Thursday, February 9, 2017

Garub and The Desert Horses

Mankind has always loved and admired horses and been intrigued by the mystic of the desert. The combination is undeniably tantalizing, stimulating curiosity and inspiring the imagination .

For almost a 100 years the renowned desert horses of the Namib have been roaming free between Lüderitz and Aus, centering around Garub, a water point that lies about 100 kilometers east of Lüderitz and is maintained by the nature conservation authorities. In times if extended drought, supplementary feed has been put our at Garub to save them from starvation. It is here that the desert horses can be observed and photographed as they come to drink.

Thei origin of the horses remains a mystery fueled by speculation and myth. One theory is that a ship carrying thoroughbred horses from Europe to Australia ran aground near the mouth of the Orange River, and that the strongest animals reached the shore and found their way to the Garub plain. Another is that the horses are direct descendants of 15000 military mounts brought from Germany in 1904 to the then German South West Africa. Yet another is that they are descended from some 6000 horses belonging to South African soldiers who camped at the borehole at Garub in 1915. There are also speculation about the so-called Kubub stud bred at the Kubub Station under management of Lüderitz mayor Emil Kreplin, who supplied workhorses for racing and mining purposes. It is thought that the Kubub horses added to the evolvement of the desert horses of the Garub plains.

The most popular, romantic and oft-quoted theory theory is that they are descendants of the the horse stud belonging to the eccentric German nobleman, Baron Hansheinrich von Wolf, who buit a European-style castle among rolling red hills 72 kilometers south-west of Maltahöhe for his American bride, Jayta. The story goes that when Von Wolf was killed in action in 1916, the Baroness, crazed with grief, released the 300 horses into the desert. They are believed to have roamed the veld around Duwisib Castle until 1950, when some wondered 150km south west to the waterhole at Garub and became the ancestors of the herd that exists today.

International and local equine experts attribute the survival of the horses in the harsh, alien environment to unique adaptations in their physiology and behavior patterns. 

Hopefully these extraordinarily resilient animals would be around for many years to come to grace the beautiful stretch of landscape between Lüderitz and Aus.  


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