The Kulala Wilderness Reserve (KWR) is a conservation story of which Wilderness Safaris is very proud. In opening the first camp in 1996, the company initially rehabilitated 9 000 hectares of degraded small-stock farm land to an area where endemic fauna and flora could thrive once again. The landscape here is very sensitive to disturbance and is why responsible low-impact conservation tourism has gone a long way in aiding its preservation.Today, the KWR encompasses 27 000 hectares and is, after years of dedicated and focused biodiversity conservation, home to a range of fascinating arid-adapted and specialised wildlife once again.
KWR is situated in the Pro-Namib and adjoins the Namib Sand Sea – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Found on the immediate eastern border of the Namib-Naukluft Park (NNP), the KWR is part of the Greater Sossusvlei-Namib Landscape (GSNL), a collaborative conservation initiative, which today encompasses freehold land predominantly used for low-impact tourism. This was not always the case as past land use in this area was mainly small-stock farming partitioned into camps by thousands of kilometres of fencing. The impact of small-stock farming on this sensitive area of the Pro-Namib was severe – overgrazing, soil erosion, depletion of wildlife and persecution of predators.
Since Wilderness Safaris purchased KWR, it has undertaken a comprehensive programme to remove internal fencing, certain boundary fences and livestock, in order to bring the ecosystem back into sync. The fences dividing the KWR with other reserves today in the GSNL were removed in part or completely, thereby allowing for the natural movement of wildlife to return. While the fence between KWR and the adjacent NNP is still largely intact, there are gaps brought by riverbeds and washes that wildlife can also still move through. The opening of corridors and/or complete removal of fences in the GSNL area over the past years is a major conservation achievement.
The significant reduction of fences has played an important role in ensuring that the wildlife of the area would not be restricted. The mammal cohort of this ecosystem, in particular, follows a mostly nomadic existence, moving across plains and dunes, and to/from the Namib Escarpment, in response to erratic rains in order to find food.
KWR is part of a sweeping, natural landscape. Seas of sand, ancient riverbeds, vast plains, fossilised trees and some of the largest dunes on earth meet in one of the oldest deserts in the planet, the Namib. The ephemeral Aub and Tsauchab rivers also partly flow through the KWR. The reserve thus also aids in the protection of these two key watercourses that run into the NNP and the Namib Sand Sea, terminating at Sossusvlei.
The Kulala rehabilitation project, funded by sustainable conservation tourism over the last 24 years, has played a great part in aiding the restoration of the fragile Greater Sossusvlei-Namib Landscape to a more intact ecosystem for desert wildlife. Kulala’s restorative journey has proved that the area holds an incredible wealth of ancient natural history and information of the Pro-Namib, which will now continue to be preserved.
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