"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
AfriCat UK is a registered charity whose vision statement is "Conservation, Environmental Education, Research and Community Enhancement". We predominantly support and raise awareness of the AfriCat Foundation (a registered Namibian not for profit organisation).
AfriCat Foundation HQ is based at Okonjima www.okonjima.com, a private, 200km² nature reserve, 50 kilometers south of Otjiwarongo in central Namibia, and the AfriCat North base borders, western Etosha National Park. The AfriCat Foundation was founded in the early 90's and formally registered as a non-profit organisation in August 1993.
AfriCat has since grown significantly and what started out primarily as a welfare organisation has over the years identified the need to include a focus on child and adult education and research as being essential to accomplishing our mission - the long-term conservation of Namibia's large carnivores and the enhancement of the surrounding communities.
A very big ‘thank you’ to all who have helped AfriCat to raise a million Namibian Dollars to fund the new permanent classrooms which have replaced the tatty army tents that were Onguta school. The community, teachers and children are thrilled with their new school. They are keen to express their thanks to all who helped make it a reality. After a tricky start, some technical issues with the original building design and further discussions with all interested parties a new approach was agreed upon. Members of the community were actively involved in all stages of the project including helping with the construction.
A wonderfully named company called ‘Cowboys’ offered their help and expertise to build the school using recycled shipping containers! The location presented a few challenges as it is only accessible by robust 4x4 vehicles. The nearest petrol/shop is about a six-hour drive away so everything including camping gear, food and water had to be brought in. Given the logistics it was agreed that in addition to the classrooms, the build would include elements from the planned second phase of development, which had yet to be funded. The new school consists of the classrooms, the ablutions block, the kitchen, the storeroom, library, computer room and communal meeting space. Water needed to be sourced and installed - not easy in an area prone to drought with no mains water system. Likewise, solar panels needed to be installed to provide electricity.
The headman, community members, teachers are absolutely delighted with the result. The buildings are robust, and the school can be left secure during holidays. The government funds the teacher’s salary and usually some very basic resources including some food to give the children a midday meal - hence the need for the kitchen. The children may need to stay with local families or walk an hour or two each way.
AfriCat now needs to raise 700,000 Namibian Dollars. Can you help? Donations can be made via Virgin Money Giving Onguta School appeal. All funds raised will go to Namibia as designated funds for the school.
The Conservancy is in a remote drought prone area on the western borders of Etosha National Park. The members of this community are primarily subsistence farmers living off the land and their livestock. This land is open country and home to a range of other animals including lions and elephants. Remarkably Namibia is one of only two lion populations in Africa that is increasing. There are now fewer wild Lions left in Africa than Black and White Rhinos.
The community through the appointment of the locally recruited AfriCat Lion Guards is working with AfriCat to reduce Human Wildlife conflict and has agreed to stop killing lions within the conservancy. The headman firmly believes that education will play a key role in his communities’ long-term prosperity. The school is a tangible positive statement that living with wildlife has benefits. AfriCat North’s lion research programme incorporates an early warning system for farmers. The Lion Guards will help the famers to ‘chase’ the lions away from kraals and back into safer areas of wilderness. For more details see Protect a Pride.
The AfriCat Foundation in Namibia has undertaken pioneering research into understanding cheetahs and developed a highly successful programme for Cheetah Rehabilitation. Check out the cheetah research reports on the AfriCat Foundation website www.africat.org.
Cheetahs are the world’s fasted land mammal, with a fantastic ability to twist and turn thanks to evolutionary adaptions like their retractable claws to help them grip and their tail for balance and manoeuvring. To survive they need to be very wary and constantly alert for danger. Being the smallest and lightest of the big cats they need to avoid fights with lions, leopards, hyenas or wild dogs. They eat what they catch very quickly and will give up their hard earned kills to avoid injury.
Cheetah numbers like so much of our flora and fauna are in decline. Namibia is in fact one of the cheetah strong holds with thought to be up to around 35% of the world's wild population many of which live on farmland. The reasons for the decline are familiar too with loss and fragmentation of habitat being a key one. The rehabilitation programme highlighted another issue; cheetah do not do well in high densities of other predators like lion, hyena and leopard. This means in nature reserves where other carnivores are present the numbers of cheetah will be small or non-existent.
Why not show your support with an AfriCat Cheetah T-shirt or sweatshirt? Working with Teemill the products are made from organic cotton and printed in the UK in a renewable energy powered factory. There are a range to choose from including a Christmas linked version. Take a look at the AfriCat's Shop. Who knows there might be the odd Christmas present too!
There is lots of useful information on the International Cheetah Day website to check out. If you decide to have a party to celebrate International cheetah day let us know email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can see how we can help support it.
AfriCat UK is looking for volunteers interested in and keen to support the conservation and education effort taking place in Namibia. Giving the lions, leopards, cheetahs, brown hyenas together with other endangered species such as the pangolin a sustainable future alongside mankind is the goal.
The idea is to recruit several interested people over the coming three or four months. So please get in touch if you think you might be interested. The plan is to provide support to new members of the ‘committee’ before Carey steps down as Operational Director in June 2020. There are a range of different job tasks (all UK based) requiring different skills, from writing the monthly newsletter, to keeping tabs on income (bookkeeping), fundraising, developing the online shop and becoming a Trustee. Further details will be provided. While having visited the project would be useful, it’s not a requirement – a genuine commitment to helping is!
If you have energy, passion, ideas and want to help AfriCat UK support the conservation effort in Namibia www.africat.org. then please email email@example.com explaining your interest or call Janet on 0118 935 1681 to discuss it further.
The AfriCat Foundation has a wonderful new classroom at its Environment Education Centre at Okonjima all thanks to the generosity of the family and friends of Jenny Horan. Very sadly Jenny died while on her gap year working on a conservation project from a known heart condition. Her family Frank, Sally, Sean and Angus wanted to ensure a lasting legacy in her memory that supported her own goals in life. Jenny wanted to make a difference to the world, support conservation and help those facing challenges as she herself had learnt to live with her own health challenge. An education project supporting conservation in Africa seemed highly appropriate. A conversation with a friend lead to discussions with AfriCat. The classroom will be used by groups of students from Namibia and worldwide coming together to learn about living sustainably, eco systems, endangered species and ways of ensuring our world continues to thrive for the benefit of all.
Read more and be inspired by a young women’s life >>
READ MORE ABOUT THE WORK OF AFRICAT NORTH: The role of the AfriCat Lion Guards keepers of the wild is central and key to AfriCat overall success. The goal is to increase the number of lion guards and donations really help AfriCat and the community work together for the benefit of all.
More information can be found at AfriCat: Lion Guards
Director of the AfriCat Foundation, Tammy runs the AfriCat North projects based along the South Western Boundary of Etosha National Park, Namibia. With a deep passion for wildlife since childhood, it is her wish to spread this love and dedication for our natural world far and wide. This is the story of a woman trying to ensure our Namibian carnivores, especially the Lion, have a future!