Take action and help us save this unique herd of wild horses
This year I visited Namibia to seek the truth of a myth and wanted to capture it for my new photo series: Wild Horses in the oldest desert of the world – the namib desert. What I found was something totally different from what I had expected, yet it changed everything. At first my heart danced, then it broke. The wild desert horses are a symbol for the unchanging spirit of this species, a testimony of their frequently underestimated strength and a proof of the adaptability these animals have. They are a part of the country and inevitable merged to its history. But this symbol fades and I want to support the local organisation“Namibia Wild Horses Foundation“ to prevent this. Be part of this movement – help us – and with this help the wild horses of the namib desert.
On this page you can find a short summary of all relevant details concerning the wild horses of Garub.
Wild horses with German origin in the desert of Namibia (Africa) – how is this possible? Not only horse lovers think this claim seems past belief. Mindblowing – but true. Many years ago I found out about this myth. I decided to travel there some day in order to learn how this special constellation was created and how it was capable of surving in the oldest desert on earth. This day had come late, almost too late. Shortly before my departure I discovered that the wild horses weren’t in such a splendid condition anymore as it once was told. I had 3 days to find them, to visualize their situation and to take photos of them. The first part – tracking them down – wasn’t that hard. On the first day we met some young stallions who begged for food on the road. During the following days there were other stallions and herds showing up nearby. Some of them extremely emaciated, some of them seemed to be a bit healthier.
The individual horses reflected the destiny, which soon also would affect the herds, if nothing changed.
How did the descendants of formerly German horses end up the namib desert? In ordner to solve this we have to turn back the clock of history for round about a hundred years. I shorten this story to come to the essential (a complete and very accurate implementation of the history you can find in the book“Wild horses of the Namib Desert“). For a long time the desert region located at the coast of Africa remained unspoiled, when in the 19th century the German merchant Adolf Lüderitz established a colony. The bad water supply was the reason for the late settlement, which still was a problem after humans moved there. Due to the development of a railway line workers found groundwater around Garub, which also provided water supplies for Aus and Lüderitz. Water found in the desert is as valuable as gold – but this wasn’t the only thing the Namib had to offer. The region was so rich in diamonds that the workers only had to collect them off the ground surface. Because of the outbreak of the diamond rush back then the area became one of the most important anchor points in the trading time. The rich market position lead the residents to a wealthy life which included horse races and put forth horse breeders. But wait a second – what does this got to do with wild horses? The colonial period did not only turn up sparkling stones. It was also influenced by many uprisings and wars. Thousand German mounted soldiers were stationed to protect the region and also the assailants from southern Africa owned horses. In 1915 South Africa prevailed over the colony and Lüderitz, Aus and Garub were subdued under their military administration. From there the chaos increased: Due to war in Europe and between the colonies all workers were withdrawn to protect their region. Reportedly at times there had been stationed around 6000 horses in Garub which belonged to the protection force. The confusion of the post-war-period ensured that more horses became abandoned which found shelter in the restricted diamond area. No human was allowed to enter these zones. The wells created by the protection forces stayed intact which helped the wild horses to survive. Also an unusual amount of rainfalls which happend during the following years made it easy for the horses to acclimatize themselves to the new habitat. To 1986 the horses didn’t have any contact with humans. In the 90s the interest in these horses raised after only 114 of them survived a great drought. Afterwards there had been built troughs and observatory places. Since then the local organisation Namibia Wild Horses Foundation has a leading role in protecting and preserving the wild herds around Garub.
Since the beginning of the counting the number of the wild horses varies between 50 and 250 individuals. There are basically always risks in the wilderness which the horses have learned to live with. Some of these dangers include meteorological threats such as droughts, but also predators cross their range. For a few years there had been an indirect enemy, who disguises very well: The tourism. Because of the many lodges and safaris the number of a specific predator has raised to its highest: The hyena. Earlier on farms and ranches hyenas were often noticed as uninvited visitors while they are a welcomed attraction for safari tourism now. Due to the increasing population they permantly extended into regions where they only were walking by in the past. According to the local wild horse organisation earlier there had been hyena groups which visited once in a while, snatched a few horses and then moved on. This seems to be the sad circle of life, which is accepted and tolerated. Because of the overpopulation of these predators there are some animals who chose to settle for good. Not far away there is even a protected hyena area. The result: Within the last years there has been no foal surviving and the absence of rainfalls rise the number of weak and ill horses. It gets more and more easier for the hyenas to kill them. The droughts head up – a little posting to the debate about global climate change.
The conflict is clear and so is the government’s point of view: hyenas belong to Africa, wild horses not so much. Apparently not even those who play a part in the history of the country. While the organisation and the government try to work on a solution to protect both species which could took them months, the horses still need help to survive until change can actually happen. There are a lot of things to be arranged: Which animal has to go, and where to go, when to go and who will pay for this? Does any of them have to go, is there another solution?
The Namibia Wild Horses Foundation fights on political and emotional level for the survival of the wild horses and towards a longlasting solution. In their – and mine – opinion, the horses do deserve to live their life peacefully in the namib desert, because they earned their right to be there. They have become a part of it. There are no boundaries for willpower and it’s in our responsibility to preserve this symbol of boundless freedom. Especially when we take part in creating a reaction chain – no matter how small the role we play in it might be. It’s big enough to shake this delicate miracle and threaten its life.
Due to current countings there are 116 wild horses left and there exists a generation gap of 4 years (in which no foal survived).
I became aware of the seriousness of the situation and how much it would mean to me when I had the honor to meet a special horse.
With the first morning light my fellow traveller Nina and I set out on the last day of our stay in Aus to look for the wild horses once again in order to take photos of them. Still during dawn we saw a stallion standing next to the road. He was on his own. If he was too weak to follow his herd or if he decided to search food alone was a question he did not answer. The first thing I realized was how thin he looked despite his winter coat. His pelvic bones and withers sticked up high from the rest of his body, his throat was barren. Our presence didn’t bother him, he focused on his search for food. The few tufts of grass on the ground were chewed down or dried up. At some point he decided to inspect us. This time my eyes caught his. They were sticky and kinda sad. And somewhere very deep down, I saw a small sparkle of wilderness hidden in them. Such as a small light which refused to be extinguished. His expression was questioning. But not as in „Who are you?“, like I’m used to from the wild horses I met in Bosnia. More like: „Do you have anything eatable?“
The organisation prepared feeding stations with hay, but he despised them which isn’t that unusual for wild horses. They don’t know the food, their stomach doesn’t tolerate the unknown. Their body needed decades to transform to survice with a special diet. The organisation does only feed them in case of exceptional circumstances and they themselves which for the horses to be strong enough again to survive without this treatment.
We thought of a name for our new buddy and agreed with: Freddy. Somehow it fit. When writing this report I searched the internet for the meaning which is: the peaceful, the guardian. How true this was. When Freddy realised there was nothing I had to offer him, he began to move his hooves again. He prowled around on the barren ground and then came back, asking again. „Do you have anything now?“ … „Maybe now?“ … „You’re sure, you don’t have some food?“. He tried to bite the thorn bushes, but gave up after a bit. Again and again he nibbled the dried feces of other horses – at the time the most nutritious solution.
I’m going to be honest: My main job was to take photos of the horses. But there are only a few of Freddy. Though compared to other wild horses we spend the longest time with him, there are the least photos of him. Freddy had a lot to tell me and I had to listen in order to tell you. By looking in his eyes I understood what real helplessness feels like and how tiny my daily problems were. How tiny I actually was. And how important this individual and his problem are. I don’t know how much time Freddy has left to live. If he dies by starvation or if the hyenas will hunt him down, or maybe he will decide to eat that hay anyway. No matter what will happen – I want to find out. I want to witness when the small light of wilderness in his eyes transforms into a huge fire of joy. I want to witness how the winter coat through which you can clearly see his rips step aside for a healthy and shiny summer fur. I want to witness what many years ago so many movies, documentaries and photos promised me: To see the unbreakable horses of the namib desert, the living ghosts of the past.
Keep scrolling to learn how you can help Freddy and the other wild horses!
The organisation does an incredible job in preserving the wild horses and at the moment they focus their resources into additional feeding, so the wild horses have a chance to gain or keep up their strength. By creating this campaign I give you the opportunity to hang the message of the wild horses to your own four walls and at the same time support them by donating money for their feeding costs. You’re able to take part until the end of August. You have different possibilities to help the wild desert horses: You can either purchase one of the products shown below which include a donation, or you can yourself donate to me as collector or directly to the website of the organisation.
3 motives of the wild desert horses of Namibia, each printed in 13×18 cm on high quality, matt paper
This product includes a 5 € donation for the Namibia Wild Horses Foundation
(plus shipping fee starting at 5 € depending on your location)
(Place your order in filling out the contact formular at the end of the page)
1 motif of the wild desert horses of Namibia, printed in 40 x 60 cm on high quality fine art paper, personally signed by Carina
This product includes a 10 € donation for the Namibia Wild Horses Foundation
(plus shipping fee starting at 8 € depending on your location)
(Place your order in filling out the contact formular at the end of the page)
No problem. Here are two ways to do so:
a) On their Website you can directly transfer to their bank account.
b) As a private person I collect and pass on the donation. Just fill out the contact form below and I will get in touch for more details (possible as bank transfer or use my private PayPal-Account for money donation: email@example.com ).
Due to production costs and tax payments there is no profit included in the selling price. I specifically decided this so the price can be as low as possible for you with including a donation. Though my schedule was already fully booked I fought to some space for another visit at the wild horses of Namibia. My wish is to travel to them once again in October to see how the story continues. I want to see if there is already a happy ending or if the fight goes on. I want to find out what more I can do and I want to see how the horses develop. Of course there’s also hope in me to see Freddy once again. I want to take photos of the miracle of the desert to create the 2018 edition of my wild horses calendar for you.
With an amount of your choice you can support me in implementing this spontaneous trip. This is a free decision for you to make which I would be endlessly grateful for. If you want to help me there’s a spot according this favor in the contact form.
Use the contact form below to place your order or to get in touch with us. Please remember to attach relevant information such as shipping address (country). Please note that the processing of your message can take up 1-3 workdays.
A huge „Thank You“ to Christine of the Namibia Wild Horses Foundation, who spontaneously took time to meet and to also her colleagues for investing so much heart and effort in helping the wild horses over the years.
Also thanks a lot to my friends and fellow travellers: Chiara, Nina and Lina. Your support is much appreciated and the trip wouldn’t have been the same without you.