News 2013

In honour of World Lion Day. Can you imagine Namibia without Lions, if we had lost all of our lions to persecution, illegal trade and unsustainable off-take? Some farmers might say good riddance, others may be indifferent, but we are convinced that the majority of Namibians would regret not having done more to ensure the lions' long-term survival.

World Lion Day, was celebrated globally on 10 August 2013, and presented the perfect opportunity for the world to take note of the plight of the African Lion, for us all to take the time to ponder the reality of today's pressures on wildlife and the wilderness sustaining these wondrous animals who have, to date, stood the test of time - but for how long will they be able to run from Man? As Namibians, we should take this quote by Sir Winston Churchill to heart: "I was not the lion, but it fell upon me to give the lion's roar". Tammy Hoth, Director Of AfriCat Foundation, 2013

africat clinic

2013 AfriCat Annual Health Check - Best Time to Visit Okonjima!
The 2013 annual health checks on the large cats at AfriCat kicked off on the 25th of June this year under the direction of Dr Adrian Tordiffe from the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa.

To most Okonjima guests and staff it is the highlight of the year as they get the opportunity to get up close and personal with anaesthetised carnivores. The procedures involved range from taking blood samples to carrying a sleeping cheetah into a recovery box crate and everyone has a role to play. This year's AfriCat Health checks were undertaken in our brand new, 'tourist-friendly' and very spacious clinic which allowed us to give each and every animal a thorough examination this year.



Cat Sighting Stats in The Okonjima Nature Reserve.
This report records the total number of carnivore sightings in the reserve from 1 May to 31 July 2013. A total of 276 leopard sightings was recorded, which include the majority of resident, territorial leopards present in the reserve. The remaining sightings of the carnivores that are part of the rehabilitation project totalled 213. These included the cheetah, hyaena and wild dogs.


cheetah Penta and cubs

Cheetah & Cubs Released Into The Okonjima Nature Reserve - The Quandary Of Rescue & Release!
Since her rescue, everyone at AfriCat and beyond has been keeping a keen eye on this new mother and her cubs. Penta and her 5 cubs were most intriguing as cubs have never been released with their mother and monitored at AfriCat before. Her progress has stunned all involved in her rescue, including the farmer who contacted AfriCat. Following this cheetah family since their release, has been the highlight of many an Okonjima guest, but also clearly indicated that the removal of cheetah from one area and placing them in another, far away from where they originated, is not always in the best interest of the animals concerned.


environmental education programme

AfriCats Environmental Education Programme: Conservation Through Education!
The AfriCat's Environmental Education (EE) Programme continues to grow from strength to strength since its rejuvenation and the employment of a permanent Environmental Educator early this year, sponsored by TUSK UK, Prince William's chosen conservation Trust.

The number of visits from both local and international schools and conservation clubs has shot up in the last few months and the EE Team still gets regular enquiries, which has kept the team very much on their toes. Here is a bi-annual report on the latest happenings at the AfriCat EE Centre.


sprinting cheetah

AfriCat Makes International Headlines!
A collaborative study by the University of the Witwatersrand, SA, the University of western Australia and the AfriCat Foundation, together have debunked one of the most prevalent myths in animal biology, proving cheetahs don't abandon hunts because they overheat. According to new research, the fastest land animal on Earth depends on more than speed to catch its prey.

In order to successfully hunt, cheetahs need to be genetically strong, able to slam on the brakes, turn quickly and stay fit. For superb athletes, cheetahs are surprisingly poor hunters with up to 60% of hunts ending in failure. In a race over 100m, a cheetah would beat Husain Bolt by 60 meters and easily could outsprint any antelope. So what happens in a real hunt?


contraception in wildlife

Contraception In Wildlife:
Contraception of cats at AfriCat has always been at the forefront of health check events in keeping with Namibian law on captive carnivores. However, it is a different matter when considering the value of contraception for free roaming wild animals. Whilst potentially controversial, contraception can offer some value to conservation by allowing professionals to minimise unsustainable explosions of wildlife populations.


leopard Mj

MJ - The legendary Leopard
Brunch and dinner table conversations at the Okonjima lodges are often about one of the most loved leopards resident in the Okonjima Nature Reserve – MJ. MJ was born in the Okonjima Nature Reserve 14 years ago and as an older cat she is very well known and has an incredible tolerance to vehicles and excited guests. She is very photogenic and stats show her being only second to a younger female, Electra, also resident in the Nature Reserve. We decided to afford her an article in this news section.


drought in Namibia

Drought, A Natural Cycle, But For Farmers it is About Survival Not Conservation.
Namibia is known as the 'dry country'! For at least a decade (2000-2010), most regions were blessed with regular if not above-average rainfall, providing much-needed relief, also increasing herd numbers in the hope that these weather patterns would remain. The good years also supported the survival of greater numbers of wildlife throughout Namibia, with large herds of zebra and oryx roaming even the remote, arid regions. Few had planned for the dry spell which has hit large areas in 2012 and continued into 2013. Conservation groups throughout the country are concerned that their efforts to guide and support communal conservancies into living with wildlife, especially increasing tolerance of large carnivores through education and improved livestock protection methods, will lose ground.


namibian lion

A Namibia Without Lions?
Namibia's wild lion numbers range from between 600 – 800. Despite the low numbers, the status of the Namibian lion is regarded by many as 'healthy' – after at least 10 years of above-average rainfall in most parts of Namibia, as well as valuable data collected by researchers it is believed that lion numbers and their distribution have increased in some regions. The Etosha lion population is assumed to be one of only a few FIV-free populations in Africa. Persecution of lions by farmers has, however, continued unabated and with the first drought in years becoming a reality, livestock losses will be even less tolerated and more lions will be destroyed. The AfriCat Foundation, with bases in central and northern Namibia, believes that there is still time for Namibia's lions, if we make a concerted, National effort.


In honour of World Earth Day – A message we all need to listen to: "The survival of our wildlife is a matter of grave concern to all of us in Africa. These wild creatures amid the wild places they inhabit are not only important as a source of wonder and inspiration, but are an integral part of our natural resources and our future livelihood and well being. In accepting the trusteeship of our wildlife we solemnly declare that we will do everything in our power to make sure that our children's grand-children will be able to enjoy this rich and precious inheritance. The conservation of wildlife and wild places calls for specialist knowledge, trained manpower and money, and we look to other nations to co-operate with us in this important task — the success or failure of which not only affects the continent of Africa but the rest of the world as well." Julius K. Nyerere, Arusha Manifesto, 1961

cheetah cubs

First Cheetah Cubs Born In The Okonjima Nature Reserve!
Four weeks after the release in 2012, Dizzy broke away from the coalition. Female cheetahs are solitary by nature and a few weeks later Dash also broke away from the remaining males, Ruff and Tumble. Dizzy returned north thereafter, but on 10 April 2013 she was spotted again in the south and, lo and behold, 6 days later on 16 April 2013 she gave birth to three cubs! Our very first cheetah cubs in the Okonjima Nature Reserve!


Chris Packham

Chris Packham Supports AfriCat.
As a wildlife enthusiast I am constantly concerned by the struggle we face in the battle to roll back the negative impacts that humans make on the world's natural heritage. We are all aware of those horrific images of shark finning, tiger poaching, and savagely de-horned rhino corpses which point firmly to an impending extinction scenario for these and so many other species. The survival prognosis for many of the world's natural treasures is frighteningly grim. I am pleased to be an ardent advocate of the AfriCat Foundation and pleased to be its patron indeed. I have an enormous passion for AfriCat's mission to ensure the long-term conservation of Namibia's large carnivores.


leopard in the Okonjima Nature Reserve

Rescue & Release – Does It Work?
These are just some of the factors which need to be considered when the cheetah or other predator has been trapped by a farmer, believing it to be a threat to his livestock. It is because it has become evident that the removing of predators from one area and placing them in another, far away from where they originate in many cases, is not in the best interest of the animals concerned, that AfriCat has moved away from its original "Rescue and Release" programme to one of "Rescuing" predators through working with farmers and helping them to find alternative solutions within the conflict zone. It is in this way that there is the greatest chance of man and beast continuing to live side by side in the years to come.


cheetah eyes

AfriCat's Footprint In The United Kingdom.
The AfriCat Foundation in Namibia has worked tirelessly since 1993 to save the lives of Namibia's large carnivores and work towards their long term conservation. AfriCat has an increasingly dynamic social media presence through its 3 active Facebook pages and 1 Twitter account. These pages are updated almost daily and are a fountain of information on AfriCat, its Environmental Education Programme and its symbiosis with Okonjima Lodge. We have always valued the huge support we receive from UK donors and have had the great pleasure of welcoming many of them to AfriCat and Okonjima. We welcome any questions concerning our projects and strategies and their impact on conservation. This is our passion and our purpose!


taking blood from a cheetah

A New Approach to Disease Research In Cheetahs.
At AfriCat There are about 8 to 12 thousand cheetahs left in the wild and an estimated 1 400 in captivity worldwide. The captive cheetah therefore makes up a significant proportion of the total world population and is becoming increasingly important as numbers in the wild continue to decline. The more we can do to improve the health of both wild and captive cheetahs, particularly in terms of prevention of chronic diseases, the better it is for the survival of the species as a whole.


AfriCat North Lions

AfriCat North Lions Go South.
The decision to close the AfriCat North Lion Sanctuary on Farm Kaross came when the farm was sold at the end of 2012. AfriCat North's new base will soon be established, with the ever-increasing pressures to find workable solutions to the farmer-predator conflict, to escalate lion research and monitoring programmes as well as to continue Environmental Education outreach in Namibia's communal conservancies. We decided that our 4 lions and 1 leopard would join the other 'ambassadors' at AfriCat's Carnivore Care Centre on Okonjima.


Tusk Trust UK

Conservation in Namibia - The Daily Telegraph Visits AfriCat.
DAILY TELEGRAPH March 2013 Nigel Richardson joins Charlie Mayhew, the founder of Tusk Trust, for a closer look at his wildlife conservation projects in the safari camps of Namibia. By Nigel Richardson. At the AfriCat Foundation, the challenge is how to enable humans and big cats to live peaceably alongside each other – an especially vexatious question in a country with a quarter of the world's cheetah population, of which 90 per cent live on farmland and are automatically perceived as a threat to cattle. AfriCat, and the safari business that supports it, Okonjima, are run by the charismatic Hanssen family – a sort of khaki Swiss Family Robinson, bursting with good looks and conviction.


giraffe at the waterhole

Technology: Conservation And Counter - Conservation.
Technology has come a long way over the last couple of decades. Appearing to progress at an ever increasing rate, it is hard to keep abreast of the latest advances in mobile phones, laptops, cameras or TVs. Not only are new products being developed but, the application of these products in a growing number of fields and scenarios is escalating, with surprising uses and innovative problem solving visible in perhaps unlikely places. Within the conservation sphere, certain technologies have enabled the protection of animals to become much more efficient and accessible. Using GPS data, geographical information systems (GIS) and motion-sensitive cameras (amongst others) effective methods of tracking, monitoring and data analysis are now used which save on time, man power and therefore money.


Namibian Wild Dog

Namibia Wild Dog Research Project.
The proposed Namibia Wild Dog Research Project Proposal was submitted to the Ministry of Environment & Tourism (MET) end 2010 for the necessary permission and is the first collaborative effort between the Namibia Nature Foundation (NNF), the N/a'an ku se and AfriCat Foundations. Reports show a decrease in persecution and rather calling the Wardens to assist with carnivores. This reiterates the importance of the Namibia Wild Dog Project: Human-Wildlife Conflict is rife and if we are to secure the long term survival of these rare and endangered species, we have to ACT NOW and not wait any longer.


AfriCat's environmental education programme

AfriCat Environmental Education Programme – 2013 And Beyond!
For the past 3 years most of the Environmental Education has been fairly slow and irregular due to the lack of funding as well as a permanent Environmental Educator. During the last quarter of 2012, AfriCat was able to secure funding via TUSK Trust. Thanks to TUSK for a permanent Environmental Educator! This enabled us to start up again and so the AfriCat Environmental Education Programme is back on track! Since March we have had the pleasure of hosting 3 consecutive Environmental Education camps.


Spots support community kraal building

Spots! Supporting Community Conservation.
Simone Eckhard, founder of Stichting SPOTS and passionate conservationist, spent the Easter weekend in the drought-stricken communal farmlands of Namibia's northwest, happy to see the fruits of her fund-raising efforts standing proudly as a large community kraal (boma) for the protection of livestock from marauding predators, especially lions. SPOTS supports the conservation of all cats of the 'spotted kind', encouraging the general public, corporates and Zoos in the Netherlands, to donate to this cause.


Tongs the cheetah

AfriCat/Okonjima Cheetah Rehab Success.
With their leader gone, Coco and Spud struggled for a while, but Spud has now started hunting well and the two are doing fine. As of February, Bones has now rejoined his Siblings, but he still has the urge to wander. We can only guess at this point. Time will tell, as we are trying to learn more and understand these beautiful cats. But, whatever the information we glean, these Siblings are solid proof that you can rehabilitate a genetically strong, captive Cheetah!


AfriCat Day Centre

Supporting AfriCat DAY CENTRE UPDATES.
From 11 Aug 2012, to date we have had 851 guests visiting our new AfriCat Day Centre. Our top supporting countries are Germany, followed by Switzerland and then the United Kingdom. Most of our visitors found our DAY CENTRE on the Okonjima website. Others have heard about us through word of mouth, from their local Tour Operator and we have also been recommended by our neighbours and neighbouring lodges. The infamous, 'Flying Cheetah' at our B1 turn-off has also got many curious visitors off the road and into our 20 000ha private Nature Reserve. THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING AFRICAT!!


"As a challenging year draws to a close, we reflect on how AfriCat has contributed to the conservation and protection of our carnivores. Have we reached our goals, have we succeeded in making a significant difference?

Lions were rescued from certain death off farmland adjacent to Etosha; the same lions were recently seen with a heavily pregnant female in a park west of Etosha, their new territory. Leopards were collared and released in non-conflict zones and a farmer agrees to the release of a conflict leopard in her original home range; AfriCat monitors her whereabouts regularly; Cheetah female and cubs cage-trapped by a farmer and AfriCat is called for assistance and advice; these wild-caught cheetah have been released in the Okonjima 20 000 ha Nature Reserve, with a good chance of survival. A female Aardwolf and her small pups are monitored at her den-site via trail camera; a population density study will commence in 2013.

Human-Wildlife Conflict Mitigation makes inroads on communal farmland with farmers supporting AfriCat's lion research and monitoring programme as well as adopting improved livestock protection methods, reducing the numbers of livestock killed and increasing tolerance of lions.

Environmental and Mainstream Education programmes create conservation awareness amongst the Youth. Despite some setbacks, AfriCat continues to encourage greater tolerance towards carnivores and supports farming communities in Namibia's wilderness areas." Tammy Hoth-Hanssen, Director Of The AfriCat Foundation

cheetah tracking

Cat Sighting Stats in The Okonjima Nature Reserve:
This report records the total number of carnivore sightings in the Okonjima Nature Reserve from 1 August to 31 November 2012. A total of 544 leopard sightings were recorded, making up the majority of the carnivores seen in the private Reserve. The rest of the carnivores that are part of the AfriCat rehabilitation project, added up to 422. These included rehabilitated captive cheetahs, hyena and wild dogs.


AfriCat Day Centre

Welcome To AfriCat's Day, Carnivore Care & Information Centre.
Tourism funds and supports the majority of AfriCat's education and conservation work! Day-Visitors will now be able to observe some of this programme's work and learn more about these endangered animals! On 9th August 2012, the doors opened to a brand new Day Centre, built to attract those guests driving past Okonjima. Pop in for lunch, have a swim and visit the AfriCat Information Centre to see a cheetah or two and hopefully find the motivation to become involved by supporting AfriCat's work.


people and wildlife solutions

Paws 4 Thought - As We Say Good-Bye.
AfriCat's volunteer project, PAWS (People And Wildlife Solutions), was founded in 2008 to provide a volunteering opportunity to those who felt they wanted to get involved in helping AfriCat. Reluctantly, the project has had to close and has ended a four year roller-coaster ride of excitement, conservation experiences, bush clearing, fence ripping and monitoring carnivores on foot in the Okonjima Nature Reserve.


adopt a spot for conservation

The current world economic climate is such that people feel that charitable giving is a luxury. In the light of this pinch, we decided to be more creative and invent another way in which donors could help AfriCat, one spot at a time! Adopt-A-Spot at AfriCat is a fun way to donate money for the work we do. The more people adopting spots, the more spots will be added to the leopard and cheetah and symbolically, donors would be helping Namibia's wild cats get their spots back.


Helen Newmarch

Introducing Mrs. Helen Newmarch.
AfriCat's three Environmental Education Programmes have been growing from strength to strength since starting in 2001. The Education programmes are run from 2 bases, the Okonjima Nature Reserve and the AfriCat North Base. We've had schools visit our Education Centre to learn more about nature, but the time came when we needed to bring in new skill to head this particular project. As the PAWS Volunteer Project has now closed, their facilities will be used for tertiary education training camps. These will mainly be for guides (training or assessments), teachers, and a basic course for game guard, conservatory scouts and University of Namibia (UNAM) students. The success of AfriCat's Education Programme is vital as that is what we believe will change the attitude of the Namibian towards the large carnivore, to ensure its long-term survival.


Tusk Trust Uk

The Tusk Trust & Daily Telegraph Join AfriCat.
The Tusk Trust continues to support AfriCat - The Daily Telegraph joined TUSK'S CEO, Charlie Mayhew on their recent visit to catch up with AfriCat's environmental programme.


checking carnivore teeth

When Finally Approved For Rehabilitation – One Important Criterion Always Takes Top Priority – 'How Healthy Are Their Teeth?'
Within a big cat's mouth, three different types of teeth all work together to enable a rapid eating style. The large, pointed teeth called the canines or the 'eye' teeth or fangs, are designed for gripping and holding and helps the cat suffocate its prey. Cheetahs' canines, although effective, are smaller compared to those of other big cats, because everything about these cats is designed to enhance their amazing running speed.


kraal building

The AfriCat CCCP Livestock Protection Programme: The First Kraal Goes Up.
Ehirovipuka means 'land of wildlife' in the Otjiherero language and in order to better protect this wildlife, which includes lions and other predators. AfriCat North recently began building the first lion-proof livestock kraal at Otjenova, a farming community approximately 10 km from the western boundary of the Etosha National Park. These farmers suffer livestock losses when lions leave the safety of the park in search of easy prey.


rehabilitated cheetahs at AfriCat

Mixed Success: Baxter, Ruff, Tumble, Dizzy and Dash.
AfriCat's mission is to ensure the long term survival of Namibia's large carnivore. The Rehabilitation Programme is becoming more and more important for young, healthy and fit cheetahs to be released into Okonjima's 20000 hectare Private Nature Reserve and to have another chance of being successful in the wild. A group of five cheetahs were given a chance in June 2012, as research continues to determine factors influencing the success and/or failure of cheetah rehabilitation.


fence repairs

AfriCat's Communal Carnivore Conservation Programme (CCCP).
Observations have shown that lions leave the confines of Etosha and Hobatere through the porous boundary fence, either through the extensive elephant breaks and warthog holes or by clambering between the sections of weak, rusted mesh and steel wire strands.


rio tinto supports africat

Rio Tinto Supports AfriCat!
AfriCat would like to thank RIO TINTO / RÖSSING URANIUM MINE for donating used, cleaned conveyor belts to the value of N$25 000 and HOCH AND TIEFF for transporting them to AfriCat. They have provided a valuable opportunity for us to create a better and healthier environment for our cheetahs.

'Rössing Uranium Limited aims to be a leader in environmental stewardship and to maintain our reputation as a responsible corporate citizen in Namibia. One of our goals is to achieve a Net Positive Impact by end of life of mine. We are therefore committed to ensuring that biodiversity within the larger spatial context benefits from our presence. This commitment means that all our activities and actions focus on minimising negative impacts on biodiversity, particularly on threatened and endemic species. It also means maximising positive impacts, such as proactively pursuing opportunities for conservation of fauna and flora. Working with the AfriCat Foundation provides us with such an opportunity, as our donation directly supports the conservation of big carnivores. We find this cooperation particularly rewarding as the cheetah population in Namibia is the biggest in the world. Rössing Uranium Limited also strives to foster lasting and mutual beneficial relationships with our communities, making The AfriCat Foundation with its commitment to make a significant contribution to conservation through education, a fitting partner.'


cheetah, leopard, wild dogs at AfriCat

A Word From The Chairman.
'2012 was a transformative year for the AfriCat Foundation – a "game-changer" in so many ways. AfriCat is forging ahead strongly, with renewed energy and a clear direction, to implement its long-term vision. AfriCat has identified new opportunities to expand its founding principles of conservation, education, and research, which augment the long-established welfare programme.

A huge emphasis of AfriCat in 2013 shall be education, which fundamentally underpins the long-term public appreciation and understanding of Namibia's unique natural heritage. AfriCat is generously supported by TUSK Trust to resume its Environmental Education activities, through the funding of an educator for the AfriCat Outreach programme. Through this, thousands of school children will be exposed to the work of the AfriCat Foundation. 2013 shall also see AfriCat strive to establish new research facilities and to create formal linkages with teaching institutions in Namibia and abroad – research is a critical area in which AfriCat has much to offer the scientific community, as well as providing opportunities for practical experience to local tertiary and vocational students. AfriCat's research focus shall be on increasing the understanding of the relationship between predators and their environment in order to facilitate conservation efforts of the Namibian Government, AfriCat, other like-minded institutions, and the wider conservation community. 2012 saw AfriCat benefit from several bequests and legacies from a number of long-term AfriCat supporters who remembered the work of the Foundation in their wills. Their humbling generosity has enabled the Foundation to set about achieving its wider goals. To maintain AfriCat's momentum to effect sustainable change, we continue to rely on the enormous goodwill and generosity of supporters – the raising of further funding will permit AfriCat to accelerate its achievement of long-term goals which will serve to expand its conservation role in Namibia. In this regard, I thank you for your past support and urge you to kindly continue your steadfast support of the AfriCat Foundation in 2013.' Mark Reinecke, Chairman Of The AfriCat Foundation.


Over the years AfriCat and the valuable conservation programmes we run have been kept alive by donations and sponsorships from those who believe in the work we do. This has ranged from used items that AfriCat found useful to cash donations to help with the building of a brand new, spacious AfriCat Care Centre Clinic.

May 2013 saw the building of our new clinic in keeping with Government regulations and in preparation for our Annual Health & Dental events. In June/July 2013 Team AfriCat, with the help of veterinary professionals and volunteers were able to successfully undertake the Health & Dental checks on free-roaming and all captive animals in the care of the Foundation, making full use of the new clinic since its completion.

The AfriCat Foundation would like to thank the following sponsors and donors for their support and for contributing to AfriCat's mission and the bigger conservation picture. Towards the new clinic:

  • Jimmy Maltman Legacy
  • African Catering Supplies
  • Plascon PG Glass Swakopmund
  • Refrigair Otjiwarongo
  • Dr. Steenkamp donated surgical equipment
  • Sarah Cullen

Anel and Peet Du Toit from Windhoek have supported AfriCat since they sought refuge for a young leopard they had rescued as a cub in 2003. Anel & Peet write:

"We've always had a passion to work with and care for animals. Our lives changed when we rescued a lone female leopard cub we named Shakira, in the wild. Very soon she was all grown up and we started to look for a more long-term home for her. We contacted AfriCat to arrange a visit. We could sense the love for animals that we shared with everyone at AfriCat and were astounded by their knowledge of animal care. We brought Shakira to AfriCat and we continue to help AfriCat with her upkeep. We are confident with the passion show by everyone at AfriCat. We still enjoy visiting Shakira and we vowed to do everything we can to help AfriCat's fundraising initiatives to further its mission."

The AfriCat Foundation would like to thank the following sponsors and donors for their support and for contributing to AfriCat's mission and the bigger conservation picture.

Towards the Health & Dental Checks 2013:

The AfriCat Foundation would like to thank the following sponsors and donors for their support and for contributing to AfriCat's mission and the bigger conservation picture.

Towards the daily runnings of the Foundation:

AfriCat sponsors