Thursday 17 June 2021
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Sardarov’s N$70m animal kingdom

On the outskirts of Dordabis, an impoverished settlement outside Windhoek, stands a stark modern fortress. Behind the 28 000-hectare electric fence, steel gates and armed guards lies not a nuclear facility or an army base but a game ranch that is home to N$72 million worth of animals.
This is the Namibian home of Rashid Sardarov, a Russian billionaire and the owner of South Ural Industrial Company who is one of the 500 richest people in Russia.
The Patriot has seen a 2014 Business Plan of the game ranch which detailed how the mega facility would be set up.
By 2014, the Game Ranch was already stocked with all different types of wildlife, of which about 50% of the required 15 000 animals have already been purchased and now at the Game Ranch.
From Giraffes, Eland, Kudus, Ostrich, Steenbok, Hartebeest, Sable, Roan Antelopes, black and blue wildebeest amongst.
Sardarov, according to the business plan, bought animals such as blue Wildebeest for meagre prices such as N$2200, eland(N$6000), Hartebeest(N$2300), Warthog(N$1500) and Ostrich(N$3000) to name a few.
Marula Game Ranch is expected to compete with private game reserves such as Erindi Game Reserve, Onguma Game Reserve and Ongava Game Reserve.
The Game Ranch concept, according to the business plan, has been developed around the type of market that is being targeted, which is largely focused on attracting high-spending international tourists.
The idea of establishing this proposed world-class game ranch, which will be the only in Namibia of its kind is said to have risen out of Sardarov’s passion and love for nature and wildlife, particularly the pristine ecosystem of Namibia, which is characterized by a contrasting landscape which is unique.
“Mr. Sardarov, who is an international known philanthropic and in his free time undertake regular trips to Africa on game hunting expeditions, first visited Namibia in 2006 on one of such game trophy hunting trip.
Since then, Mr. Sardarov undertook nearly 13 – 14 visits to Namibia during the past 8 years, which eventually made him to regard Namibia as his preferred country of choice for investment.
Prior to Mr. Sardarov taking this very important business decision to consider investing in Namibia, he pursued various investment destinations in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), notably Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
After several trips to all these countries, Namibia was his obvious choice in terms of the political stability, vibrant democratic system, top-class infrastructure and telecommunication network, economic stability with sound and conducive environment for foreign direct investment,” reads the business proposal.
This is just one of many other investment opportunities that the Comsar Energy Group may pursue in the medium- and long-term in Namibia, Comsar said.
Comsar says through the Marula Game Ranch-as its first flagship project in Namibia and with close to N$700m that has already been invested in this Project-demonstrates its commitment to become a long-term investor in the Namibian economy.
It is understood that Popa Group, consisting of emerging young entrepreneurs teamed up with Comsar through their South African partner in an oil & gas concession. Popa Group was to become the local partner of Comsar in Namibia before it was sidestepped and even prepared the Business Case for the project.
Popa Group at the time advised Comsar to introduce the Marula Game Ranch project to Government noting the size of the planned investment.
Popa Group, sources said, at the time initiated a series of consultative engagements with Government, notably Office of the Prime Minister, Ministry of Trade, Lands, Environment, Mines and Energy (for mining opportunities) and the Namibia Investment Center. The consultative meetings took place in June 2014.
The Marula Game Ranch business case indicated that for the project to be commercially and environmental to be viable, it needed about 40 000 hectare to 44 000 hectare. The Business Case was presented to OPM, Ministry of Lands, Ministry of Trade as well as Namibia Investment Center.
The source further indicated that the conditions for the project to commence were to be presented to Cabinet, but the submission was never presented.
“Towards the end of 2017, the local media reported that another proposal from Comsar was presented to the Minister of Lands, which was subsequently presented to Cabinet in May 2018. Disgruntled officials who were not in support of this new deal indicated that the earlier proposal on Marula Game Ranch should have been supported by Government and not thus current deal unless there was underhand dealing,” explained the source.

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