Ongava Game Reserve in Namibia is home to some of the rarest wild animals on the planet, and at Ongava Research Centre it is their mission to protect them. With many 1000s of animals to study (including almost 100 different mammal species plus a diverse range of birds and reptiles), Ongava also provides the perfect ‘living laboratory’ for some serious wildlife research.
These are the opening sentences in the new Ongava Species Checklist [PDF, 2MB].
“Thanks to your support Ongava is privileged to play a role in the conservation of endangered species – and the big hairy charismatic species have certainly hogged the headlines … we’ve all heard of the Big Five! So it’s time we have a chat about The Average Five,” says Rob Moffett, Marketing Director at Ongava Game Reserve.
During the 1990’s Namibia reinforced its commitment to human-centric conservation policies, policies that are fit for the future of modern Africa. The graph below illustrates the total Namibia wildlife population, with historical estimates based on carrying capacity. Conservation through market-based policies has resulted in one of the world’s greatest wildlife recoveries.
“The beauty of birds is they are unbounded by human boundaries. However, humans have impacted them in many other ways. The Bateleur eagle is estimated to have lost over 75% of its natural range. So for a pair to select Ongava as their nesting site this season is for us a noteworthy conservation success,” says Rob.
Putative reasons for declines vary but include poisoned baits, pesticides, trapping for international trade, nest disturbance from spreading human settlements, and increased intensification and degradation of agricultural land. The major cause of the decline seems to be almost entirely poisoning by a few large-scale commercial farmers, but poisoning is also a problem in tribal small-stock farming communities.
“And that ends our chat on the Average Five!” concludes Rob.
Header image credit: Leon Emanual. Bateleur is French for “Street Performer”.