Namibia wildlife fuels Noah's Ark II

20th Aug 2013

Namibia is powering Noah's Ark II, although they might not be going in two by two this time.

The southern Africa country is a magnet for wildlife-loving holidaymakers on specialist tours. Now it is sharing some of its abundant natural riches with Cuba.

Noah's Ark II is the name given to a project to relocate 135 wild animals from Namibia's national parks to the Caribbean country's 342-hectare national zoological park on the outskirts of Havana.

The huge relocation project will be concluded in September with Namibia airlifting 10 rhinoceros and five elephants to Cuba.

The 15 animals will be taken from the Etosha National Park in the north of the country plus a nearby smaller game reserve, the Waterberg Plateau, environment and tourism deputy-minister Pohamba Shifeta told AFP.

Etosha is one of Namibia's leading tourist attractions for holidaymakers on group tours or family holidays alike, accounting for a quarter of all its tourists.

Namibia also boasts the birthplace of Tippi Benjamine Okanti Degri, dubbed "the real-life Mowgli" whose first 10 years were spent growing up in the African bush in a Jungle Book-like existence.

Many years on, Namibia is still one of the world's biggest animal playgrounds for holidaymakers to enjoy, with wildlife remaining its No.1 attraction.

The other 120 animals, including 23 species such as endangered black and white rhinos, cheetahs, leopards, hyenas and lions, were taken to Cuba in November.

The donation aims to help Cuba establish a "proper wildlife programme", fulfilling a promise to its government in 2009 during a visit to Namibia by the country's president, Raul Castro.

Cuba's national zoological park differs to most zoos as the animals all live outside cages.

It boasts a lions' pit and Africa-style savanna areas with lakes for hippopotamus, and areas for other South African species such as giraffes, zebras, antelopes, elephants and other species to roam.


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