Nieuws - 8 maart 2012


Exclusive Oostvaardersplassen, announces a glossy brochure from the Dutch national forest service about this large marshland nature reserve.

And above that: Out of Africa, into the Polder. Now, I have had the privilege of making quite a few trips into African game parks in the pursuit of my Wageningen research, but it has never occurred to me to compare them to our very own Oostvaardersplassen with its deer, Heck cattle and Konik horses. When I cycle from the gate of the Hoge Veluwe park to the Kröller-Müller museum on one of the white bikes provided by the park, parts of the landscape there do remind me of the African plains. And the same goes for the Beekse Bergen safari park at Hilvarenbeek.
Come to think of it, the Beekse Bergen area has more in common with the Oostvaardersplassen than you might think. In both areas, large ruminants keep the vegetation under control, and in both parks it is human beings who have created the right conditions. The wandering herbivores didn't come here of their own accord, and most of them are not indigenous. And you have to pay an entrance fee to look at the animals.
In Africa the game parks are only visited by rich whites, and that is something they do have in common with the Oostvaardersplassen, if I understand the forest service's intentions correctly. A two-hour excursion for a maximum of five people is going to cost a mere 300 euros (not including VAT), the brochure tells me. And if you wish, a table will be spread for you in amongst the wild animals. Now that, on the other hand, is something you'd be ill-advised to do in an African game park.