I visited Namibia with my wife many years ago, in fact it was a country on the verge on independence at the time.As we got close to the border we would pick up Cuban and Angolan radio chatter on our CB radios. Ours was a walking tour and as we look at the plight of the Rhino today this story is appropriate.
After landing at Windhoek we flew through to Palmwag where we met our Desert Adventure Safari’s guide Jurgen and Garth Owen Smith. Garth was working with the Endangered Wildlife Trust pioneering a Rhino and Elephant guarding scheme using ex poachers, the rhino and elephant populations had been decimated during the conflict and something had to be done.
Garth had guards all across Damaraland and the Koakoveld, they were armed and had an elevated status in their communities, people shared information with them and the communities were conscious of the value of the animals in terms of being a major tourist attraction. In a nutshell the whole community was mobilised to look after the animals and it worked.
We camped where we stopped and walked most of the day followed by the Safari vehicles, the highlight of the trip from a social perspective was a night spent in a Himba village at Purros where we observed a “coming of age ceremony” and partied with the Himba, the next day two famous National Geographic Filmmakers flew in and entertained all as they took most of the village for flips in their micro lights.
The animal highlights were our numerous encounters with the elusive desert Elephants and Black Rhino,hunted to the point of extinction they were canny and not easy to find ,however once Garth was satisfied with our “bush skills” all was revealed and we had numerous sightings. Garth was an amazing man with real passion for what he did and he really made a difference, it was a pleasure to have met him and have walked with him.