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Leopard? Cheetah? African Wild Dog? Aardwolf? Dog? The answers of our Facebook fans to the question which animal left the tracks to be seen on the photo were quite higgledy-piggledy. Only two of the 21 fans were completely right with their bet...
Exciting discovery along the farm path between Waterberg Andersson Camp and Waterberg Wilderness Lodge, which is quite far up in the valley of the private Waterberg Wilderness nature reserve: the trail of an animal, clearly visible in the wet sand.
Chris and Mathilde Stuart explain in their book "Tracks & Signs" how you can identify animals by their tracks: If it is a paw, check first whether it is with or without claws. Big cats can be excluded in our case, because they retract their claws while running, as some of our Facebook fans correctly mentioned. The next criteria are size and shape. On the basis of Stuart’s scheme it is clear: This was a fully grown hyena.
All that remains is the question: Which of the three species? The striped hyena does not occur in Southern Africa. The spotted hyena can be excluded because the Waterberg is surrounded by farms. Farmers see it as a threat to their livestock and kill it or chase it away. Therefore in our case it is most probably a brown hyena. Unlike the spotted hyena it is solitary and it is also considered much shyer. Based on the tracks that we find now and then, we assume that three to five brown hyenas live in our area. And no: Although their tracks might look frightening, they do not pose a threat to humans.
At the Waterberg, there are many more species of birds recorded than previously known and repeatedly stated in guidebooks. This was disclosed by experts in a talk at the Waterberg Valley Lodge about the birdlife of the area. Up to then the Waterberg was known already for over 200 different birds...
The weekend excursion of the Namibia Scientific Society to Waterberg Wilderness in mid-February brought a surprise even for the bird experts. "More than 300 species of birds have been sighted in this area and not more than 200, as previously thought," said the Chairperson of the Namibia Bird Club, Gudrun Middendorff, and her partner Neil Thomson in their presentation for the 25 participants of the excursion. "We were amazed when we saw the bird lists which were compiled through the Southern African Bird Atlas Project for the relevant quadrants."
The causes of the extraordinary diversity of birdlife are known, however: In addition to the abundance of water because of the springs, there are the many different habitats such as mountain plateau, cliff, slope, valley and plain, as well as the corresponding diversity of plants (about 500 species).
For the typical sound of the bird world of the Waterberg there are above all two birds responsible, that are hard to see, but everywhere to hear: The Grey-backed bleating Warbler and the Rockrunner, which is occurring only in Namibia. The species that make the birdman's heart beat faster include Bradfield’s Hornbill, Rüppell's Parrot and Senegal Coucal.
The bird life of the Waterberg also has two world records to offer: The ostrich as the world's largest bird and the Kori Bustard as the largest bird that can fly.
In our information brochure we have listed 43 typical bird species with English and German names, which can be seen here. Every visitor of our private nature reserve Waterberg Wilderness will receive a copy upon arrival at the reception and can use it for "ticking off".
Paying for a booking at Waterberg Wilderness has become even easier – and, above all, safer. The online payment system Virtual Card Service (VCS) of the international group Direct Pay Online (DPO) creates a secure connection to our partner bank First National Bank in Namibia.
In contrast to other payment systems on the internet, this ensures that payments from abroad are automatically reported to the Bank of Namibia as required. VCS is easy and quick to use; the link can be found on the "Contact Us" page.
Of course, the usual procedure of paying by credit card and sending the data via email is still available.
The worldwide trend for camping in nature can also be noticed at the Waterberg. In the past year, the Waterberg Plateau Campsite quite often had to refuse guests because it was fully booked. Good news: That should not happen again this year.
In December twelve new pitches were completed on the Waterberg Plateau Campsite – with three ablution buildings and a swimming pool. Like the previous eight places each pitch has its own shower and toilet in the common ablution building.
The new part of the camp site adjoins on the other side of the access road and snuggles into a slope shaped like an amphitheatre at the foot of the Waterberg. Of course, it was ensured that the tent pitches are situated separately between rocks and bush, so that every guest can enjoy his privacy. The kiosk, where you can buy drinks and barbecue meat, is easily accessible from both parts of the campsite.
The expansion also makes it possible to separate individual travellers and groups even more consistently. The 20 pitches at the Waterberg Plateau Campsites are designated for individual guests, while groups are accommodated wherever possible on the four pitches of the separately located Waterberg Andersson Camp.
The area of today's nature reserve Waterberg Wilderness celebrates this year a milestone birthday: 110 years ago began the operation on the then newly founded farm Otjosongombe. Immigrated from Germany, the farmer was the grandson of a well-known composer...
... and bore the same name: Friedrich von Flotow. However, he was less musical than his grandfather, who had made a name for himself especially with the opera "Martha". Like thousands of young Germans, he emigrated at the turn of the century, but not to America, but to the colony German South West Africa.
Von Flotow planted citrus trees and vegetables to sell to the nearby police station. In 1911 he was able to acquire the farm. Despite hard work, however, it was barely enough to feed his family. His eldest son, Adolf, who took over the farm operation in 1952, shifted the focus to cattle breeding, so that the farm now lived up to its name: In the language of the Herero Otjosongombe means as much as place of cattle.
It was not until the turn of the millennium that the basic transition to a guest farm took place: The farm buildings were carefully converted to the Waterberg Wilderness Lodge and the farm became a nature reserve. A touch of history, however, has been preserved – not only in the atmosphere of the lodge, but also in the form of the photos in the rooms, which show the guest the life of the farm in bygone days...
This small agile predator caused a debate among experts which lasted for decades; only in 2008 was it granted status of a species: the black mongoose. It is considered very rare. However, in the Waterberg Plateau Lodge black mongooses are often seen milling around between the rocks.
In 1928 the black mongoose was described scientifically for the first time, but it was not until 80 years later that it was granted the species status under the name Galerella nigrata ("Introducing the Black Mongoose" by Sara Tromp). Previously, zoologists had repeatedly referred to it as subspecies of the slender mongoose (Galerella sanguinea), which is widespread in Sub-Saharan Africa – most probably because you find slender mongooses in Namibia which have very dark coloured fur.
According to Tromp, the true black mongoose only occurs on granite Inselbergs north of Spitzkoppe. However, it is also to be found at the Waterberg, as a photo on Wikipedia proves. The mountain mainly consists of sandstone, but is also a kind of Inselberg and offers similar living conditions: boulders, between which the black mongoose can seek shelter and dig dens, and a rich food supply – from insects to small reptiles and birds right up to small mammals. It is usually looking for prey during the day. Its black fur, so experts assume, serves as camouflage in the shadow of the rocks.
With a bit of luck guests of Waterberg Plateau Lodge can spot this small black predator as it scurries around between the boulders near the chalets. It is not easy to take pictures of it, though, as it is constantly in motion. If it keeps still, then preferably in the shade. Therefore, experts could argue that it may be a very dark slender mongoose until we or one of our guests succeed in a clear evidence photo...
Waterberg Wilderness broadens the view into the joint history of Namibia and Germany on its History Path. For this theme trail, two additional information boards have been compiled that explain developments before and after the Battle of Waterberg 1904...
One of the panels is about the growing conflicts between Herero and Germans in the then colony of German South West Africa, leading to the colonial war. The second board explains why the relations between Namibia, which has become independent in 1990, and Germany, which reunited in the same year, are influenced by the events until today.
The history theme trail in the Waterberg Wilderness private nature reserve now includes seven information points. In the centre are the skirmishes between the Herero and the German Schutztruppe at the Waterberg. Walking along the History Path, the visitor also passes two sites where one of the skirmishes took place in August 1904 and where a refugee camp for scattered Herero was established in January 1906.
While having dinner, guests of the Waterberg Wilderness Lodge now enjoy the view of the bush and the trees at the foot of the reddish cliffs of the Waterberg: The new dining room was opened end of June. In place of the previous restaurant there are now two new guest rooms.
The new dining room is not only situated at the edge of the garden, but also closer to the kitchen, so the waiters have a shorter distance to cover. With the two new rooms, the lodge now features a total of 14 rooms. Four of them are family rooms with three or four beds.
Another aim of the alteration was to separate the guest rooms even better from the general facilities of the lodge such as the library and the dining room, thus giving all guests more privacy.
Great concern in the private nature reserve: One of the two rhino cows was suddenly not seen anymore. You can't help to think of poaching which is a problem in Namibia, too. But then the rhino rangers came back with good news: The cow was fine – and not alone anymore!
The rhino cow had retired into the bush to give birth. Photos clearly show that it is a bull calf. Newborns of white rhino weigh about 50 kilograms. The baby was conceived already in December 2015, because white rhinos carry about 16 months. For Waterberg Wilderness, the offspring is a great joy on two accounts: After years of waiting, doubts arose about the fertility of the animals.
By the way: At Ghaub Nature Reserve and Farm, our partner, the rhinos had young ones, too.
Guests can experience the rhinos close up on a Rhino Drive and a Rhino Tracking Tour. However, in the first few weeks, the tour guides keep a significantly greater distance to avoid stress for the cow and the calf.