News 2018

 unam vet students learning at AfriCat

Veterinary Students from UNAM visit AfriCat
School of Veterinary Medicine (SoVM) 3rd Year Students visit the Okonjima Nature Reserve and the AfriCat Foundation. The Veterinary Faculty of the University of Namibia (UNAM) is now in its 5th year of existence. Every year, according to their curriculum, the students have to be exposed, shown, learn and perform certain veterinary procedural skills. All skills are inline with required 'Day-1 competency' expected from a newly qualified veterinarian. The AfriCat Foundation with its associated Veterinary Clinic is proud to be involved and associated with the SoVM. Last year we hosted three different classes to UNAM's 3rd & 4th year students. This year the 3rd year veterinary students were exposed to wildlife work, all in line with the compulsory curriculum section.

 female leopard in the Okonjima Nature Reserve Namibia

Electra - A Leopard's Story So far
Electra was collared in the 20,000 ha Okonjima Nature Reserve on 7 May 2010, for tracking and research purposes. In the beginning she was skittish, shy of people and cars, and the guides hardly ever saw her. It was only in January 2013, since found mating with TJ and Nkosi, that Electra started to relax a bit. It could have been because both these males were so comfortable around vehicles. Leopards don’t have a defined birthing season and litters can arrive at any point during the year, although mating is more likely to occur in the months of January and February, which means that leopard litters typically arrive between April and May, as their gestation period is between 90 and 112 days.

 brown hyena in the okonjima nature reserve

'Behavioural ecology and management-induced niche shift of brown hyena in a closed reserve; implications for conservation management.'
Closed reserves are an increasingly common wildlife management strategy across southern Africa. They represent a practical solution to separate wildlife from surrounding human communities, thereby protecting both sides from threats such as human-wildlife conflict. However, the often small size of such reserves means they can represent a threat to the survival of species within them when natural processes such as emigration, immigrations and expansions of ranges are prohibited. This may ultimately lead to inbreeding depression and at an extreme level, local extinction. Additionally, opportunities for spatial partitioning of potentially competing species may be limited, which may influence the community structure within the enclosed area, as well as the spatial organisation and activity patterns of subordinate species. As a result, wildlife populations living in closed reserves require close monitoring and management to ensure their long-term survival, and that conservation intentions are successful.

 Nambian students cheetah watching as part of their environmental education visit at AfriCat

The AfriCat Environmental Education Report Jan - Dec 2017
The AfriCat Environmental Education Programme at Okonjima had a busy 2017, during which we interacted with nearly 600 learners, students and teachers. This included hosting Namibian primary and secondary learners at the Centre, as well a number of UNAM-initiated groups for practical training at the AfriCat Environmental Education Campsite. We also had visits from a number of international schools and colleges from the USA, UK, Poland and Italy, as well as a group of teachers from the Perivoli Schools from across Namibia. We had some significant staff changes in the AfriCat Environmental Education Programme during 2017. Johan Viljoen joined the EE Team as Environmental Educator, while Mrs. Helen Newmarch, Head of Education, took up the role of training Okonjima Lodge guides. To add to our successes during 2017, we have great plans to widen our potential impact in the future.

 walk 4 wildlife Uk

Walk 4 Wildlife
Three intrepid AfriCat supporters braved the elements and took part in the Walk 4 Wildlife 2017 Night Walk in the New Forest that began at 10pm on Saturday evening 28th October and went through to 6am on Sunday morning. That was the time that it took to complete the 20 miles through England's newest National Park. Georgina, Andrea and Janet at the beginning of their 20 mile walk. The three were all raising money for AfriCat. Andrea and Janet had both grown up in the New Forest and felt it was the natural place for them to take part in the Walk 4 Wildlife 2017. Walk 4 Wildlife 2017 organised a number of events throughout the country for wildlife charities to raise money and publicity for them.

 The Saltpan cheetahs at AfriCat

AfriCat's Cheetahs - The Saltpans
In November 2013, two young orphaned cheetahs were found and rescued from the saltpans on the outskirts of Swakopmund. Locals detected the young cheetahs and instantly informed Swakopmund’s resident veterinarians Dr Rodenwoldt (AfriCat’s resident vet) and Dr Winterbach. The cubs were no older than six to seven months and were severely dehydrated and malnourished. After 24 hours of intensive care and observation, both cats were back on their feet and started eating and drinking on their own again. The AfriCat Foundation was contacted for assistance. After a further three days, the orphaned siblings were collected and transported to the AfriCat Headquarters where they were released into a small holding enclosure for the first few days to facilitate monitoring.

 cheetah at AfriCat

AfriCat's Cheetahs - The Masters
Dash, Ruff and Tumble first came to AfriCat in 2008 at the age of one month and lived at AfriCat’s Carnivore Care Centre for the following four years. In 2012 the sibling trio was released into Okonjima’s 20 000 ha nature reserve together with their coalition mates Dizzy and Baxter. Their rehabilitation process seemed promising in the beginning, as they started to hunt almost immediately after their release. After Baxter was killed not long after the release and Dizzy decided to lead a solitary life, the remaining trio only had sporadic hunting success and eventually became sedentary along the eastern boundary fence where game is sparse. After six months of limited movement and minimal hunting success, the decision was made to take Dash, Ruff and Tumble back to AfriCat’s Care Centre in December 2012 where they would act as educational ambassadors for their wild counter parts. The group was called 'The Masters' due to their advanced age and in recognition of their work as "educationalists".

group of cheetahs at AfriCat Namibia

AfriCat's Cheetahs - The Aeroplanes
The Aeroplane coalition – consisting of three males, Sniper, Spitfire and Quattro and their sister Hurricane – was released from the AfriCat Carnivore Care Centre into the 20 000 ha Okonjima Nature Reserve at the beginning of December 2016. Spitfire and his sister Hurricane came to AfriCat in 2009 when they were about three months old. After their mother was shot, the two cubs were caught by a farmer, where they stayed for the following three weeks before AfriCat was contacted for assistance. Quattro was seven months old when he was hit by a car. The crash resulted in severe concussion and a broken leg. His front left leg was broken in four different places and needed to be pinned and plated in the Rhino Park Veterinary Clinic in Windhoek. After his major surgery, Quattro recovered from his injuries at AfriCat in a limited space enclosure to ensure that the bone could heal properly.

The metabolic profiling of cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus): A systems biology approach to understanding the chronic diseases they suffer in captivity
In captivity, cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) are known to suffer from several chronic diseases that do not occur in their wild-living counterparts. These include lymphoplasmacytic gastritis, glomerulosclerosis, renal amyloidosis, veno-occlusive disease of the liver, adrenal hyperplasia and several ill-defined neurological disorders. Many factors have been proposed as possibly being the cause of this phenomenon – factors such as stress, lack of exercise, low genetic variability and the provision of unnatural diets in captive facilities - but to date convincing pathophysiological explanations for these diseases have been lacking or unsatisfactory. Doctor Adrian Tordiffe investigated this problem using a systems biology approach – in other words, he attempted to understand as many of the components of the cheeatah’s metabolic system as possible.