Based on Okonjima's 22 000 ha private nature reserve, www.okonjima.com, 50 kilometers south of Otjiwarongo in central Namibia, 10km off the B1. The AfriCat Foundation was founded in the early 90’s and formally registered as a non-profit organisation in August 1993. AfriCat has since grown significantly and what started out primarily as a welfare organisation has over the years identified the need to include a focus on education and research as being essential to accomplishing our mission - the long-term conservation of Namibia’s large carnivores.
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!
Monitoring AfriCat's Rehabilitated Cheetahs
FLIMED & EDITED BY ITV - © ITV 2010 - Tracking & Monitoring Rehabilitated Carnivores: Besides giving the cheetahs & other rehabilitated carnivores a chance to return to the wild, the 20 000ha Okonjima, Private Nature Reserve provides orphaned cheetahs & wild dogs with the opportunity to hone their hunting skills and become self-sustaining. The success of this project provides other substantial benefits:
It gives us the opportunity to assess whether rehabilitation is a successful means of conserving an endangered population and it also allows for the number of cheetahs in captivity to be reduced.
The AfriCat Foundation was established in 1991 on the farm Okonjima, central Namibia. Initially, a welfare organization who has rescued a number of large carnivores from irate livestock farmers, releasing those healthy enough to fend for themselves and housing others too injured to be released. AfriCat has since initiated various programmes to ensure the long-term survival of these species: Environmental Education, Research, Human-Wildlife Conflict and Community support.
The ultimate goal is to use this 'handkerchief sanctuary' (a description for island-bound conservation used in the book 'An Arid Eden' by Garth Owen-Smith, director of the NGO, IRDNC) as a model for what this area looked like about 200 years ago, before it was influenced by cattle farming, and use this primarily as an education programme for the next generation.
Okonjima's New 20 000 Hectare Reserve
'Conservation Through Education' – guiding the children and young adults of Namibia to gain a new sense of understanding for the natural world and the importance of wildlife conservation.
AfriCat provides environmental education programmes for the youth and farmers of Namibia by, guiding them towards a greater understanding of the natural world and the importance of wildlife conservation.
The programme has already reached over 40 000 children and young adults at the two education centres and through the Outreach Programmes. (AfriCat on Okonjima & AfriCat north based nr Etosha National Park).
Okonjima and AfriCat are committed to their ideal of contributing to long-term conservation through education. The 3 main aspects of our "Conservation Through Education" program are as follow:
Large Carnivore Research - particularly concerning Cheetahs, Leopards and Brown Hyaena on commercial and communal farmland and in the 200sq km (50 000 acre) (20 000 ha) Okonjima Nature Reserve.
AfriCat supports an ongoing collaboration with researchers, scientists and the conservation authorities by working closely with farming communities. The Okonjima Nature Reserve and the AfriCat Carnivore Care Centre both allow for valuable research to take place in support of the long-term conservation of Namibia’s predators.
To create awareness and promote tolerance of large carnivores amongst the farming community, by advising farmers on effective carnivore compatible, farming techniques.
AfriCat supports commercial (free-hold) and the communal farming communities of central Namibia, in dealing with human/wildlife conflict issues and predator intrusion. In general, instead of predator removal as a method of conflict mitigation, AfriCat now offers commercial farmers a variety of effective farm-management techniques to better protect their livestock. We also encourage the use of herdsman to protect livestock during the day and manage grazing in a more sustainable way. These measures significantly reduce the loss of livestock, boosting the income of communities. In this way, farmers are encouraged to become predator tolerant and most of the resident predators remain in place.
Rehabilitation – giving previously, non-releasable large carnivores an opportunity to hone their hunting skills, become self-sustaining and return to their natural environment.
The AfriCat Foundation & Okonjima provide an environment for captive carnivores to hone their hunting skills in a 20 000 ha (50 000acre) (200km²), nature reserve on Okonjima. This programme also supports constructive research within our nature reserve.
AfriCat North’s mission is to mitigate human-wildlife conflict thereby reducing poverty, to keep lions in their natural habitat, to prevent the exploitation and inhumane treatment of lions and to ensure that captive populations are well cared for.
AfriCat North, also supports commercial (free-hold) and the communal farming communities of northern Namibia, specifically those bordering the Etosha National Park, in dealing with human/wildlife conflict issues and predator intrusion. In general, instead of predator removal as a method of conflict mitigation North’s main objective is to offer farmers a variety of effective farm-management techniques to better protect their livestock. AfriCat North funds and construct robust ‘kraals’ for protection at night and early morning, when 80% of predator-livestock encounters take place. This northern project, also encourage the use of herdsman to protect livestock during the day and manage grazing in a more sustainable way. These measures significantly reduce the loss of livestock, boosting the income of communities.
Read More: AfriCat North
Rescue & Release - AfriCat works closely with communal and commercial livestock farmers, trying to assist in dealing with human/wildlife conflict issues and predator intrusion. In general, instead of predator removal as a method of conflict mitigation, AfriCat’s main objective is to offer farmers a variety of effective farm-management techniques to better protect their livestock.
Since 1993 AfriCat has rescued over 1080 cheetahs and leopards on Namibian farmland.
Over 86% of these animals have been returned to the wild.
AfriCat and other registered carnivore organisations have unfortunately become the dumping ground for carnivores accused of killing livestock. We have 'saved' their lives, but 'removed' them from their territories, thereby failing in our primary objective, which we had set out to achieve back in 1992 . . . . not to remove the predators from their home ranges. We have rescued and saved the lives of more than a thousand animals from farmland, of which 86% have been released back onto commercial farmland, but this time into new territories, belonging to others!
In their new 'territories' they need to either fight for their new home or run the 'gauntlet’ of the farmers' traps and guns, back to their former territory.
We are therefore uncertain as to how many of the released carnivores survive this re-location beyond one year!
Once funds are available, carnivores will be released back onto farm-land ONLY when we can link this release to a research project including a group of neighbouring farms, hereby creating a larger 'SAFE' area for the newly released carnivores. This will enable AfriCat to monitor their post-release movements and adaptability.
In this way, AfriCat and other non-governmental organisation that support the conservation of Namibia’s large carnivores, will be able to establish the effectiveness and long-term sustainability of their Rescue & Release, Rehabilitation and Relocation Programmes.
[The AfriCat Lion RESCUE & RELEASE programme still continues.]