“Tusk Trust celebrated its 25 year anniversary last week with a dinner hosted by its patron, The Duke of Cambridge, at Windsor Castle. Donna Hanssen was honoured to attend on behalf of AfriCat, one of only two projects that Tusk support in Namibia.
Tusk Trust play a hugely important role at the AfriCat Foundation. Long term supporter and veterinarian, Dr Mark Jago recently wrote, ‘Over the years financial assistance has been provided from many quarters, but one of the most loyal and longest-standing partners, has been the Tusk Trust.
TUSK was one of AfriCat’s earliest supporters, whose assistance has included providing finance for an array of the Foundation’s projects including co-sponsoring the first electrified perimeter fence, which kick-started the Cheetah Rehabilitation Project in 1999/2000. TUSK was the first group outside of Okonjima that believed in the Foundation’s vision that an ‘orphaned’ cheetah might be able to learn how to hunt through trial and error, and then with support and time, hone the necessary skills to ultimately become independent. This programme began with an original 4500 hectares, an area which has subsequently been extended to around 20,000 hectares (200km²).
Since 2012, TUSK has been the main sponsor of AfriCat’s Environmental Education Programme, The EEP is proving to be an enormous success exposing young people from all walks of life to some of the major environmental and conservation challenges facing their generation. The programme is set to expand so that it can increase the number of learners who pass through their doors.
The challenges to predator conservation in Africa are large indeed, for as human populations continue to grow the land left over for wildlife shrinks almost daily. Namibia is not immune from this phenomenon and the conflict between humans and wildlife requires continuous managing. The country is being highly creative in attempting, wherever possible, to give wildlife a value, and to ensure that the rural Namibian who bears the cost of predators taking his livestock will, at the same time, reap some of the benefits through tourism and the like.
The work of the AfriCat Foundation naturally requires considerable funds, something which is not easy to find in today’s cash-strapped world. However, the Foundation and the world – class tourism destination known as Okonjima are joined at the hip. This truly remarkable model benefits both parties, providing a strong backbone for both which is able to flex its muscles in a symbiotic and exponential fashion.”