buffalo and other plains game. According to the National Museum’s Rock Art Department, the rock depictions on Erindi are over 700 years old. San rock paintings are usually found in caves and on large boulders, and in many cases, these caves were used as shelters. San rock engravings are cut onto the rock surface and usually found in rocky outcrops and riverbeds. Today, there are still San families living on the reserve, but since they are a nomadic tribe, they tend to disappear from time to time. To see and learn about San mythology and their art, Erindi offers a Bushman Art Walk, Art Valley Climb, and San Village Trip.