Chris Packham with a pangolin

The enthusiasm of the team at Okonjima, Namibia never ceases to amaze

The enthusiasm of the team at Okonjima and AfriCat is not only infectious but is also completely immersed in the animals and you cannot help but become engrossed in the stories that are told.

Chris Packham, BBC presenter, is a great fan of Namibia and particularly Okonjima game reserve, having visited five times and is a patron of the Okonjima charitable foundation AfriCat. He has recently reported on the most elusive of creatures – the pangolin. His natural enthusiasm shines through as he describes his encounter with a pangolin at Okonjima.

Chris Packham at Okonjima, Namibia, with a pangolin
Chris Packham at Okonjima, Namibia, with a pangolin

Chris describes the pangolin in these terms; “one of the most remarkable animals you will find anywhere in the world”. It’s a unique mammal with a heavily scaled body for protection from predators and when in danger it will roll into a virtually impenetrable ball. Chris has been waiting a lifetime to see one and describes seeing one in the daytime as “an unbelievable treat, what an amazing thing that is”.

Mj, the leopard. On safari, Okonjima, Namibia
Mj, the leopard. On safari, Okonjima, Namibia

There is another story that was reported from Okonjima a few days ago. One of the leopards that AfriCat has rehabilitated is called MJ, a mother of two grown-up cubs – Bwana and Ishara. She was seen by guests on a safari early one morning ‘staking out’ an abandoned aardvark hole that was occupied by a family of warthogs.

Leopards are incredibly patient and will freeze, not moving an inch for minute after minute, waiting for the perfect moment. The guests witnessed this unique event and watched for some time before moving off and leaving MJ to continue her vigil.

MJ the Leopard stalking warthog Okonjima Namibia

Later that afternoon one of the experienced Okonjima guides saw MJ with one of the young warthogs – a successful hunt and kill.

The next day MJ was sighted looking for her cubs in the hills and then later with her 18 month old cub Bwana. She took him to the warthog and invited him to share the kill.

Even though Bwana can look after himself, the team described this as “a unique Okonjima experience…MJ is still a brilliant mother”.

This enthusiasm for the animals and the Okonjima game reserve, Namibia, its environment and the stories that happen has me completely enraptured.

Mark Cadbury


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