Museums, Art Galleries and Botanical Gardens

ID #4799

Rhino Museum, Waterberg Centre for Environmental Conservation, Vaalwater, Waterberg, Bushveld, Limpopo Province.

It incorporates the Rhino Museum and the Waterberg Museum.

Since the turn of the century, black rhino have been virtually exterminated from the Cape to the Sudan. That they have survived to the end of the 20th century is a near miracle.  White rhino, by contrast, were all but exterminated in Southern Africa around the turn of the last century. Fortunately, because of the efforts of the Natal Parks Board (now the Kwa-Zulu Natal Conservation Services), the population has since recovered and is now thriving.  There are four surviving populations of rhino – Kenya, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa.  South Africa presently has the largest number of both species.  They are kept in tightly controlled areas to limit poaching.

The Rhino Museum is devoted entirely to the conservation of rhino -- the reason being that people need to be made aware of what has befallen the species, what is being done about it and why it is important that rhino do not become extinct.  The museum highlights:

•    Evolutionary history
•    Biology
•    Habitat and landscape
•    Illegal trade and use of rhino horn
•    Art and literature
•    Men and women in rhino conservation (past and present),
•    Can the rhino be saved from extinction?
•    Role of NGO’s in rhino conservation

Waterberg Museum: The Waterberg lies 300-km north of the Witwatersrand. It has a long history of human occupation. Stone Age implements fashioned by Homo Erectus have been found along the Lephalala River. Bushmen (Bushman) hunter/gatherers were displaced within the last 2000 years when the first Iron Age peoples moved into the area. Their settlements are to be found throughout the region. Their diverse cultural history, while studied in detail by many, is barely known to the public.  From the mid 1800’s the Waterberg witnessed the elimination of all mega-fauna – i.e. rhino, elephant, lion, buffalo, giraffe, spotted hyena (hyaena) and most antelope. Until 1900, the region had an air of mystique. The President of the Old Transvaal Republic is said to have remarked about a troublesome citizen: “Give him a farm in the Waterberg”. It also became the home, before the second Anglo-Boer War, of people who established themselves in the region. Eugene Marais, the father of African ecology and author of two famous books on the subject: “My friends the Baboons” and “The Soul of the White Ant” arrived in the Waterberg in 1907 and settled on the farm Doornhoek. He subsequently wrote another classic entitled: “Road to Waterberg”.  The museum includes an art gallery, library, Limpopo Province Tourist information Centre, and the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve Headquarters and Ecological Institute

Walker’s Wayside:  In the grounds of the Centre. Stop over for tea or coffee and a light meal, or an evening meal in the licensed restaurant. In the old Melkrivier School (1935), which has since been restored. Open from 09h00 but closed on Mondays.  It is on the road to Marken via Vaalwater and is en-route to Lapalala Wilderness. Ample parking is available. Hike on a self-guided walk along the Melkrivier or spend a few nights in one of the self-catering bush camps close to the centre.

The Waterberg Centre is an environmental awareness project of The Wilderness Trust and the Rhino and Elephant Foundation. Fund Raising Number 03-03000046-00-2.

Marken is northeast of Vaalwater, which is on the R33 northwest of Nylstroom, which is on the N1 south of Potgietersrus, which is at the intersection of the N1 with the N11. Exit the N1 at the Nyl Toll Plaza and travel northwest on the R33 through Nylstroom to Vaalwater (72-km). Turn north towards Marken and drive a further 40-km to the Melkrivier School. Turn left to the centre as well as Lapalala Wilderness. AXRhino

Contct:            Box 157 Vaalwater 0530
            +27 (14) 552 4041 telephone
            +27 (14) 765 0116 fax

Johannesburg        +27 (11) 453 7645 telephone
            +27 (11) 453 7649 fax

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Last update: 2009-07-15 14:56
Author: Alan McIver
Revision: 1.0

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