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ORYCS - Options for sustainable land use adaptations in savanna systems - is a research projects funded by BMBF from 2019 to 2023. ORYCS is an international collaboration including BBIB partners from University of Potsdam and Freie Universität Berlin, together with social sciences, two Namibian Universities, and the Namibian Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism.

The overarching key objective of ORYCS is to provide the first, urgently needed, scientifically rigorous assessment of wildlife-based land use options in Namibian savannas that can be extrapolated to similar savanna systems worldwide. In ORYCS we use the traditional definition of wildlife i.e. large, wide-ranging and undomesticated animal species. We specifically focus on endemic large herbivores with different feeding patterns (Mountain zebra, Plains zebra, Kudu, Oryx and Eland antelopes) and human-wildlife conflict species (elephants and large predators such as lions and leopards) that have a high intrinsic value and are vital to Namibian savannas. By understanding and aiming to improve wildlife-based management options, ORYCS contributes to better protect all other biodiversity of plants and smaller animal species that shelter under the canopy of selected wildlife.

To learn more about the international subprojects, partnerships, and exchange programs, visit



Irob K, Blaum N, Weiss-Aparicio A, Hauptfleisch M, Hering R, Uiseb K & Tietjen B (2023). Savanna resilience to droughts increases with the proportion of browsing wild herbivores and plant functional diversity. Journal of Applied Ecology. 00:1–12. doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.14351

Luetkemeier R, Kraus R, Mbidzo M, Hauptfleisch M, Liehr S, Blaum N (accepted). A qualitative exploration of conflicts in human-wildlife inter-actions in Namibia’s Kunene Region. MDPI Diversity.



Broekman MJ et al., Blaum N et al., Hauptfleisch M, Hering R et al., Jeltsch F et al. & Tucker M (2022). Evaluating expert-based habitat suitability information of terrestrial mammals with GPS-tracking data. Global Ecology and Biogeography. 31(8):1526-1541. doi: 10.1111/geb.13523

Atmani F, Bookhagen B, Smith TT (2022). Measuring Vegetation Heights and Their Seasonal Changes in the Western Namibian Savanna Using Spaceborne Lidars. Remote Sensing. doi: 10.3390/rs14215427

Hering R, Hauptfleisch M, Jago M, Smith TT, Kramer-Schadt S, Stiegler J, Blaum N (2022). Don't stop me now: Managed fence gaps could allow migratory ungulates to track dynamic resources and reduce fence related energy loss. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. doi: 10.3389/fevo.2022.907079

Hering R, Hauptfleisch M, Kramer-Schadt S, Stiegler J, Blaum N (2022). Effects of fences and fence gaps on the movement behavior of three southern African antelope species. Frontiers in Conservation Science. 3: 959423. doi: 10.3389/fcosc.2022.959423.

Maestre FT et al., Blaum N et al., Jeltsch F et al., Gross N (2022). Grazing and ecosystem service delivery in global drylands. Science. 378(6622):915-920. doi: 10.1126/science.abq4062

Reinhard J, Geissler K & Blaum N (2022). Grass and ground dwelling beetle community responses to holistic and wildlife grazing management using a cross-fence comparison in Western Kalahari rangeland, Namibia. Journal of Insect Conservation. 26: 711-720. doi: 10.1007/s10841-022-00410-6

Szangolies L, Lohmann D, Hauptfleisch M, Jeltsch F (accepted). Balanced functional herbivore composition stabilizes tree-grass coexistence and productivity in a simulated savanna rangeland ecosystem. Journal of Rangeland Ecology & Management (Revision after invited resubmission).

Berry PE, Dammhahn M & Blaum N (accepted). Keeping cool on hot days: Activity responses of African antelope to heat extremes. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.

Irob K, Blaum N, Baldauf S, Kerger L, Strohbach B, Kanduvarisa A, Lohmann D & Tietjen B (2022). Browsing herbivores improve the state and functioning of savannas: A model assessment of alternative land use strategies. Ecology and Evolution. 12:e8715. doi: 10.1002/ece3.8715



Luetkemeier R, Mbidzo M, Liehr S (2021). Water security and rangeland sustainability: Transdisciplinary research insights from Namibian-German collaborations. South African Journal of Science. 117(1/2). doi:10.17159/sajs.2021/7773

Lütkemeier R, Kraus R, Mbidzo M, Hauptfleisch M, Liehr L (2021). Stakeholder attitudes towards wildlife-based land use in Namibia’s Kunene Region. Joint XXIV International Grassland Congress and XI International Rangeland Congress (IGC-IRC2021). Proceedings. Nairobi, Kenya. Full Paper



Fickel T, Lütkemeier R, Hummel D (2020). Biodiversitätskonflikte. Eine sozial-ökologische Perspektive. W & F Wissenschaft und Frieden. 38(4): 26-29.