While many people already know about the Richtersveld National Park, more and more people are catching on about its equally large southern neighbour, the Richtersveld Community Conservancy, and the multitude of activities that it offers.

Recently, the historically disadvantaged people of the Richtersveld have united, reclaimed title to their traditional land, and set aside this conservancy to be forever conserved for research and tourism. Now, it offers some of southern Africa’s finest hiking, 4x4 driving, camping and cultural experiences.
  The impetus for the conservancy grew out of a field trip in 1997 when the Eksteenfontein Youth Forum went to see the petroglyphs along the Orange River and found that some had been removed and others damaged. The sense of loss created a feeling in the community that something had to be done to protect the cultural and natural attributes of the Richtersveld. The 1998 Integrated Development Plan proposed that a large section of the Richtersveld be set aside for conservation and a reference group was elected to draw up a management plan. This process went though three proposals until the Richtersveld community accepted a management proposal in 2004 and a permanent management committee was elected. In 2005 the South African Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism allocated R6-million for the development of the conservancy and the Richtersveld Community Conservancy was included as part of a proposed World Heritage Site.  
  The Richtersveld has a long and tough history shaped over time by the rugged land and the hard lives of people who made it their home.
Excavations show human habitation of the Richtersveld dating back for thousands of years. Old San petroglyphs and grave sites are testimony to the long history of the Richtersveld people.

Modern human history in the Richtersveld began when the Nama-Khoi were pushed into the remote region by pressures from the expansion of other farmers from the south.
Similarly, the San people were forced into the area from the north. While fighting occurred initially, the two groups soon merged into a people now known as the Nama people. The last main group of people to arrive in the Richtersveld were the “Bosluis-Basters” from Bushmanland.

As a result of apartheid and being forced out of their homeland, they re-located in the Richtersveld with the help of the church.
Today, it is the Nama and Baster people who have united to create the Richtersveld Community Conservancy. While there is hardship and pain in the history of the Richtersveld, the Richtersvelders take immense pride in their land and have taken significant measures to plan its management for future generations.

Many Richtersvelders found livelihood in the diamond mining industry which still provides many jobs to the local people. However, the mainstay over the years has been the traditional farming of sheep, goats and donkey.
Visit the Richtersveld today and you will see a healthy balance between the continuation of an age-old pastoral lifestyle and a conservation insight to maintain the health of the land.

  What was previously a ‘colored’ reserve in a neglected, faraway region has become a model community conservation area