Waterberg Plateau Park
Waterberg Plateau Park is a national park in central Namibia encompassing the Waterberg Plateau, 68 km east of the town of Otjiwarongo. The Waterberg Plateau is a particularly prominent feature, elevated high above the plains of the Kalahari of Eastern Namibia. The plateau and some 405 km² of surrounding land were declared a nature reserve in 1972. The plateau is largely inaccessible. In the early 1970s, several of Namibia’s endangered species were translocated there to protect them from predators and poaching to extinction. The programme was very successful, and Waterberg now supplies other Namibian parks with rare species. In 1989, black rhinos were reintroduced to the area from Damaraland, sparking a successful breeding programme of national and international significance for the species.
The Waterberg Plateau Park is ecologically diverse and rich and has over 200 different species of birds and some rare species of small antelope on the lower hills of the mountain.
Geologically, the oldest rock stratum is over 850 million years old, and dinosaur tracks were left there some 200 million years ago. The first human inhabitants were the San people; they left rock engravings believed to be several thousand years old. A small tribe of the San was still living their traditional lifestyle on the plateau until the late 1960s.
The site is also home to one of the major turning points in Namibia’s history. It was at Waterberg, in the foothills, that the Ovaherero people lost their last and greatest battle against German colonial forces at the beginning of the 20th century. They were forced to retreat from the Waterberg and headed eastward to British Bechuanaland (now Botswana). Thousands were killed by the pursuing Germans, and many lost their lives in the Kalahari Desert due to lack of food and water. Estimates are that nearly two-thirds of the Ovaherero population lost their lives during this period. The graves of German soldiers who lost their lives at Waterberg can still be viewed near the rest camp at the base of the park.