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Annual health check

Each year, the AfriCat Team including our supporting Veterinarian Dr. Mark Jago, successfully undertake a Health Check on the resident cheetah, leopard & wild dog at our Carnivore Care Centre based on Okonjima. The lions of the AfriCat North Care Centre undergo a similar health check in June.

dr gerhard steenkampdr henk bertschinger

During these few important days the veterinarians keep the whole operation running smoothly - by adeptly anaesthetising nervous individuals, thoroughly examining each carnivore whilst administering a drip preventing dehydration, keenly offering information to the enthusiastic visitor who may have come to AfriCat specially for this once-in-a-lifetime experience, to see one of the Big Cats close enough to touch!

Read More: Annual Health Check
Read More: Annual Dental Check

adrian tordiffe leoparddental2africat operating theatreblood urine testing  

Previous Health Checks:

Health Check 2013
Health Check 2014
Health Check 2015


Last Updated on Friday, 12 May 2017 01:57

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De-Bushing on OKONJIMA

Over the past hundred years, commercial farming has probably caused the most damage to Namibia’s natural habitat. Due to over grazing and controlled natural fires, certain bush species were able to get the upper hand and resulted in the majority of Namibia’s open plains becoming thorny thickets.

Wayne demonstrates bush encroachment problem cyclops the cheetah

On Okonjima we are trying to reclaim the grass-land and turn it back to what it looked like before man interfered. The two main bush species causing encroachment in our area are the Blackthorn (Acacia mellifera) and Sicklebush (Dichrostachys cinerea). The problem is that in the areas where these two species have taken over, it also causes an imbalance in the ratio of grasses to bush and in turn, a decrease in the biodiversity of the Reserve. 

The Cheetah’s preferred habitat is open plains. Here, their speed and binocular vision give them the advantage over their prey and competitors. In areas where the bush has become too thick, the cheetah is suddenly at a disadvantage. Other predators, like leopards, can very easily sneak up and kill a cheetah as the cheetah cannot see the other cat approaching. Also, it forces the cheetah to hunt in areas which are typical leopard habitat.

So, on Okonjima where AfriCat is trying to rehabilitate captive cheetahs, the issue of bush encroachment is a major priority. The aim for the Reserve is to create more open plains which then might create natural habitat boundaries between the different predators, where cheetahs should stay more in the open plains and the leopards more around the riverine thickets. But then again, this is only a theory.

diggers for clearing bush clearing bush by handcheetah in the long grasscheetah in the long grass


Mechanical removal of bush is preferred. Where there are fewer or no good grasses amongst the encroached bush, this is the faster and more productive way of clearing invader bush. The down-side is that the machines can cause a lot of damage to the soil as they can take out many of the remaining grasses as well as the bush. In areas where the invasive woody species represent more than 90% of the flora, Mechanical removal of bush is the best option. Being able to clear 7 ha per day will enable you to open up large areas in a relatively short period of time, but at a cost of N$ 2,500.00 per day, it can become a very expensive operation.


The labour-intensive, 'hand-method' is a preferred means to clearing invader bush especially in areas where selective de-bushing is needed;   high grass cover must not be disturbed and it’s a method of creating employment for many Namibians. Although this method takes a very long time, the impact on the land is much less. 


To recap – the first stage of clearing the bush in the Okonjima Reserve is mechanical or by hand.
The second stage is controlling the re-growth by hand.
The third stage is going back to Mother Nature’s way, i.e. controlled fires at the right time of the year. But, by this time we hope to have enough combustible material (plus minus 2500kg/ha), i.e. much higher density of grass/ha to induce a hot burn every 8 to 10 years, to control the re-growth.


Ultimately, we are hoping to have the reserve’s habitat in such a condition that it can be divided into thirds: one third being open plains, one third being woodlands and then one third to be left as riverine thickets. This will be no easy task and at the moment we are working on a 10-year plan. Even though one might have cleared an area before, one will have to come back to the same area again in 2 – 3 years, to take out bush that has grown again. During this time we will be using more controlled burning as this will also promote the natural growth cycle of the new grasses.

The next couple of years are going to be a tough fight, but at the end we are certain that we will be able to win the fight against bush encroachment. The result will hold positive benefits to both fauna and flora within the Reserve.  If you think about it, humans caused the problem . . . It is our duty to rectify it!


AfriCat founder, Wayne Hanssen talks 'Grassland-science'!
FILMED AND EDITED BY ITV, UK - © itv 2010. Taking Care of the Land: Wayne Hanssen leads the Okonjima team in a tourism venture that offers their guests 'authenticity' and 'luxury'. Funds are used for 'conservation', 'environmental education' and 'social responsibility'.
HIS PASSION: Is grassland science.
HIS DREAM: To turn Okonjima's 55 000acres of Nature Reserve into what it once looked like, before man destroyed it due to a lack of understanding the fragile nature of our environment.
HIS WISH: Is for the next generation that hold the future of this land in their hands, to learn from our mistakes and to 'BE the change they wish to see' in this beautiful country, Namibia!



Last Updated on Friday, 15 November 2013 01:50

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Okonjima Reserve goes live

2011 saw the historical installation of 8 Vivotek Cameras across the new 200km² Okonjima Nature Reserve, of which 2 of them are portable, which means that they can be set up at a main game-trail, a fresh kill or active den, etc. 
The other 5 cameras are placed at waterholes or natural dams.
The cameras are all connected to the main server at Main Camp; from there, the image or video-feed is sent to our 3 main lodges, Main Camp, Bush Camp & The Villa. Each one has a 32" Flat screen mounted in the lounge area of the camp’s Lapa, for our guests to view. (PAWS will invest in their screen and live video-feed when they re-open in 2012!) 
Our guests have free access to the various videos, with a few clicks of a mouse - they can enlarge or select different cameras to view.
The cameras are all fitted with infrared flood-lights; this enables us to see all the nocturnal activity! This entertainment will become even more interesting once a portable camera is set up at a bait or a kill.
The cameras all have an input and output function, which means we can record sound via a microphone; this will be set up at the kill or bait sights. We can also trigger a latch, e.g. Close the door of a cage-trap, enabling us to select exactly which animal we wish to capture; with the push of a button, the door will close. This will allow us to immediately immobilize the animal, which reduces the stress levels significantly – thus, it will not have to spend the whole night in a cage- trap!!
Every second of video footage is recorded, enabling us to rewind and check what went on during the night. 
This technology will help us with game counts as well as effectively simplify gathering reliable research data, such as identifying known and unknown individuals (carnivores or other), monitor interaction between individuals (eg. between territorial males, adults and mature off-spring, between various species at kills, etc) - in essence, lots to learn and experience...
OKONJIMA, keeping one step ahead!

Last Updated on Friday, 15 November 2013 01:52

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Radio Collars for Lions

male lion with kill africat north tending lions


The Project: 
AfriCat North Research Project: Trans-boundary movements along the boundaries of the Etosha National Park (hereafter ENP) and in adjacent conservancies.     

The frequency of lions crossing the ENP boundary and the formation of independent populations outside of the park are not known. This study will monitor trans-boundary lion movement to determine how the conflict between lions and the farmers along these boundaries could be minimised. 

This Project will be coordinated by the AfriCat / Okorusu Communal Carnivore Conservation Project Units (CCCP). Individuals found outside of ENP boundaries will be collared using GPS collars. The movement of these lions will be monitored and data will be used to locate weaknesses in the fence. The pride dynamics along the Etosha boundary will also be studied.

Details: (courtesy Africa Wildlife Tracking)
These Satellite collars have a built-in VHF transmitter, which work with the Iridium satellites and gives near-real-time data.
The unit gets a current GPS position and transmits that point up to the satellite system.
The Iridium satellite constellation consists of 66 satellites that orbit the earth over the poles in 6 equidistant orbits, each orbit containing 11 satellites.

Location Based Alerts: Geo fence areas can be defined for specific tracking devices. Alerts can be triggered when a specific tracking device enters and/or leaves the defined areas. Alerts can be delivered via SMS or email. This feature, which will enable the CCCP to improve the monitoring of lion movement in relation to villages and livestock kraals, is another advantage of near-real-time data up-linking. 

Total cost per GPS Collar + Service Fee, landed in Namibia: N$ 25 000.00 

africat north map



sirtrack logo


Pinnacle Range Iridium Pre-Set Data Schedules
and Collar Life Estimates.


  • Sirtrack Pinnacle GPS Iridium Collars are designed to be simple to use and set up.
  • For simplicity and ease of use pre-set data schedules (or configurations) have been determined which can have sensors (temperature and activity) enabled or disabled (location only).
  • Pre-set data schedule allows simple estimation of collar life and data costs.
  • Collar life and data cost will be affected by alerts received from and commands sent to the collar.

Pinnacle Range Iridium Data Pricing

Iridium Data charges are managed through an Iridium Value Added Reseller (VAR).

Sirtrack has chosen Xeos Technologies Limited ( as their preferred VAR.

Customers have the option to choose:

  • their own VAR,
  • work Direct with Xeos Technologies,
  • or pre-purchase data from Sirtrack.

Sirtrack offer two types of data plans for users of Pinnacle GPS Iridium Collars



GPS Plus Collar

gps plus collar


The GPS PLUS Collar series has been designed to give scientists the most flexible solution and reliable technology for all kinds of wildlife studies. Make the best of your study by measuring GPS positions, fine scale temperature and high resolution activity information.

One of the most important features is the flexible wireless data communication in both directions, offering communication on demand via VHf or UHF or regular communication windows via GSM or Iridium. This way you can change GPS and VHF beacon schedules when your research schedule changes, even while the collar is on the animal. GPS data can also be downloaded using Globalstar or ARGOS. GPS PLUS collars also offer Virtual Fence and Proximity Sensor options, giving you even more insights into the animals life and allowing you to change GPS schedules automatically whenever high scale information really counts.


gps plus collarsMultiple Communication Options

  • UHF 2-Way Communication for data download and reprogramming
  • VHF 2-Way Communication for data download and reprogramming
  • GSM 2-Way Communication for GPS data download and reprogramming
  • Iridium 2-Way Communication for GPS data download and reprogramming
  • Globalstar 1-Way Communication for GPS data download
  • Argos 1-Way Communication for GPS data download

Multiple Sensor Options

  • GPS Position
  • 3-axes Activity Sensor (acceleration)
  • Temperature
  • Mortality
  • Hibernation
  • Proximity Sensor
  • Virtual Fence

Additional Options

  • VHF Beacon Transmitter
  • Timer-controlled Drop-Off
  • Radio-and-timer-controlled Drop-Off
  • Coloured Belt


Product technical spec sheets:


Read more:
1. GPS Plus Collar Overview (PDF)
2. GPS Plus 2010 Collar (PDF)
3. GPS Plus Software and Data Manager (PDF)

radio collars for lionsradio collars for lionsradio collars for lionsradio collars for lionsradio collars for lionsradio collars for lions


Last Updated on Thursday, 19 May 2016 03:15

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