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History

okonjima and africat logos

The AfriCat story started in 1970 when the Hanssen family settled on the farm Okonjima in central Namibia. Brahman cattle were raised on the land but annual losses of calves to predators, particularly leopard, amounted to between 20 and 30 per year, decimating the herd and causing huge financial losses. As with many farmers at that time, the Hanssens embarked on a programme of trapping, shooting and hunting the leopards in an attempt to control their losses. However, these losses continued at the same rate as before. Other measures were called for and calf-holding pens were built at watering holes where cows could give birth safely. The calves remained in protective custody until they were approximately 4 months old, their mothers coming in at regular intervals to feed them. Employing these livestock protection methods reduced losses to about 3 or 4 per year.
Article: Keeping calves in kraals may not be detrimental to weight gain

 

Wayne, the only son, recognised the need for a better understanding between humans and carnivores. He began observing the leopards, becoming more familiar with their habits and movements. At the same time, the family started a small bed and breakfast business and tourists visited Okonjima. Wayne’s research had revealed where leopard could be found and he started to share his viewing experiences with the guests. Hunting ceased as more and more guests came to view the big cats at close quarters and Okonjima became a fast-growing, tourism enterprise.

 

Although separate entities, the relationship between Okonjima Nature Reserve, a business concern and AfriCat, a registered non-profit organisation, is one of symbiosis. In a nutshell, Okonjima owns and manages the land/nature reserve, and operates the tourism business, while AfriCat provides the unique selling point: the opportunity for guests and sponsors to view large carnivores in a natural environment, as well as the work of the Foundation. AfriCat in turn, receives an income from the revenue generated by tourism, which contributes to covering the running costs of the organisation as well as an opportunity to obtain additional income from visitors who are more conductive to donating funds, having witnessed the Foundation’s work with carnivores in Namibia.

The Okonjima Story: Our story in short ...

wayne and wahu

Wayne and Wahu

hanssen siblings

Hanssen siblings Rosalea Wayne Donna Tammy and Elvis

vj donna rosalea

VJ Donna and Rosalea

vj loading box trap

VJ loading a box trap during bad farming years

vj tammy wayne

VJ the Brahman farmer - Tammy and Wayne

wayne

Wayne making fire

 

 

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