19.09.2007 100 Years Etosha National Park
Namibia’s “Great White Place” Celebrates its Anniversary
Frankfurt, September 2007. One of the largest, oldest and most renowned national parks in the world celebrates its birthday: On the 22nd March, the Etosha National Park in Namibia’s north celebrated its 100th anniversary. Featuring 114 different mammals, 380 bird species, more than110 reptile species and 16 different vegetation zones, Etosha belongs to the most diverse and greatest nature parks in Africa. The national park stretches for more than 350 kilometres from east to west and it encompasses an area of more than 22 000 km². The animals are mostly found in the Etosha Pan - the „great white place” as it is called in the Ovambo language. The park was established in 1907, with the aim to stop uncontrolled hunting in the country. Today, Etosha is one of Namibia’s most important tourism magnets. The number of visitors has increased from 36 246 in 1990 to more than 165 000 in the last year.
„Namibia is one of the few countries in the world able to celebrate 100 years of conservation achievements. Our parks have enjoyed protection of biodiversity since before most of our grandparents were born. This has not only contributed to safeguarding precious areas and resources for the Namibian people, but is of international significance”, states Willem Konjore, Minister for Environment and Tourism (MET) in Namibia.
The MET in cooperation with Namibia Wildlife Resorts, the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) and Team Namibia initiated several events to celebrate the anniversary. For this occasion a special Etosha Anniversary Logo was created, showing an oryx antelope, Namibia’s heraldic animal. The celebrations started on 22nd March with a small function, at which NamPost launched a Centenary stamp series. The 100th anniversary gala event will take place on the 28th September 2007 in Namutoni. In the course of the year, various other celebrations were planned, among them an Etosha Research Symposium in June, a full moon hiking tour through the Etosha Pan as well as a Film Festival featuring some of the best films made about Etosha.
Measures are in progress to improve the park’s infrastructure and offer further comfort to visitors. 10.5 Million N$ (about 1.09 Million EUR) will be invested in building fences, toilets, guiding signs and themed information centres in the three Etosha camps. Furthermore, new hiking trails and guided game drives by night have been introduced by NWR. Plans to extend the opening hours of the national park (one hour before and after sunset) will be implemented in near future. This will give visitors the chance to photograph wildlife under perfect light conditions. The opening of a new gate at Narawandu on Etosha`s northern border is currently in discussion.
The Etosha National Park offers ideal conditions for close up watching of lions, herds of elephants, zebras, antelopes, giraffes and other wild animals. Some endangered species could be preserved through successful conservation measures over the last decades: The elephant population in the region was very small at the turn of the century; black rhinos were almost extinct and lions were hardly seen in the region. Today, around 2400 elephants made the Etosha Park their home; its population of black rhinos is one of the biggest worldwide. White rhinos were also reintroduced in the park in 1995 and today one can find the largest number of lions in Southern Africa in the Etosha region. The Etosha National Park is open to visitors all year round. Individual game drives in own vehicles are possible, it is however recommended to experience Namibia’s wildlife with an experienced guide to increase the chance of perfect game viewing. Most of the animals gather near the saltpan, where waterholes are filled up even in dry season. Guests can overnight in the camps Okaukuejo, Halali, and Namutoni. Here, at one of the lit up waterholes, game viewing from secure distance, is the ultimate highlight.
Namibia Tourism Board
Bureau Continental Europe
D-60313 Frankfurt / M
Tel. 0049 - (0)69 – 13 37 36 0
Fax 0049 - (0)69 – 13 37 36 15