Yesterday a large and diverse group paid tribute to IRDNC founder, committed conservationist, and hero to many Garth Owen-Smith at Wereldsend. Said TOSCO founder and Lion Ranger program coordinator Felix Vallat, “It was sincere, moving, inspiring…a perfect between Himba traditional funerals and a western one. Garth left a big space for us to grow and bloom, which we will!” The ceremony brought together people from across Namibia and the thoughts and prayers of a world of partners who could not return due to travel restrictions. There were private planes and traditional Himba marches, headmen from the north and local friends, hunters and wildlife advocates, a truly cross-cultural crowd of partners, all of whom were inspired by Garth’s message and commitment to making the world a better place.
Garth was laid to rest on a small hill overlooking the Wereldsend base camp which he helped to found in the early 1980s. Since that time the camp has become home to research and conservation programs, including the field base for the Lion Rangers. It is simultaneously saddening to know that Garth is no longer available to guide us directly, and heartening to remember that we can always go and consult him for advice, right nearby. We miss him greatly and will work to ensure and broaden his legacy.