Celebrating a century of the wild horses
This year marks the 100‐year anniversary of the wild horses of the Namib, as they are often called. Their origins date back to the turbulent time of WWI when horses were abandoned to the desert extremes.
Free of constraint by owners, the wild horses followed the green grazing and water sources, eventually making their way to the Garub waterhole, established as a watering point for the steam trains and the only permanent source of water in the area.
The wild horses have become a major tourist attraction in southern Namibia and a highlight of travellers’ itineraries en route to Lüderitz and surrounds or from the canyon to the Sossusvlei area. They have also become a popular marketing tool for the country, epitomising the rugged, wild and natural beauty of Namibia.
In 2012, the Namibia Wild Horses Foundation was established for ongoing research and to regularly monitor the horses, to facilitate their well being.
The foundation comprises members from the tourism, veterinary and environmental management and research sectors. It marshals funding to assist in covering their basic costs and to provide a fund, should the need arise, for times when the horses require mineral supplements during the drought years, which periodically ravage the country. Signs are that extreme conditions may be fast approaching and the Foundation has started an initiative to raise funds by appealing for donations from businesses and members of the public
The Namibia Wild Horses Foundation is grateful to donors who have contributed to this fund. Recently the Lüderitz 4×4 Club, generously donated N$50,000 to Foundation for the preservation of the Namib horses.
Meanwhile, it is believed that the horses from the Kubub stud farm, 35km from Garub, formed the core of the wild horse population, linking up with horses that remained near the Union base after it was bombed by retreating Germans forces in 1915.
The well bred horses found themselves in an unlikely home; the harsh conditions of the Namib Desert offering a challenging existence for the toughest of creatures. Yet, the horses adapted over time to the harsh environment, forming family groups, recalling their natural ways and regaining their freedom as wild animals.
The Sperrgebiet the restricted diamond mining territory where they lived provided a certain amount of protection over the years. The area was incorporated into the Namib Naukluft Park in 1986.
Ten generations of horses later, there have been years of severe drought and periods of abundance. The drought years have limited the horse numbers, keeping the population at around 200 horses (presently 170), and ensuring that it does not exceed the carrying capacity of the land.