As told by Samara's founders
It was a very strange feeling because it was totally unprompted and quite unexpected. A battlefield is not normally the sort of place one associates with affairs of the heart. However, the battle sites of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift in KwaZulu-Natal must have inspired some primal emotions that led to conduct quite markedly in contrast to our normal, rational behaviour.
After a long dinner accompanied by several glasses of superb South African Cabernet up in Northern Natal, the site of British triumph and Zulu tragedy, we started chatting to a chap from quite a different part of South Africa – the Great Karoo. Magical tales were woven about the millions of springbok that once roamed this area, the “Vanished Kings”, the black-maned Cape lion who majestically reigned over the Plains of Camdeboo, the rhino, the cheetah, the now-extinct quagga, the explorers, the characters of yesteryear and the haunting beauty of the semi-desert land.
The dream continued – amass enough land to have a self-sustaining ecosystem that would support wildlife: the herds of antelope that used to inhabit this area, and the predators to keep the balance that helps maintain these fragile ecosystems.
67,000 acres and a quarter of a century later, Samara’s rewilding journey has picked up pace. The land is beginning to recover from the effects of generations of agricultural exploitation. The haunting beauty of the landscape that first inspired this campaign of rejuvenation has returned. An ambitious programme of land rehabilitation and wildlife reintroduction has brought Samara’s valleys, plains and mountains back to life. Herds of springbok, black wildebeest, zebra and eland now roam the Plains of Camdeboo. Rhinoceros, elephant and cheetah meander across the veld once more. Almost two centuries after it was last seen, the lion reigns again.
Samara’s vision now extends beyond our borders to the creation of South Africa’s 3rd largest protected area in a Global Biodiversity Hotspot, providing a winning plan for the people and wild places of the Karoo.