At the beginning of the 1990s the land bordering the Fish River Canyon was overgrazed and barren. At the tail end of years of severe drought farmers were putting their farms up for sale, seeking greener pastures.
A group of Namibian businessmen sharing strong conservation ethics discovered the potential of a piece of land bordering the eastern section of the Fish River Canyon, that was previously owned by several different farmers. When the businessmen bought this overgrazed farm with the intention to develop tourism activities and create a conservation area, it was evident that intensive farming practices were not sustainable in the long run. Ecotourism was the only sustainable form of land use with the potential to balance the scales and restore the wildlife and vegetation, while nurturing the land. It would ultimately fund a larger conservation area.
The vision matured over the subsequent years. Adjoining farms were acquired and the concept of a large protected area was developed. Gondwana Canyon Park expanded to an enormous area of 1160 square kilometres (116,000 hectares).
Research was carried out to establish which animals occurred in the area historically, after which red hartebeest, wildebeest, plains zebra and giraffe were gradually reintroduced. A scientifically-sound game management programme resulted in increasing the number of diverse species and restoring nature’s original state as far as possible. It was, and still is, monitored by qualified gamekeepers and rangers.
All fences inside Gondwana Canyon Park have been removed. Since migration is a vital survival mechanism of game animals in arid regions, a series of meetings with landowners and trustees, including the neighbouring Ai-Ais/Fish River Canyon National Park, was initiated to establish an expanded, jointly managed Fish River Canyon Complex.
Two other nature reserves belonging to Gondwana Collection are managed according to the same concept: Gondwana Kalahari Park (98 km²) northeast of Mariental and Gondwana Namib Park (127 km²) north of Sesriem/Sossusvlei. Another one of our nature parks is the Gondwana Sperrgebiet Rand Park (510 km²) of our marketing partner Klein-Aus Vista in the far south of Namibia, near Aus.
In 2019, Gondwana took over Palmwag Lodge & Camp and with it the management of the Palmwag Concession Area, a vast nature reserve that covers 5,500 km². The Palmwag Concession consists of the Torra, Anabeb and Sesfontein conservancies and borders the Skeleton Coast Park. With over 100 lions, cheetahs, leopards and brown and spotted hyenas, Palmwag’s predator population is the largest outside Etosha National Park. Birdlife is prolific and diverse, and most of Namibia’s endemic species are found there. The Palmwag Concession is home to a healthy population of the desert-adapted elephant and black rhino.