As sustainable development and conservation of earth’s limited, but valuable resources become ever more urgent – SO IS THE SYNERGY BETWEEN CONSERVATION AND TOURISM BECOMING MORE APPARENT! The symbiotic relationship which exists between The AfriCat Foundation and the Okonjima Nature Reserve is imperative – without education, research and the mitigation of farmer-predator conflict throughout Namibia, the essential conservation of large carnivores would falter . . . and without the substantial financial support offered by our foreign visitors, who stay in the OKONJIMA lodges, neither would survive!
The 22 000 ha (55 000 acres), Okonjima Nature Reserve:
The 96 kilometre fence surrounding the 22 000 ha Okonjima private, Nature Reserve was finally completed in 2010. This fence has created:
- a 20 000 ha reserve for Captive Carnivore rehabilitation (also home to Brown Hyaenas and the resident Leopards);
- a 2000 ha ‘safe’ area around Plains Camp, Bush Camp, Bush Suite, the Omboroko Campsite and the PAWS Environmental Education Centre.
Although hunting is instinctive in carnivores, many of the cheetahs at AFRICAT lack experience due to being orphaned or removed from the wild at an early age. This inexperience, as well as their conditioning to captivity, makes them unsuitable for release. The 200km (20 000ha) NATURE RESERVE | PARK, provides captive cheetahs and other carnivores with the opportunity to hone their hunting skills and become self-sustaining and thereby giving them a chance to return to the wild. The captive cheetahs are fitted with radio-collars prior to their release into the reserve, so that their welfare and progress can be closely monitored.
Rehabilitation gives a captive carnivore a second chance to be released back into the wild and to take the time it needs, to become a completely independent hunter – in a protected area right in the middle of commercial farmland!
Based on Okonjima’s 22 000 ha private, Nature Reserve, 50 kilometers south of Otjiwarongo in central Namibia, the AfriCat Foundation was founded in the early 90’s and formally registered as a non-profit organisation in August 1993. AfriCat has since grown significantly and what started out primarily as a welfare organisation has over the years identified the need to include a focus on education and research as being essential to accomplishing our mission – the long-term conservation of Namibia’s large carnivores.
AFRICAT FOUNDATION’S MISSION IS TO MAKE A SIGNIFICANT CONTRIBUTION TO CONSERVATION THROUGH EDUCATION.
We will continue to strive towards the long term survival of Namibia’s predators in their natural habitat.
We aim to achieve this by working with commercial farmers, local communities, communal conservancies, any stakeholders, and the youth of Namibia.
AfriCat supports environmental education at all ages and levels of education, rehabilitation programmes, provides solutions to human-wildlife conflict issues and conducts constructive wildlife research.
R E H A B I L I T A T I O N
AfriCat provides an environment for previously non-releasable large carnivores to hone their hunting skills in a 20 000-hectare (50 000 acre) (200km²) nature reserve, on Okonjima. Carnivores learn to become self-sustaining which gives them the opportunity to return to their natural environment.
This programme also supports constructive research.
Read more: Programs:Rehabilitation
H U M A N – WI L D L I F E C O N F L I C T M I T I G A T I O N
& C O M M U N I T Y S U P P O R T
AfriCat supports commercial (free-hold) and the communal farming communities of northern Namibia, specifically those bordering the Etosha National Park, in dealing with human/wildlife conflict issues and predator intrusion. In general, instead of predator removal as a method of conflict mitigation, AfriCat offers farmers a variety of effective farm-management techniques to better protect their livestock. We fund and construct robust ‘kraals’ for protection at night and early morning, when 80% of predator-livestock encounters take place. We also encourage the use of herdsman to protect livestock during the day and manage grazing in a more sustainable way. These measures significantly reduce the loss of livestock, boosting the income of communities and therefore resulting in fewer instances of carnivores being shot, trapped or poisoned.
In this way, farmers are encouraged to become predator tolerant and most of the resident predators remain in place.
Read more: Human Wildlife Conflict
E D U C A T I O N
AfriCat provides Environmental Education programmes for the youth and farmers of Namibia by guiding them towards a greater understanding of the natural world and the importance of wildlife conservation. This programme will cover wildlife and sustainability, with a focus on the plight of the carnivores.
The AfriCat Environmental Education Programmes, has already reached over 25 000 children and young adults at the two Education Centres (AfriCat on Okonjima & AfriCat north, bordering Etosha National Park) and through the Outreach Programmes.
Okonjima and AfriCat are committed to their ideal of contributing to long-term Conservation Through Education. The 3 main aspects of our “Conservation Through Education” program are as follow:
- PERIVOLI OKONJIMA COUNTRY SCHOOL (Kindergarten – Grade 4). This school aims to provide the best possible introductory schooling, with a strong environmental bias, for our resident children. This will facilitate their integration into a bigger main stream school after grade 4 with a sound foundation in environmental awareness.
Read more: The Perivoli Okonjima Country School
- THE ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CAMP where visiting secondary school groups participate in an intensive environmental awareness program. “Ultimately conservation is about people. If you don’t have sustainable development around wildlife parks – then the people will have no interest in them and the parks will not survive.” Nelson MandelaOur main objective is to promote predator and environmental awareness among Namibian youth.After many years of working with the farming community it became clear that youth education was vital to the long-term conservation of large carnivores.The AfriCat Environmental Education Programme aims to inform and empower Namibia’s youth about large carnivores, conservation and the Namibian environment. Read more: Environmental Education
- THE ADULT EDUCATION PROGRAMME– We teach young people and farmers the livestock management techniques tried and tested in our Community Support & Conflict Mitigation programmes, where the broader economic benefits are evident. This programme currently has two main aspects:
- Firstly the continued work with both commercial and communal farms to co-exist with resident predators.
- Secondly we are working towards using our 20 000ha / 200km² Nature Reserve as a classroom for tertiary students at all levels; especially future farmers, teachers and decision makers. Furthermore the Nature Reserve is used to gather a wide range of data for current and future research which will ultimately contribute to the conservation of Namibia’s predators. Read more: Adult Education
R E S E A R C H
AfriCat supports an ongoing collaboration with researchers, scientists and the conservation authorities by working closely with farming communities, allowing for constructive research to take place in support of the long-term conservation of Namibia’s predators.
Read more: Research
C A R N I V O R E C A R E
AfriCat provides a home, food and care for young, orphaned or injured animals until they can be rehabilitated and released back into the wild.
Only 10% of all the carnivores AfriCat has rescued – are with us on Okonjima and are cared for by the AFRICAT CARNIVORE CARE PROGRAMME.
Read more: Carnivore Care