In a changing world, the face of conservation is also changing. Unlimited spaces for wildlife to roam freely are disappearing, and the importance of fenced reserves where nature can be protected is increasing.
Unfortunately, many reserves are too small for natural ecological processes to play out, and interventions by managers are needed to replicate the balance that vast unfenced areas once provided.
This highlights the importance of larger reserves in the conservation landscape. !Khamab was established first and foremost as a conservation area, where its relatively large size can make a meaningful contribution to the conservation of the Eastern Kalahari.
With the conservation of the Eastern Kalahari landscape, its inhabitants and the ecological processes that drive the system as the only objective, the vision, mission, and key objectives of !Khamab Kalahari Reserve were developed.
!Khamab Vision, Mission and Objectives
The vision for !Khamab is to create a game reserve that:
• Comprises unspoilt landscapes and habitats that visually typify the Kalahari Bushveld.
• Sustains the full spectrum of African wild herbivores and carnivores that naturally occurred in such landscapes/habitats in the past.
• Enables the ecological processes of the system to function with as little management intervention as possible.
In realising this vision, !Khamab’s mission is to establish a conservation icon that is held in high esteem both nationally and internationally for its positive contribution to wildlife conservation and the community at large.
!Khamab’s mission will be accomplished through the achievement of the following key objectives:
• Re-establish and sustain viable populations of the full spectrum of wild herbivore and predator species that occurred naturally in the Kalahari Bushveld in the past by undertaking a scientifically based reintroduction program and thereafter applying sound conservation practices
• Attain a high level of success in the conservation of endangered species such as black rhino, cheetah, wild dog, and birds of prey by conducting comprehensive research programs and state of the art conservation management
• Eliminate those plant and animal species that are deemed to be alien to this bioregion or for other reasons ethically unacceptable including domestic livestock
• Rehabilitate the Kalahari Bushveld landscape to resemble its former natural state by removing all signs of the visually unappealing structures of past farming and other land use and land development practices
• Restore/simulate the natural ecological processes (e.g., fire frequency, surface water distribution, migration, herbivory, and predation) and vegetation pattern/composition of the Kalahari Bushveld that have been disrupted/depleted/distorted by past farming practices.
As captured in the vision of the reserve, !Khamab wants to make a positive contribution to the conservation of wildlife and ecological processes, and hence the commitment to contribute to conservation at all levels. This includes the conservation of endangered species like wild dog (Lycaon pictus), cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) and black rhino (Diceros bicornis), and threatened or protected species like lion (Panthera leo) and elephant (Loxodonta africana), who are all historical inhabitants of the Kalahari.
In this regard !Khamab participate and partners with the following conservation groups:
One of the biggest threats to ecological conservation across the world is the increased threat of wildlife crime, which includes the trafficking of wildlife and animal parts and products. The high black-market value of many wildlife parts has resulted in the involvement of crime syndicates, not unlike the illegal drugs and arms trade. The scourge of poaching, especially for rhino horns, is threatening the population of many game reserves across South Africa.
The impact of rhino poaching stretches further than just the direct loss of the life of the rhino that was killed. It also threatens the conservation of other species as reserves are forced to divert funding that would otherwise have been used for ecological management and species conservation, to establish and maintain effective anti-poaching operations.
!Khamab is not immune from this. It faces the same risks as any other game reserve in South Africa. An effective anti-poaching operation has become a necessity, despite the massive pressure it adds to the budget of most reserves.
!Khamab continually tries to improve the effectiveness of its anti-poaching efforts by increasing the size of the anti-poaching team and improving their equipment. We also use technology to help detect intruders on the reserve. Unfortunately, this is costly and we are grateful for the assistance we receive from the various sources who contribute towards the wildlife security efforts of the reserve.
Part of our mission is to make a positive contribution to wildlife conservation and the community at large. One way of achieving this is to contribute to the enhancement of scientific knowledge of wildlife management and ecological systems, with a focus on the Kalahari ecosystem and how it fits into the larger ecological landscape.
Research on !Khamab is also specifically orientated to increase our knowledge and provide a basis for informed management and conservation decisions on the reserve. !Khamab is committed to increasing the ecological research output on the reserve. We encourage sensible, planned research projects, especially those that will contribute to our knowledge of the Kalahari and its fauna and flora. The research should also provide scientifically based management support to changes happening on a global scale.
The following research projects provide insight into some aspects of the Kalahari and how selected animal species fit into the Kalahari system when compared to more mesic environments.