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Projects

No matter what project methodology you choose, it will require you first and foremost to define the scope of the project. Through environmental education, research, sustainable living and carnivore rehabilitation – The AfriCat Foundation is committed to doing its part in the conservation of the ecosystems in which the carnivores of Africa play out their lives in what is truly a wild country.

 

AFRICAT | OKONJIMA NATURE RESERVE

 

PROJECTS FOR 2013/2014:

The AfriCat Environmental Education Programme

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The AfriCat Environmental Education programme is an enabler within the broader Namibian education system. Catering to a wide spectrum of ages and socio-economic backgrounds, AfriCat’s vision is to harness the rapt attention which learners embody when they visit AfriCat’s two centres into a deep-seated awareness of ALL environmental issues and, specifically in the Namibian context, those involving the vexed juxtaposition between farming communities and the country’s large carnivores.

See: The Africat Environmental Education Programme Page.

 

The AfriCat Communal Carnivore Conservation Programme

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Lion research around the Etosha National Park: The Communal Carnivore Conservation & Research Programme (hereafter CCCP) will effectively support farmers as well as ensure the protection of the wild lion along Etosha’s borders and elsewhere. In order to establish the effectiveness of relocating these trans-boundary lions as well as the long-term sustainability of conflict mitigation practices, a research project has been developed.

Post Rescue Lions: The AfriCat – Etosha Transboundary Lion Project aims at monitoring the movements of collared perpetrators, in the hope that they will not return to the farms where they were caught. The outcome of this project will provide valuable data as to whether all lions leaving the Etosha Park to feast on livestock become habitual stock-raiders or whether some only 'occasionally' cross these borders, returning to their home-ranges thereafter.

Read more: Radio Collars for lions.

 

Rehabilitating Captive Cheetahs and the success rate of Rehabilitation:

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AfriCat Carnivore Research:

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Our Annual health checks: For a number of years, specialist veterinarians have been invited to share their expertise or to contribute to valuable research during our annual health-checks. Veterinary specialists in the fields of dentistry, ophthalmology, gastro-enterology, and reproduction are also consulted to give input to the health assessments and perform various procedures which may be required.

 

Namibian Wild Dog Project:

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The selected study site (Mangetti Cattle Ranch and Mangetti National Park) is situated in the Kavango Region along the boundary between commercial farmland and Kavango communal farmland, to the east of the Etosha National Park. The study area includes about 40 farms and covers approximately 200 000 hectares, where wild dog packs are regularly sighted and farmer-predator conflict threatens their long-term survival.

This is the first collaborative effort between 3 NGO’S; AfriCat, N’aankuse and Namibian Nature Foundation (NNF) Wild Dog Project commenced in February 2013.

See: The Namibia Wild Dog Research Project.

 

The AfriCat Hobatere Lion Project:

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We are at present conducting a study of the Lion (Panthera leo) population within the Hobatere Concession Area and movements between the Hobatere Concession Area, western Etosha National Park and adjacent communal farmland.

See: The AfriCat Hobatere Lion Research Project

 

The AfriCat Predator Population Density Study in the Okonjima Nature Reserve:

Leopard Collaring
Filmed by Wild Dog Productions Pty.

 

Mafana, a large male leopard in the Okonjima Game Reserve, was always eluding rangers who needed to put a collar on him.

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Phase 1:

Goal: To assess the density and population size of leopards (Panthera pardus) in the Okonjima Nature Reserve using photographic capture-recapture sampling and provide scientific data on their demography as well as spatial and temporal distribution patterns.

 

Study Objectives

  1. To determine leopard density and population size via a capture-recapture framework using remote camera traps
  2. To determine the demography of leopards within the Okonjima Nature Reserve
  3. To develop a dataset that can be applied as a baseline for comparisons to similar areas
  4. To develop a long-term population monitoring program


Study Area

study area map

 

Fig. 2: The Okonjima Nature Reserve located in central Namibia compromises a total area of 22 000 ha. Okonjima is home to The AfriCat Foundation whose mission is the long-term survival of Namibia’s carnivores in their natural habitat.

 

The Okonjima Nature Reserve (Lat/Lon: 20º49’19.36’’S, 16º38’21.25’’E) is located in central Namibia approximately 50 km south of Otjiwarongo and compromises a total area of 22 000 ha. The study area is semi-arid and characterized by a marked seasonality. The annual precipitation averages approximately 450 mm. The Okonjima farm boundary traces a central plateau, at average an altitude of 1 600 meters, surrounded by the Omboroko Mountains. The vegetation can be mainly described as tree- and scrub savannah, interspersed with Yellow wood (Terminalia sericea) and several Acacia-species. Artificially constructed water reservoirs ensure the perennial supply of surface water.

Okonjima was used intensively for the purpose of cattle farming from 1920 until 1993. Since then the private nature reserve has been used for carnivore rehabilitation and tourism purposes exclusively.

The reserve is surrounded by a 96 km electrified perimeter fence, completed in 2010, and is bordered entirely by commercial farmland. An additional fence is erected within the reserve and creates a 20 000 ha reserve for carnivore rehabilitation and a 2 000 ha “lodge area” that includes lodges and campsites as well as the AfriCat headquarters and the Environmental Education Centre.

Leopards as well as brown hyenas (Hyena brunnae) occur naturally within the borders while cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus), African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) and spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) are part of AfriCat’s rehabilitation program that have been released into the area.


Phase 2: The AfriCat Predator and Prey Population Density Study in the Okonjima Nature Reserve:

 

 

Researching Leopard & Hyaenas in the 200km² Okonjima Nature Reserve: Our dream is to turn the 200 km² Okonjima Nature Reserve, which was recently denuded farmland, back to its original natural state, last seen perhaps 200 years ago. This dream must be sustainable and a benefit to local communities for it to survive the tides of change in Africa. Researching carnivores on Okonjima and on communal and commercial farmland - particularly cheetahs, lions, leopards and brown hyaenas – will help future farming communities and reduce the numbers of predators killed on farmland. AfriCat wants to offers practical solutions to the farmer-carnivore conflict.

 

De-bushing the Okonjima Reserve:

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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.

 

Wildtracks and why we want to help:

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Wildtracks and AfriCat’s primary interest is in using footprints to monitor endangered and elusive species. Using the Wildtracks Footprint Identification Technique (FIT) we are starting to identify individuals, and sometimes also their age and sex. Monitoring endangered species is central to successful conservation.

Take the cheetah as an example. Unless we have accurate figures for the numbers of cheetah in Namibia, and where they are, it’s very difficult to implement a successful conservation strategy. The Okonjima & AfriCat Teams are collecting footprints from cheetah, leopard and brown hyena in the first instance, from which Wildtracks will form a reference database for these species.
FIT will then be able to monitor these species on site, using footprints.

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