Nyae Nyae

The Ju/'hoansi and Nyae Nyae Conservancy

The Nyae Nyae Conservancy is the ancestral home of the Ju/'hoansi (San) Bushmen. A vast track of Kalahari wilderness and one of the last true wilderness regions in Namibia where game still move freely. Through ash taken from fires below the calcrete layer, archaeologists claim the Ju/'hoansi have lived in the Nyae Nyae for at least 40,000 years.

auru_panThe Nyae Nyae region is a semi-desert covered by grasses and thorn bush punctuated by baobab trees and clay pans that fill with water during the rainy season. An uplift of rock beneath the sand brings the water table close to the surface feeding 30 permanent bore-holes.

Historically the inhospitable surrounding desert protected Nyae Nyae from Bantu tribes and European settles making inroads into the region. The relative isolation of the Nyae Nyae makes the Ju/'hoansi the most traditional of all San groups.

Up until the early 1950's the Ju/'hoansi practiced a lifestyle of hunters and gatherers visiting the greater Kalahari ecosystem. With the building of a fence along the Namibia/Botswana boarder in 1965, the Ju/'hoansi were squeezed into an ever diminishing landscape by the South African government which ruled South West Africa until Namibian independence in 1990. Bushmanland was created in attempt to segregate ethnic groups under apartheid, leaving the Ju/'hoansi with 10% of their former territory. A dramatic reduction in land base forced the Ju/'hoansi to adopted to new lifestyles.

gurapan In 1998 the Nyae Nyae Conservancy became the first communal area in Namibia to be declared a conservancy by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism. This gave the Ju/hoansi the rights to hunt traditionally, manage natural resources including wildlife and promote tourism. Although many traditional elements still remain, the Ju/'hoansi have integrated traditional skills with modern forms of natural resource management.

The conservancy is a community based organisation established by and for the Ju/'hoan people, run by a democratically elected management committee and board. It plays a key part in a broader community program, in an attempt to improve livelihoods through sustainable use of natural resources and tourism. Their spirit plays an integral part of their vision, ensuring the long term improvement of the quality of life and maintenance of Ju/'hoan culture.

gurapanThe Nyae Naye Conservancy, Khaudom National Park and newly gazetted N?a-Jaqna Conservancy (2003) incorporate 22,000 square kilometers of wilderness wildlife habitat and home to the largest free ranging roan antelope herds in Namibia. The conservancy provides habitat to common game species, elephant, a small numbers of buffalo, a sparse population of lion to the north, leopard, spotted hyena and wild dog. During the rainy season Nyae Nyae Pan becomes a wetland of international importance with migrating flamingos and rare wattle crane and slated egret.


Nyae Nyae Conservancy