AfriCat North’s work
Working with Communal Conservancies - An opportunity to transform livelihoods.
The importance of working with the communities who live alongside predators and suffer loss of livestock has perhaps not always been seen as crucial to long term sustainable populations of carnivores but is essential. Isolated populations in parks will not ensure the survival of endangered species in the wider eco systems. In the northwest around Kaross, most Conservancies rely on subsistence farming, herding goats and cattle. They live next to a National Park with healthy populations of lion, hyena, leopard and cheetah. The results are predictable. Unprotected livestock is picked off by predators and poor communities struggle. AfriCat works with the Communal Conservancies to build strong kraals (livestock enclosures) to protect animals, to encourage employment of herdsmen and to manage grazing to improve grass quality. The impact on these farmers’ lives from small changes in practice and assistance in the cost of protecting their animals can be transformational.
Within the Conservancy framework communities can gain direct benefit from, for example tourism, in their area. Additionally strategies based on applied research developed by AfriCat North such as employing local community famers as AfriCat lion guards and initiatives to improve local prosperity can benefit communities and help them to prosper alongside the carnivores. AfriCat is currently raising funds for a brick built school and education centre for a community committed to living alongside the lions.
Conservation through Education
From its inception AfriCat recognised the importance of education in the conservation of large carnivores including, commercial and community farmers, Namibians and overseas visitors. AfriCat has been running education programmes for young people since 1998. Small groups have been visiting Okonjima to take part in interactive teaching sessions where they explore the eco systems around them and learn about the interdependencies of fauna and flora. Many of these young people have never seen a carnivore and relish the opportunity to visit AfriCat where the ambassador cheetah, leopard and lions, who are unable to be released back into the wild, can be observed ‘up close’. The students learn about their behaviour and more specifically about their plight. Most young Namibians have never been to a wildlife reserve or National Park. However for those children brought up in the many of the conservancies where AfriCat North works, lions are a regular hazard to the livestock. Here the conservation message has a different feel but with the same goal of keeping the wildlife running free while allowing the communities around them to prosper.
AfriCat plans to improve the teaching program with the development of Adult Education, addressing farming practice, tourism and conservation. Future plans are for more educational visits to include the work at AfriCat North. Currently a number of school groups help out with a range of practical hands on projects.
One UK school group spent two days building a kraal as part of their trip and undertook lion watch sessions during the night checking up on the lions in the current study.
Onguta School Update - Funds raised for phase 1
This is just to say a very big thank you for your kind support in helping the Onguta school to become a reality by adopting a brick or two! We are delighted to have been able to get the funds together for phase 1 of the school so the project can get off the ground. The funds came from a very generous donation, legacies and the funds raised at last year’s charity dinner. It’s great news and there is lots of work happening ‘behind the scenes’ to get the work underway in the coming months. Hopefully we will have updated pictures for you in the New Year.
We thought you might like to see the plans for the whole project. Below is the general layout with the various buildings, playground, vegetable garden etc. for when it is complete, it will take a few years. . . We have just got phase 1 funding secured which are the classrooms - each set of classrooms has its battery / solar system (the pink areas near the school zone) and the ablutions, which may be downsized a bit in phase 1! The cylindrical structures around the perimeter are water tanks, which will be filled both with rain water and from the borehole , no running water systems as in the UK. One water tank has been donated and is in situ. Solar panels will be fitted onto most of the roofs, thus the roofs are angled (A-Frame) and the positioning of the buildings according to best use of the sun.
The architect constructions are extremely practical, make use of as much natural material as we would like, powered by solar and wind, water tanks in pertinent places (obviously raised for best pressure), maximum use of space under-roof, with innovative ideas such as the rounded classrooms, various levels and sections within one structure for maximum educational stimulation, etc.
The future phases include the teacher’s accommodation and the kitchen dining area with a vegetable patch. It will be a transformation from the current situation which you can see below. Yes you have guessed it we will be starting the fundraising for phase 2 . . .
The site of the proposed school taken in November 2016 with the plans for the new school complex and it really is going to make a huge difference!
Background to our Onguta School Appeal:
AfriCat urgently needs your help to build a ‘Lion’ School.
Good News the Adopt a Brick is going well but we do need to continue our efforts
Update February 2017
AfriCat North has received a very generous donation from Holland which is about 25% of the cost of phase 1. AfriCat Uk’s adopt a brick stands at 4% of the total, project money we have received from recent fundraising events will boost the total to around 50% of the need so we are making progress.
What could you do?
http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/africatadoptabrick and help this drought affected community to build their lives.
Location: Onguta Village, Ehirovipuka Conservancy, Kunene Region, north-west Namibia.
The Onguta Primary School, in the Ehirovipuka Conservancy, comprises of two tents as classrooms, (the third blew away in a recent gale) sand floors and a metal trunk for storage; extreme heat and dust makes for less than ideal learning conditions! Yet, the three teachers and community are dedicated and keen to educate their children as best they can. One teacher is trying to build a temporary structure in which to teach next term. The traditional leader is a conservationist, and an exemplary leader. His aim is to offer schooling to 150 primary aged children. He is committed to the AfriCat Livestock Protection Programme (LPP) and is instrumental in minimising the persecution of large carnivores in his area of jurisdiction.
The current school.
Tammy with Carey Widdows AfriCat UK Director and Trustee and teacher Miss Herunga discussing the situation.
The community has pledged to make bricks, they have located a site and started to clear the ground. They helped to dig the trench, across rough rocky sandy dusty ground, for the water pipes to a water tank donated by AfriCat. A Namibian Architect, who designs eco-friendly projects, has been approached to design the school in its entirety; local builders will be sourced to take on this project, under AfriCat’s supervision. Volunteer opportunities to help with the construction are being explored. A school playground was built by AfriCat in April 2015, materials donated by farmers and businesses (old tyres and metal poles), the painting and hard labour undertaken by 18 students of the Private School in Swakopmund.
AfriCat wants to support this pro-active community by developing a formal school. This work forms a part of AfriCat‘s Communal Carnivore Conservation Programme and Community Support Programme. We are very keen to create a better learning environment to help the children and adults in the community improve their education and thereby enhance their future prosperity in a sustainable way. AfriCat is committed to empowering farming communities in carnivore-conflict zones, to better manage and protect their livestock, to mitigate conflict and reduce carnivore persecution and has helped communal farming communities since 1997.
YOU CAN HELP BY:
To make a donation: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/africatadoptabrick
Running your own Fundraising event – do let us know so we can help with information, pictures etc . Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sharing this appeal with family and friends
Let’s make a real difference . . . .
AfriCat Research - a centre of expertise
AfriCat has been collecting data on all carnivores that pass through its’ hands since inception. Annual ‘vet checks’ on carnivores in the welfare unit give long term data on all aspects of health, and assist in veterinary training. Tracking carnivores in the reserve at Okonjima over many years has provided data on territories, carnivore interaction and hunting behaviour fundamental to the management of fenced wildlife communities.
AfriCat looks to strengthen the research capability to work with and benefit other conservation programs. Research and collaboration work between the local universities and Africat is underway.
Applied research has been fundamental to all the initiatives tried to help our conservation work. Ideas are often tested ‘in the field' and refined in light of evidence and experience. Things that seemed to help such as kraaling young animals to reduce livestock losses where then further refined. The current lion research project based in the Hobatare concession on the western Etosha border has provided valuable data for the local communities in terms of lion populations, locality and habits of moving in and out of a park.
To support the work of Africat North donations can be made here