A game reserve is defined as a large area where wild animals live safely or are hunted in a controlled way for sport. Game reserves exist specifically to preserve wild animals and serve as a place where animals can safely live without being disturbed by poachers, hunters, or any other form of intruder.

Therefore, game reserves are set aside as a protected area before animals are introduced to the environment, and a large expanse of land is dedicated to this purpose. In these areas, fauna like antelope, rhino, and giraffes are protected. Animals are primarily safe in game reserves, and even if they are hunted at all, it is done in a controlled manner. Many game reserves are established in Africa, and most are open to the public, as tourists commonly take sightseeing safaris. Let us take a closer look at the importance of game reserves and their functions in society.

Game reserves are dedicated places for wildlife conservation

The depletion of the world’s forests means the natural habitats of the world’s animals continue to shrink. Also, creating slums or shanty towns around some cities’ borders limits the space left for animals to thrive. Therefore, a game reserves’ existence makes it easier for local authorities and individuals to dedicate space, time, and resources to the conservation and protection of these animals. 

Game reserves offer protection of natural vegetation

Many towns and cities are overpopulated and the expansion of these towns and cities destroy forests and threaten the remaining vegetation in these areas. The urban world is growing rapidly and for this reason, dedicated space for wildlife and vegetation is becoming a necessity. Biodiversity is necessary to keep our ecosystems balanced and game reserves help protect and conserve critical ecological areas. It is well known that several species of animals face extinction, but what is less often discussed is the threat to our vegetation and landscapes. Game reserves combat the danger that urbanisation and overpopulation pose to these historically rich areas and ensure the life cycles are protected.

Game reserves provide animals with food and shelter

Game reserves serve as a source of food and shelter for the animals that live there. Wild fruits of various kinds are found on the reserves, and some roots and tubers are also available to be used as food. The animals also serve as a source of food to each other as they rely on the food chain, and this also includes herbivorous animals being provided with a grazing area. Game reserves allow animals to live in their natural habitat and shelters them from having their territorial grounds stripped away.

Game reserves generate income from tourism

Some game reserves serve as great tourist destinations. Tourism can fund projects to restore and protect the country’s indigenous fauna and flora, attract international investment, and provide economic opportunities for rural communities. Tourism spreads wealth throughout the country, benefiting people in remote and rural communities.

Game reserves create employment

Animals need constant protection from the pressure of poachers and the danger they pose to the extinction of the animals. Guards are employed to protect the animals for this reason. In addition to guards, tour guides are employed to take visitors around and offer them deep insight into the animal’s habits and lifestyle. The administrative staff is also essential for the smooth operation of game reserves. For instance, receptionists are needed to ensure that visitors are booked into suitable rooms and are provided with itineraries for their activities. General workers are also required to ensure that the animals are fed and that their habitat is clean. Therefore, game reserves are imperative because they offer employment opportunities to the community.

Game reserves provide the pleasure of observing the animals

People derive great pleasure from observing animal behaviour in their natural environment. That pleasure alone is enough for people to insist that game reserves are preserved and even that others are created to serve as a source of happiness. Many game reserves offer Safari viewing to visitors, and this rich experience is thoroughly enjoyed by tourists and locals alike.

Nature-based tourism refers to all tourism forms where relatively undisturbed natural environments form the primary attraction or setting. The wildlife- and nature-based tourism sectors, specifically, support a vast number of associated industries and sectors, such as the conservation sector, through income generation for park management, wildlife protection, anti-poaching, and to some degree border control. For years, national and provincial conservation agencies have generated significant revenue through nature-based tourism that contributes substantially to conservation management. 

Game reserves in Namibia also generate substantial benefits to the surrounding communities contributing to visitors’ goods and services. In the absence of economic activity in these reserves, there is an increased risk of poaching, illegal resource extraction, and park invasion. Years of engaging communities to share in the benefits of conservation and nature-based tourism will be undone if our protected areas lose their economic value to the communities who depend on them. It is also worthy to note that many people employed in the nature-based tourism sector are unskilled or semi-skilled workers who are usually breadwinners in their families. 

Namibia has an impressive diversity of animals, plants, and natural places, and this biological diversity is valuable in many ways. Besides the pleasure that many people take in observing and experiencing nature, our biodiversity provides food, shelter, grazing, pollination, and many other services. 

Game reserves play an essential role in maintaining this biodiversity. Not only do they serve to conserve natural spaces, but they also allow us to monitor how ecosystems function naturally when undisturbed. Acknowledging that education and awareness are springboards for change teaches the importance of learning about and preserving our natural environment, which arms us to protect our natural environment.

Ohorongo Game Reserve is a non-profit organisation that is dedicated to creating a sustainable conservation legacy in Africa for the past 50 years. Our values are embedded in the sustainability of both humans and animals. We ensure that our visitors are prepared for an adventurous experience in the lap of luxury that is our reserve. 

— Innocentia Ranyaoa, Fizzin