AFRICAT NEWS

News 2014

Jango and AfriCat male Leopard

Guide Sightings Report Peak Season June - November 2014
SHANTI was the most popular leopard among guides and guests, with 160 sightings between June and November 2014, following in the footsteps of her famous mother MJ. Shanti is MJ's only cub from her fourth litter and was born in March 2013 in the Okonjima Nature Reserve. A year later, mother and daughter were seen apart more and more frequently. As a result, Shanti was collared in April 2014. Back then, at only 13 months old, Shanti had reached a weight of 32 kg, which equalled the weight of her 14 year old mother. Ever since then, Shanti (which means quiet, peace and tranquility in Sanskrit and is described as an 'unusual woman with a distinct personality') has roamed the ranges of the Okonjima Nature Reserve by herself and has become the favourite of the Okonjima guides.

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Penta, an AfriCat Cheetah.

Penta, Pins and Needle
Since her release into the Okonjima, 20 000 ha Nature Reserve more than a year ago on 4 June 2013, Penta has had it tough. She struggled to find water and food and to avoid predators, which were responsible for the loss of two of her five cubs in the first three weeks after their release. One was taken by a leopard and the other one unknown. This made us realize just how difficult it is for a cheetah to be relocated into a new area. It took her a good six months to settle in to her new environment with her remaining three cubs, two females and one male. In December 2013 she started making regular kills to feed all four of them and became very popular with our Okonjima guests going out on cheetah tracking.

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Tammy and students talk about lions

Report of Visit by Tammy Hoth-Hanssen, Director of AfriCat Namibia, to the UK October 2014.
It was wonderful that Tammy was able to visit the UK in October 2014 and AfriCat UK arranged a varied programme of activities talks, meetings and events, keeping her very busy! The Conservation through Education theme was brought to the UK as Tammy met with and talked to pupils from four different schools.

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Dizzy cheetah mother and cubs

Dizzy - A story about a rehabilitated cheetah mother!
Dizzy - a successfully rehabilitated AfriCat cheetah and first time mother in the Okonjima Nature Reserve, has raised her female cub Spirit to adulthood. And now she's done it again! In July 2014 Dizzy gave birth to her second litter - this time consisting of four little ones. Dizzy, whose territory has mainly been the north-western part of the 200 km2 Okonjima Nature Reserve, was seen in the south in mid-January 2013, mating with one of our male cheetahs, Bones. She returned, but on 10 April she was spotted in the south again and, lo and behold, six days later on 16 April 2013 she gave birth to three cubs. Our very first cheetah cubs in the Okonjima Nature Reserve!

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 wild dog pup

The Wild Dogs - Part 2:Team FIFA and The Wild Dog Management Plan 2014 / 2015
Our three 'painted dog' pups - Jogi, Messi and Robin from the Okakarara region, (approx 100km from AfriCat HQ), arrived at AfriCat on the evening of 14th of July 2014. We estimated their age between 5 to 6 weeks old. They were found abandoned and in poor condition, together with 6 other puppies that unfortunately were found dead by the time Jogi Messi and Robin were rescued. These 3 orphaned African Wild Dog puppies were handed over to the M.E.T (Ministry of Environment and Tourism), by the local community, who had found them after their pack had apparently been poisoned and shot.

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 african wild dogs in the okonjima nature reserve

The Wild Dogs - Part 1: Rex, Ruby, Ricky and Raine
In May 2005 seven 3-week-old wild dog puppies arrived at AfriCat. Rearing five of them to adulthood was a certainly a journey full of trials and tribulations - Sadly we lost two puppies quite early on, but RAINE, RICKY, RUBY, REX and RUFUS kept us on our toes. One thing that did astound us was the amazing bond the puppies had between them. Even though they were so tiny and there were no adult dogs in their small pack, they only needed us to supply the food . . . . and once that had disappeared (in a matter of milliseconds) they were quite happy with the company and companionship of each other for play and comfort.

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AfriCat visits the Uk. Chris Packam at the RGS London.

AfriCat Travels to the United Kingdom to raise funds for conservation.
It was wonderful that Tammy was able to visit the UK in October 2014 and AfriCat UK arranged a varied programme of activities talks, meetings and events, keeping her very busy! The Conservation Through Education theme was brought to the UK as Tammy met with and talked to pupils from four different schools. At another event, AfriCat supporters, old friends and new, met at the RGS in London to listen to Chris Packham, talk about his wildlife encounters and photography. Chris is a passionate wildlife expert, professional photographer, TV presenter and most importantly for us, AfriCat's patron.

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a cheetah seeing the dentist at AfriCat

Veterinary Dentistry is still a very young speciality
Animal welfare includes not only a lack of inflicted pain and stress, but also an adequate level of wellbeing, which includes good mental and physical health. Most would agree that animals have feelings like fear, frustration, boredom and aggression. It has been proposed that 'animal welfare' is rooted in feelings and that these have evolved to protect the animal's primary needs. Thus, if an animal feels well, it is faring well. A feelings-based approach to welfare research typically measures behavioural outcomes and behavioural signs of fear or frustration. Such research has led to the conclusion that animals have fundamental behavioural needs that they must be allowed to satisfy.

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male and female leopard getting ready to mate.

The AfriCat Predator Population Density Study in the Okonjima Nature Reserve
In the last decades human activities have led to the devastating destruction of large parts of natural habitats (Gaston, 2008) leading to the dramatic decrease and threatened status of many wildlife species worldwide. The leopard (Panthera pardus) is classified as "Near Threatened" according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (IUCN, 2014.2.). Leopards occur across wide ranges of sub-Saharan Africa as well as inhabit parts of Northern Africa and tropical Asia (Friedmann & Holzer, 2008). Their adaptability and tolerance towards a wide range of various habitats as well as their secretive and elusive nature had let them survive in marginal areas from which other felid have disappeared completely (IUCN, 2014.2). Despite their wide distribution throughout sub-Saharan Africa, the felids are declining dramatically in numbers and have disappeared from approximately 36.7% of their historical range (Ray et al. 2005) due to habitat fragmentation as well as intense persecution by humans.

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ute baby cheetah

AfriCat turns 21!
The Album: From Rescue & Release TO . . . Rehabilitation, Research, Conservation Through Education & Community Support! 'You've got the Key' . . . . is the well-known adage when someone comes of 'age', when parents nostalgically page through photo albums, reminiscing childhood memories and the 21-year old can't wait to take on LIFE . . . . armed only with family values and the will to succeed out there in the big world! For the past 21 years, AfriCat has been a toddler and a teen - stumbled, fallen and righted its self knowing that its parents, the HANSSEN family, were there to guide it to adulthood and beyond. As 'parents', we have, at times, worried and pondered AfriCat's future as a credible Conservation organization, having shifted from small beginnings as a farming family trying to find solutions to predator conflict on a small cattle farm in central Namibia, sharing our success-story with others, which included using our research data and common sense to find ways to 'live with predators', then becoming a safe-haven to a number of persecuted cheetah, leopard, caracal, spotted and brown hyaena as well as to lion and wild dog.

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AfriCat VIP donors wall

'Likes' don't save lives
Everything these days is about social media. It is indisputable that Facebook helps non-profit organizations reach out with their message, educate members about a specific cause and promote their work. Therefore, enormous amount of time and effort is spent, even by organizations with limited staff and budget, on social media as a marketing tool. The question is, how effective it? When it comes to actually helping the cause, what sort of impact does 'likes' on Facebook have? Not much, according to UNICEF, who in a recent YouTube commercial send a clear message: "Likes don't save lives. Money does."

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Big mama and lion cubs

The 2014 Annual AfriCat Health Checks
This year a team of specialists, mostly from UP, joined the normal AfriCat team to surgically sterilize the female cheetahs and leopards that are considered unsuitable for release into the wild. The Namibian government passed legislation requiring the irreversible sterilization of all female captive large felids in a bid to prevent the captive breeding and illegal trade of these species. Dr Marthinus Hartman, one of the surgeons at UP, had developed a minimally-invasive laparoscopic technique to sterilize captive lions in South Africa. With the specialized equipment provided by the German company – Karl Storz, the cheetahs and leopards could have their ovaries removed or fallopian tubes tied off in the same way, through a single tiny surgical incision. This would mean less trauma and pain and a far lower risk of any post-operative complications.

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Big mama and lion cubs

Hobatere Lion Research Project Update July 2014
The Namibia Large Carnivore Atlas (Ministry of Environment & Tourism, Large Carnivore Atlas 2012) estimates the Namibian population at 1113 – 1644 lions in three density distribution categories: low, medium and high. The Kunene and Etosha sub-populations are isolated from the Caprivi/Khaudom sub-population. The Hobatere Concession Area (hereafter referred to as Hobatere) lies adjacent to western Etosha, with the Hobatere lion population falling within the Etosha sub-population and in the medium to high density category.

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Needle and pins, sibling cheetahs

Guide Sightings Report Low Season January - June 2014
ELECTRA was the most popular leopard during our 'low' season this year which stretches from January until June. With a total of 124 sightings she was regularly spotted on the eastern side of the Okonjima Nature Reserve. She was seen on 21 kills, mainly - orxy, warthog and juvenile kudus. Electra gave birth to 2 cubs in August 2013. Unfortunately, the first-time-mother lost both cubs.

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2 lions in the Okonjima Nature Reserve

In Honour of World Lion Day
An Overview of the AFRICAT Communal Carnivore Conservation Programme (CCCP) Last year, we posed the question: "Does the Namibian lion stand a chance?" This year, I'd like to share with you the AfriCat programmes committed to ensuring that free-ranging lions survive alongside future generations of conservation-minded Namibians. Since its inception in the early 90's, AfriCat's mission has been to find workable solutions to the ever-present farmer-predator conflict on both free-hold and communal farmland. AfriCat North, our field-base situated along the south-western Etosha National Park boundary, is especially familiar with high livestock losses to lions leaving the confines of the Park and the unabated, retaliatory persecution of these and other carnivores.

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majestic male lion at AfriCat

World Lion Day - 10 August
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 I am convinced that the majority of Namibians would regret not having done more to ensure the lions' long-term survival. World Lion Day, to be celebrated globally on 10 August, is 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?

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leopard mother and cubs  in the Okonjima Nature Reserve

Electra - A first time mother
In August last year Electra, a female leopard, was found on more kills than usual. Even with a full belly she would still hunt. Was she perhaps feeding cubs? Electra was collared in the 20 000ha 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 got a chance to see her. It was only in January 2013, since found mating with TJ and Nkosi, that Electra started to relax at bit. It could have been because both these males were so comfortable around vehicles.

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The German ambassador

Support from Germany for the Namibia Wild Dog Project!
The German Development Cooperation and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation, Sponsor the Namibia Wild Dog Project! The German Ambassador, Mr Huekmann of BMZ (The German Development Cooperation & The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation & Development), handed over the donation of 10 motion detection cameras for the Namibia Wild Dog Project at AfriCat HQ in the Okonjima Nature Reserve.

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AfriCat Environmental Education weekend

AfriCat Foundation Environmental Education Programme 2014
We have discovered that for many Namibian children and adults, the AfriCat Environmental Education Programme is their first camping and outdoor educational experience. Few have had the opportunity to visit wildlife reserves, observe antelope and wild large carnivores, and to experience the natural wonder of their own country. Neither have they been introduced to the vocational opportunities which tourism visitation, hand-in-glove with conservation, offers. AfriCat has advocated environmental education since 1998.

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lion gaurdians in Namibia

AfriCat welcomes 4 new team members - Selma and Francois, Jackson and Kandavii!
After 2 years as Administrator at AfriCat, it sadly was time for Chris Moshosho to move on to new challenges in Windhoek, where he will also get the chance to be closer to his family. Chris was immensely popular at AfriCat, and an invaluable member of the team. He is already missed, and on his request we send regular updates on the cats at Okonjima & AfriCat. In January 2014, we welcomed Selma Amadhila to Team AfriCat.

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leopard mother and cub

Cat Sighting Stats in The Okonjima Nature Reserve:
OKONJIMA & AFRICAT had a very successful peak season and our guests had wonderful sightings of cheetah, wild dogs, hyaenas and of course of the 2 popular, leopard mothers with their cubs as well as rehabilitated Dizzy and her cub and rescued Penta and her 3 cubs. Leopards were still our most popular trail, but tracking rehabilitated carnivores that once lived a 'life in captivity', but are now hunting independently -  always touches the hearts of any animal lover. A total of 596 leopard sightings were recorded and the other carnivores added up to; cheetahs 461 sightings, wild dogs 18 sightings and hyaenas 16 sightings.

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pride of lions Namibia

The Hobatere Lion Research Project: reporting October 2013 - February 2014
The Hobatere Lion Research Project, which runs through the Communal Carnivore Conservation Programme (CCCP), aims to re-establish accurate current data on the demography of lions within The Hobatere Concession Area, which forms a corridor between the northwest and the Etosha National Park and surrounding areas. It will provide data on the movement of lions into and out of Hobatere and aims to quantify both the degree of human-lion conflict and the impact it has on people living around Hobatere. Driven by an increased food supply, the spatial expansion of lion in the conservancies of the north-western Kunene Region has increased. While numbers of certain large carnivores have remained stable or increased, numbers of lions have steadily declined. The disproportionate control of lion may be due to less tolerance of lion, driven by fear rather than actual negative impacts.

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baby warthog

The story of a Warthog . . . . A hog shaped hole in my heart.
Little did I know when our plane touched down on Namibian soil that I'd be returning to the UK, two weeks later, having fallen madly in love with . . . . a warthog! I first met 'Hick-Up' at the AfriCat office. There he was; just a few weeks old. Resembling a remote-controlled toy he zoomed over every available area of floor space on high-heeled trotters with his aerial-like tail held stiff in the air. With his head, accounting for almost 50% of his body, he was instantly adorable. Read More

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For more news stories and information please visit the AfriCat website: www.africat.org