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28 October 2022
KOLMANSKOP – It was time to open up Namibia’s hidden treasures to its entire people, hence, the opening of the Sperrgebiet National Park, over the weekend.
Another of Namibia’s hidden and forbidden treasures has been opened with the proclamation of the Sperrgebiet National Park (SNP) in the Karas Region.
Namibians will now have the opportunity and the right to visit mining towns of yesterday such as Pomona, Bogenfels, Kolmanskop, Elizabeth Bay, Hottentots Bay and Baker’s Bay. More than half of Namibia’s population surely has not heard of these mining towns, of a century ago.
However, names such as Elizabeth Bay and Kolmanskop should sound familiar to many, as Namdeb has been mining at Elizabeth Bay over the past years, while Kolmanskop is known to many as a ghost town, which one sees on the way to Lüderitz.
Other breathtaking treasures that can be found in the previously prohibited area are different islands such as Possession, Ichaboe, Sinclair, Plum Pudding, Pomona and Albatros.
About 1 050 plant species are found in the Sperrgebiet, which is 25 percent of the entire flora of Namibia. Fifty-six vegetation types have been identified, 35 coastal and marine bird species, 60 wetland bird species and 120 terrestrial bird species.
Other attractions are the 80 terrestrial and 38 marine mammal species, including the 600 000 Cape fur seals, representing 50 percent of the world’s seal population.
Other wildlife includes 100 reptile species and 16 frog species.
All these wonderful sceneries were out of reach during the colonial era, as the masters wanted to protect the rich diamond fields that were found in the area that time.
At the time, what was viewed, as a discriminatory practice seems to have become a blessing in disguise, as the Sperrgebiet area was able to retain large areas unharmed by inappropriate land use and activities for over a century.
Although the whole area was forbidden for the larger public, only a small portion was used for diamond mining, while the rest of the 26 000 square kilometres remained untouched and strictly guarded. The result is the preservation of pristine environmental conditions.
The Sperrgebiet National Park protects 26 000 square kilometres of Succulent Karoo, the Namib Desert and Savannah vegetation.
The SNP is the second largest protected area in the country after the Namib-Naukluft Park and adds another three percent to Namibia’s current protected area coverage, which now measures 17 percent of Namibia’s land surface.
The area, viewed as one of the two world desert biodiversity hotspots, is expected in the long term to attract local and international tourists, generating opportunities for spin-off enterprises, job-creation and income for neighbouring towns and communities, benefiting the region and adding to the country’s tourism industry.
The Sperrgebiet forms part of the Greater Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA) with South Africa and connects the TFCA to Angola through the Namibian coastal parks and it is an added value to the park.
Irene Hoaes, Financial Gazette Zimbabwe