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September 29, 2020

Richtersveld Cultural & Botanical Landscape

Volenti van der Westhuizen 

Field Ranger in the Richtersveld Ai - Ais Transfrontier Park 

The Richtersveld shares its stories slowly. It is a place hardened by dry open veldt, rocks and mountains, and softened by the colours of the plants and trees, and character of its people. 

Volenti van der Westhuizen is one of these characters. She loves the calm that comes with the pace of life in the Richtersveld. She speaks about life here softly and with sentiment, almost like she is sharing secrets. 

She used to head up the Tourism Bureau in Eksteenfontein and was part of the team that made sure the Richtersveld would receive World Heritage status. These days she is a field guide in the Richtersveld Ai-Ais Transfrontier Park where she works specifically in the botanical department. The Richtersveld is also a botanical wonder, after all. 
It all happened one day when they realised that a big San Rock painting was stolen from nearby rock formations. It had been chiselled off during the weekend and suddenly the Richtersveld felt different. Emptier. They knew they had to do something to create legislation around the protection of the area. Something to give the people a firm foot to stand on when it comes to protecting their heritage. It’s for the generations to come. 
Volenti doesn’t want to imagine a world where we have to show the children picture books of what their heritage once was. Protecting the things that are of universal significance also paves a path to possible future tourism opportunities. Like everything in the Richtersveld, it’s a slow process, and It’s all work that only future generations will benefit from.


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