Richtersveld Cultural And Botanical Landscape 

by Kojo Pocu
Richtersveld Cultural And Botanical Landscape 

The Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape, a spectacular mountainous desert in the north-west of the country, was inscribed as a South African World Heritage Site in June 2007. It is solely owned and administered by the Nama population, who are descended from the Khoi-Khoi people. Extreme heat and a rough, desolate landscape define this place.

The decision of the community that manages the environment to dedicate it to conservation is extraordinary, both in South African and global standards. The Nama had little to show for themselves until recently.

It was only a few years ago when the Richtersveld region was returned to their possession via the nation’s land restitution programme that their forefathers were finally able to return to the Western and Northern Cape, their ancestral home.

A multitude of regions encircle the Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape, giving further protection. The Nama are able to maintain their semi-nomadic pastoral way of life because to places like the Richtersveld National Park, the Nababiep Provincial Nature Reserve, and designated communal grazing areas.

Currently, the Nama people reside just outside the declared region in the three small communities of Kuboes, Lekkersing, and Eksteenfontein. The Nama’s seasonal migration between stock-posts with their traditional demountable mat-roofed dwellings known as haru oms—a practise that has persisted for almost two millennia—protects the endangered Karoo vegetation, which is characterised by succulents.

The enormous communal grazing areas provide as a tangible illustration of how humans and environment can coexist.

Richtersveld Cultural And Botanical Landscape 

Outstanding Universal Value (By

The Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape’s vast communal grazing fields are a testament to land management practises that have protected the succulent Karoo vegetation and so show how people and nature can coexist peacefully. The seasonal movements of graziers between stockposts with traditional demountable mat-roofed dwellings, or |haru oms, also reflect a practise that has existed for at least two millennia and was originally considerably more common throughout Southern Africa; the Nama are now its last practitioners.

Criterion (iv): The rich diverse botanical landscape of the Richtersveld, shaped by the pastoral grazing of the Nama, represents and demonstrates a way of life that persisted for many millennia over a considerable part of southern Africa and was a significant stage in the history of this area.

Criterion (v): The Richtersveld is one of the few areas in southern Africa where transhumance pastoralism is still practised; as a cultural landscape it reflects long-standing and persistent traditions of the Nama, the indigenous community. Their seasonal pastoral grazing regimes, which sustain the extensive bio-diversity of the area, were once much more widespread and are now vulnerable.

The cultural landscape comprises all the elements linked to the transhumance lifestyle of the Nama pastoralists. The authenticity of the grazing areas and stockposts is incontrovertible. The authenticity of the traditional domed houses is mainly intact, despite the incorporation of some new materials along with the finely braided traditional mats. There are increasing numbers of young people interested in continuing the traditions.

Richtersveld Cultural And Botanical Landscape 

The Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape has full legal protection. The process of declaring the property as a Heritage Area was completed in early 2007. The traditional land-use system of the Nama should be seen as part of the protection system. A buffer zone has been established. The two key areas for conservation measures are sustaining the grazing areas and sustaining the tradition of building portable mat-roofed houses. The Richtersveld Community Conservancy (RCC) is managed by a Communal Property Association (CPA) with a Management Committee (company without profit) and a participative Management Plan is in place to manage the identified Heritage Area. The Management Plan, addresses management structures, infrastructure development, awareness raising, tourism development and monitoring and evaluation. It should provide support to the traditional management system rather than replacing it.


Richtersveld Cultural and Botanical Landscape, Namaqualand, Northern Cape, South Africa

When To Visit

Best during daylight hours.

Contact Details

Tel Khuboes: 027 8312013
Tel Eksteenfontein: 027 8517108

Email: [email protected]