"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 MANDELA
3 decades of hard work - this beautiful Nature Reserve is the focus of all our research and rehabilitation efforts. It is a self-sustaining eco system, unique in Namibia, which has provided so much valuable behavioral and scientific insight over the years. We have achieved so much, and the knowledge we have harvested, be it on our big cats or grazers or pangolins or hyaenas or rhinos, has contributed to considerable understanding of these threatened species.
Now, we need help! Whilst Covid-19 has taken a terrible and very public human toll, the effects on wildlife are yet to be played out. Some stories out there have referenced that Covid-19 has allowed nature to regenerate itself - but these are not our findings. With income from AfriCat supporters and Okonjima guests at near nil, our world has turned upside down.
For the first time ‘the habitat and home’ of AfriCat - is under present threat.
The AfriCat Foundation needs your help again, to protect what has been built up in the last 28-30 years, the all-important ‘habitat’ for the animals out there, for the animals that you’ve come to see, for the ones that we love and you love and you know by name and the pictures that you’ve taken and taken home with you.
We are threatened like never before – after Covid-19 struck, we have limited staff, no resources and limited equipment.
This translates into not being able to protect this environment.
We have no means to continue even basic veterinarian care – and now research also needs to wind down without grants and donor support.
And the most heart-breaking issue – rising poaching across the country. Everything is being poached – at the moment, mainly for food.
It is all tragic, and we understand donor fatigue and the myriad causes which all have merit, but here we stand, asking you humbly for a lifeline for these animals, at least for a few months.
Please if you can, we will stretch every penny for the sake of the Reserve.
Thank you, thank you.
We are a team of volunteers who predominantly support and raise awareness of two organizations in Namibia that are working to help conserve endangered species and the large carnivores. As a registered UK charity our vision statement is "Conservation, Environmental Education, Research and Community Enhancement". Our goal is to support the work in Namibia which includes research programmes that are then utilised to help the species concerned, education programmes to spread the conservation message and practical support to local communities.
On this website you will be able to find out about
The Namibian charities are
The Namibian Lion Trust (formally AfriCat North) is dedicated to Panthera Leo. It is committed to the long-term conservation of lions working with local communities to reduce human wildlife conflict. It has developed a range of practical strategies that includes education, research and livestock management techniques and support. It is based on the western borders of Etosha National Park with Hobatere Lodge offering a place to stay locally.
With the current really desperate situation in the drought stricken communal areas you can support the local farmers and the lions by helping the appeal for funds to help collar lions to protect them through the Namibian Lion Trust virgin money giving page. Details of the need for collaring lions for conservation here.
The AfriCat Foundation is based at Okonjima Lodge, a private, 200km² nature reserve. It is committed to the long-term conservation of Namibia’s wildlife, through several research programmes and an Environmental Education Programme. Its' mission is to make a significant contribution to conservation through research and education. It is well positioned as a start or end point of a trip to Namibia in the central highlands.
Developed in conjunction with Expert Africa explaining the impact the lack of tourism is having on conservation projects such as AfriCat.
Guided by Martin at Okonjima, experience first hand what it is like to approach a crash of rhinoceroses on foot.
Scheduled broadcasts will be:
Mondays, Wednesday & Fridays 16h00 CAT
A joint production by Ultimate Safaris and Travel Channel Namibia.
PLEASE SUBSCRIBE TO OUR CHANNELS TO FOLLOW THIS CONSERVATION STORY here:
ULTIMATE SAFARIS - https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLzp3R-agHVYDT-53OX0O7_k7hFe0tyXwZ
TRAVEL CHANNEL NAMIBIA – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpf6Z6PtcnCGNdzaDuYsjJg
All previous episodes available on our video page.
"Conservation is at the heart of Okonjima, and its' 20,000 Hectare Nature Reserve, using its' profits to fund research projects via the AfriCat Foundation. Their work feeds into the global efforts to save Namibia and the Worlds wildlife.
However, we are now in a desperate state of need since the global pandemic has turned our lives upside down... Covid-19 has totally devastated the donation stream to charities all over the world, and at Okonjima the funding for the AfriCat Foundation projects depends entirely on tourism. As the global tourist industry has dried up with Namibia like so many closing its borders, so has Okonjima’s ability to fund these crucial Projects. No tourist no income and the no surety on when it will return.
Normally employing 9 staff members to undertake this critical work the AfriCat team has now been reduced to 4, all operating on either a 'pay as you go' basis, or at 20% of normal salary... these are wonderful, committed and unique individuals who have devoted their lives to save the natural world which is so fundamental to ALL of our futures.
Dr Sarah Edwards has been leading a team, with plans for expansion, conducting critical work looking into healthy and sustainable predator populations within an island reserve pertinent to many situations. The new information emerging from the brown hyaena studies has been illuminating. A key focus has been the interactions and population densities of leopard and brown hyenas. The AfriCat Foundation is at the forefront of Pangolin Research and endangered wildlife and its' habitat. It had just embarked on a related study into aardvarks.
The bald truth is that the AfriCat Foundation and all the pressing work that it performs, cannot survive if they do not receive immediate donations. Fuel, housing, electricity, road maintenance (remember we are in a Nature Reserve!) all need to be funded to support the fantastic, dedicated team.
Meet Dr Diethardt Rodenwoldt (our veterinary expert), Dr Sarah Edwards, Louis Heyns and Andries !Garab . . .
At the end of the day, it is the animals, their habitat and our natural world that depends on us ALL to create a healthy future in which ALL species - including our own - will thrive. We have found out how much the natural world has helped us through the bad moments of this the global pandemic, may be now is the time to give it a helping hand.
The AfriCat Foundation is a small piece of this contribution, and now seeks your support to our work which does nothing but promote those goals.
Action you can take.
As Donna Hanssen from Team AfriCat in Namibia requests - We are looking to YOU to help us out. Please do. Thank you!
Thank you all so much for your support on Giving Tuesday. We were delighted to raise just about £3,000 and funds are still coming in. We have an exciting new ‘challenge’ for you – can you Design a T-shirt to help raise funds for lions in Namibia?
Things are really tough in Namibia, with the continuing drought in the lion project area, many people out of work due to closure of all international tourist activity, more poaching, and no income coming in from visitors for example staying at Okonjima. It is a fight for survival for people, livestock, wildlife, and businesses. None of us know when we will be able to travel again and provide an income to many, simply by visiting Namibia.
We would like to tap into your creative skills. We need an eye-catching innovative design to help spread the message about the plight of lions in Namibia. We lack a good illustration of a lion and a design that would attract people to buy! Can you help us? Something thought provoking perhaps? The field is wide open.
AfriCat UK wants to be able to support the Namibian Lion Trust formally AfriCat North. They are working with community farmers in a drought-stricken area trying to protect the lions and help the farmers keep their livestock safe. Want to see our current designs and the new collection then check out AfriCat UK’s shop.
To create a design that in the minds of the judges is fun, thought provoking and attractive to prospective buyers. We look forward to some great designs and illustrations. It will be brilliant to have a range of stunning designs that can raise money for the Lions of Namibia – over to you!
There are two categories Junior for those aged 14 and under and Senior for those over 14.
T-shirt made with your winning design together with a Chris Packham poster print of a lion and a ‘goody’ bag. In addition to the main prize those in the junior category will all receive a ‘little something’ as a ‘thank you’ for entering.
Can be made using a computer or hand drawn. AfriCat UK uses a company called Teemill who are ethically sourced and based in the UK to sell its T-shirts. They give scope for a front and back design. Where relevant please include details of suggested font, size, and colouring. Think about whether the design will work on different colour T shirts – you can change the colouring of lettering.
Closing date 31st July 2020
The Judges include John Birch AfriCat UK Trustee and photographer, Adrian Philips Managing Director of Bradt Guides www.bradtguides.com, Annabel Pope http://annabelpope.com stunning wildlife artist and keen supporter of AfriCat UK and Megan McCubbin Zoologist, film maker and about to be on Springwatch.
Be creative and imaginative
Help us to save the lions and the livestock.
To help the lions and to submit your design we are asking for a small donation (£5) per household which will go to the Namibian Lion Trust – for more details including how and where to submit your design read on.
2. Been clearing out? Then use what you are discarding to raise funds.
A company called #DeclutterAndDonate may be just what you are looking for! Virgin Money Giving has teamed up with World of Books Group and a trade-in site called Ziffit to give AfriCat supporters an innovative new way to raise funds quickly, easily and most importantly, safely. By decluttering at home, supporters can donate their unwanted Books, CDs, DVDs and Games through trade-in site and app Ziffit, and 100% of the trade value will go directly to AfriCat. It’s that simple! Interested? Click here and head to Ziffit to value your items, and the funds will be paid over within 7 days of the items being received.
3. Online shopping - then why not donate funds while you shop?
There is no cost to you - just remembering to use it! With most of us using online shopping in ways we never dreamt of three months ago, it is a perfect way to help the conservation effort. Currently you can sing up with either or both Easyfundraising or AmazonSmile.
Easyfundraising It does not cost you any more and with us all shopping more on line it can really help raise funds. AfriCat UK’s income from easyfundraising has risen this year which is great but we could do better! There are over 4,000 websites in the system. You can get a little icon that pops up if you are searching the web which lets you know that you can collect a donation on that purchase.
AfriCat UK is also a charity you can support through AmazonSmile. This has a long-term value.
4. Stay in touch If you are not already getting AfriCat UK’s newsletter Big Cat Banner then please sign up - it’s simple: just email email@example.com and say you want to join.
Already a member - thank you.
Can you get others to sign up too? The challenge is to try and get 5 people to sign up for the newsletter. Just ask them to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org saying they would like to get the Big Cat Banner and we will do the rest! The newsletter shares news of the projects and information on new ‘challenges’ which we hope you will find to be ‘fun’ things to do in these interesting times, while raising funds.
5. Run a cake stall – yes, it does sound a bit unlikely in the current climate. However, Anna last week ran a stall at the garden gate in her village to raise funds for Onguta school and had a successful afternoon. She used a local app that shares events in the locality to tell people about it. One lady came bearing gifts of flour and sugar while another made cakes. Thanks, one and all.
6. Revitalize your wallpaper on your mobile or PC.
The UK AfriCat Team have donated some stunning images which for a small donation of £2 can be yours. Take a look and by donating you can help to keep alive the work the AfriCat team in Namibia has been doing for over 28 years.
Together we can make a real difference to help these projects survive
Thank you so much
The International Union for Conservation of Nature has declared all eight Pangolin species, four in Africa and four in Asia as "threatened with extinction" since 2014.
Pangolins are currently in big trouble. They are being caught in their thousands and sold mainly for their scales which are thought to have medicinal properties in traditional eastern medicine and as a delicacy. The AfriCat Pangolin Research Project is the first of its kind within Namibia to focus on the ecology of the ground pangolin. Funds raised will be used to buy camera traps and tracking devices. Your donations will be much appreciated by the team in Namibia.
Okonjima Nature Reserve (ONR), home of the AfriCat Foundation, is also called home for a wide range of interesting species, one little known resident is a scaly anteater known as the Temminck’s ground pangolin (Smutsia temminckii) or ground pangolin. They are one of eight pangolin species worldwide and one of four pangolin species which occur on the African continent, all of which are classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The other four species are found on the Asian continent, all of which are either classified as Endangered or Critically Endangered by the IUCN. These animals are predominantly nocturnal which makes studying them difficult, especially in areas with high concentrations of predators, this is why African pangolin species are highly under researched.
There has been minimal research completed within Namibia, for this reason, AfriCat is launching the AfriCat Pangolin Project aimed at studying all details of life for the ground pangolin in Namibia. The overall aim of this project is to understand the activity patterns, population dynamics, prey selectivity, and overall ecology of wild pangolin within ONR and to gather further information about their behavior and survival strategies. The end goal of collecting this data is to shed light on biological baseline knowledge and to create conservation guidelines for ground pangolin which can be applicable across their range. Another very important objective is to increase awareness of the vulnerable status of southern Africa’s only pangolin species.
Using VHF tags attached to the scale, we are able to track pangolin in order to collect spatial data and observe their behaviors including prey selectivity, activity patterns and budgets, and survival strategies. The spatial data collected is used to determine home range sizes and changes in movement across seasons. Camera traps setup at known burrows will also assist in collecting data about activity patterns specifically determining emergence and return times at burrow locations. Remote weather stations allow us to look at the effects of weather conditions on pangolin active times and durations. All of the data collected will be used to further our knowledge on overall pangolin ecology. As we learn from ongoing research and advanced methodology, additional areas of focus will be included into the research.
The African lion (Panthera leo) is probably one of our most iconic species, yet it is a species in crisis having suffered a catastrophic decline both in terms of numbers and range. Just over a century ago there were more than 200,000 lions in Africa, today there are around 20,000, a decline of 90%. Since Disney’s The Lion King premiered in 1994, lion numbers have halved. In addition, they have disappeared from approximately 95% of their historic range and are now extinct in 26 African countries. Of the 28 African countries where they can still be found, only 6 are known to have populations in excess of 1,000 lions. To put this in perspective there are more wild rhinos, elephants and gorillas respectively than lions remaining in Africa, yet in comparison lions receive far less press coverage about their decline and the threats facing them.
The threats are numerous: habitat loss and fragmentation, human-wildlife conflict, the illegal bushmeat trade where they are often caught in snares meant for other species; and the illegal wildlife trade with demand for their body parts escalating. Poorly regulated and unsustainable trophy hunting and ceremonial killings are other factors contributing to their decline.
Namibia’s Lion Population
Estimates vary as to how many lions there are remaining in Namibia, although it is believed the population has been increasing steadily in recent years and now exceeds 1,000. Certainly, Etosha National Park, in the arid north west of the country, has a healthy population which has expanded westwards from the Park across the Kunene region to the Skeleton Coast. Perhaps inevitably this has brought them into conflict with people, particularly cattle farmers, as they move into communal lands which border the Park and where the Namibian Lion Trust is based.
Its population of desert-adapted lions, of which only 25 individuals survived in the mid 1990’s, has also been steadily growing and currently number around 150 individuals. Numbers are also increasing in the riverine wooded area in the north-east of the country.
This increase in numbers, at least in part, must be credited to Namibia’s internationally recognised communal conservancy programme.
Prior to independence from South Africa in 1990, the country’s wildlife population on communal lands had plummeted for a variety of reasons, an apartheid regime which alienated communities from their wildlife, uncontrolled hunting by the military during the struggle for independence, extensive poaching and severe drought.
In 1996, the Namibian Government gave communities the right to create conservancies, whereby they were permitted to manage and benefit from the wildlife on communal land. Since 1998, 86 communal conservancies have been created and now cover approximately 20% of the country and are vital in not only providing protected areas for wildlife outside of National Parks, but also creating large areas of connected, intact habitat where wildlife is able to move freely. Of course, it is not only wildlife that benefits, they improve rural lives by generating both cash income and in-kind benefits for local people. In 2018, the total cash income and in-kind benefits generated by conservancies was estimated to be worth N$ 147 million.