Conservation at Okonjima in Namibia is not just about protecting animals, particularly the large carnivores: cheetah, leopard and lion at AfriCat (Okonjima’s charitable foundation) but is very much about the natural habitat.
The plains of central Namibia used to be the typical savannah plains that we associate with many parts of Africa. However, nowadays there has been an invasion of thick bush which is unnatural to this beautiful part of Namibia.
The reason that the vegetation has changed in this area is because it used to be a cattle farm, with extensive grazing, which meant that native species struggled to exist.
Put simply, this thick bush – the encroaching species of Acacia – needs to be removed and opened up into grassy savannah with scattered trees.
Wayne Hanssen, one of the founders of AfriCat, has started a huge project to conserve hundreds of acres of the Okonjima game reserve by removing the invasive acacia. This means that his team can manage the water flow in the wet seasons to ensure that the water flows slower, resulting in sediment being deposited. Along with manure and dung from the game, slowly but surely, it will form a topsoil that has been lost over the past 30 to 40 years.
The project has been ongoing and has resulted in the Oryx, giraffe, wildebeest and steenbok all prospering which then leads to their natural predators prospering as well. Having visited this area, it is a real oasis for the game. The mutual benefits are wide ranging from a natural environment and plenty of game to predators, tourism and education.
Conservation is not just about the animals and their natural habitat but also about education for tourists and local people alike, now and for future generations.
Okonjima the lodge supports AfriCat, the charitable foundation – a great partnership.