Vast herds of eland and Cape buffalo roamed the grasslands, black rhinoceros thrived in the dense thickets, and herds of elephant meandered up from the coast to feed along the green mountain slopes. The abundance of Cape lion, a fearsome beast with a black mane, made travelling by oxwagon at night an impossibility. Most impressive of all, however, was the springbok migration, when up to a million of these trekbokke – ‘migrating antelope’ – converged into a single herd 3 miles wide, traversing the Karoo and leaving clouds of dust in their wake.
Today, this wildlife has largely been eliminated. Fences and guns stopped the springbok in their tracks. The Cape lion is now extinct, as is the quagga, a type of zebra with a brown rump. Much of the Karoo has been converted to livestock farms, with sheep and goats replacing the past abundance of antelope.
Recreating what once was
Samara’s vision is to recreate the Karoo of old – restoring the degraded habitats and reintroducing the full complement of wildlife in this hauntingly beautiful semi-arid land. Since our journey began in 1997, we have engaged in an ambitious programme of animal reintroduction, with the first wild cheetah back in the region in 125 years, the first desert-adapted black rhino on private land, the first elephants in over a century, and many other indigenous species. Most recently, we reintroduced the first lions back in the region in 180 years.
Our dream is for Samara to one day be part of a conservation landscape large enough to sustain the abundance and diversity of wildlife documented by early explorers – from herd of buffalo 200-strong to packs of Wild dog.
Karoo Lodge: your home away from home
The Manor: a haven of luxury and tranquillity