A gem of a new national park
Issue 4 (May 2009) The entire coast of Namibia is now protected following the creation of a new National Park called Sperrgebiet. It is the biggest national park to be created in Africa in the last 25 years.


It runs from Oranjemund, on the border with South Africa, to some 72km north of Lüderitz. Sperrgebiet means the ‘forbidden zone’ and travel into much of this 26,000 square kilometre region of southwest Namibia has been banned since the early 1900s in order to protect the diamond industry that thrives there. Because of the lack of human intervention in the last century, the flora and fauna are particularly diverse. Some 1050 plants are known to occur – that’s nearly 25 per cent of the entire flora of Namibia in less than three per cent of the country’s land area. The new national park also has 80 terrestrial and 38 marine mammal species, 215 bird species, almost 100 reptile species and 16 different frogs. As a national park, the area will be opened up for limited, heavily-controlled tourism.

Now Namibian authorities are talking about the possibility of merging all the country’s coastal parks to form one large park, provisionally called The Namib-Skeleton Coast. It would stretch 1570 km along Namibia’s coastline from the Orange River in the south to the Kunene River in the north.

At its narrowest point, on the Skeleton Coast, The Namib-Skeleton Coast National Park would extend just 25km inland, while at its widest, in the Naukluft area, it would be 180km across. If created, The Namib-Skeleton Coast Park would be the eighth-largest protected area in the world and the largest park in Africa, covering an area of 107,540 square kilometres.

The new park would not exist in isolation. In the south, across the Orange River it borders the Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Conservation Area. To the north, across the Kunene River, it borders the Iona National Park in Angola.

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