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Pangolin Land Part 1

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.


Pangolin Land Part 2

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.


Pangolin Land Part 3

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.  


Hyaena vs Leopard

The 20 000 ha, Okonjima Nature Reserve has the highest recorded density of brown hyaenas currently recorded throughout their distribution. Alongside the protection the reserve offers from human persecution, we believe the high leopard density benefits brown hyaena by increased scavenging opportunities. Kleptoparasitism, a form of feeding in which one species takes the food of another, is commonly seen on Okonjima; brown hyaenas often steal the kills of leopards.

IN THE FIRST SCENE: Leopard females give birth after a gestation period of three months to an average of two cubs (range 1-3). For around the first three months of their lives leopard cubs stay in the safety of the multiple dens, which the cubs are moved between. Dens might be an old aardvark burrow, in thick vegetation or a rocky area. Here, successful leopard mother Lila, was filmed carrying her young cubs to a den site on Okonjima. However, with an excellent sense of smell, a brown hyaena detected the cubs and approached, potentially in the hope of an easy meal. Lila fiercely protected her cubs, rushing at the brown hyaena, which responded with raised hair making it appear larger. Luckily, in this case, Lila was more powerful and saw off the hyaena, ensuring the safety of her cubs for another day.
FILMED BY: Endemic Productions - Namibia during the dry season

IN THE SECOND SCENE: Our mother leopard Electra, is securing a meal for herself and her two young cubs in the form of a warthog. However, once the dangerous part of killing the warthog is finished, a brown hyaena quickly moves in a takes the kill from her. The raised hair of the hyaenas helps them look larger than they are, helping them to intimidate even male leopards enough for them to move off their kills for brown hyaenas. Learn more about our hyaena and leopard research here: https://africat.org/publications
FILMED BY: Luca Verducci just as the rains started falling.


Brown Hyaena Darting
Hyaena darting: Long-term research data is needed to make informed conservation management decisions, and part of this is replacing the GPS collars of study animals to ensure uninterrupted periods of spatial data are collected. For our study hyaena ‘OHB01’ aka Newton, a collar replacement meant a free-darting attempt by our resident veterinarian Dr Diethardt Rodenwoldt. Our target hyaena, along with several black-backed jackals quickly showed up at the bait site, and a successful darting followed. The research team were able to replace the collar, take the all important biological samples and release the hyaena back into his environment in under an hour. Our long-term hyaena research project is shedding light on the altered ecology of this shy and elusive species within an enclosed reserve. Read more about our hyaena research here: https://africat.org/hyaena-research

Meet Kelsey Prediger - Pangolin Researcher

Kelsey grew up immersed in nature on a small lake in the United States, this is what developed her passion for nature and wildlife, ultimately bringing her to Namibia. She received her BSc in Zoology and Environmental Biology and BA in German at Michigan State University in 2013. After graduation, she was ready to jump into the field of zoology to further expand her experience and see which direction in conservation she would like to go for graduate studies. She has worked a variety of positions ranging from zoos to sanctuaries to conservation centers focusing on large carnivores. These experiences honed her interest to focus on endangered species conservation.


Meet Jenny Noak - AfriCat Leopard Researcher

Jenny Noack joined Team AfriCat in September 2014. She studied biology in Germany and completed her Bachelor of Science at the Freie Universität zu Berlin in 2010 and specialized afterwards in Evolution and Organismic Biology with emphasis on Zoology and Conservation at the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin. Jenny finished her studies with a Master of Science degree after a 4-months field project at the AfriCat North headquarters that aimed to investigate the occurrence of large carnivores and their potential prey species via the application of camera traps.


Meet Dr Sarah Edwards - AfriCat Hyaena Researcher

Originally from Cheshire in the United Kingdom, Sarah first came to Namibia in 2007 and fell in love with the country, its people and wildlife. Having gained a BSc in Animal Behaviour and Welfare at University Sarah studied ground squirrels on the NamibRand Nature Reserve for a year before returning to the UK to complete her masters in Animal Behaviour at Manchester Metropolitan University.


Meet Louis Heyns - AfriCat Para-Vet & Park Manager

From dusk till dawn, Louis carefully monitors all the carnivores in the reserve. This includes making sure the rehabilitated cheetahs are hunting on their own and if there is enough water in the area, following the pack of wild dogs and checking up on the spotted hyaenas. As a part of our ongoing prey and predator density study in Okonjima, Louis also monitors the leopards in the reserve, their movements, territories and setting up boxtraps with live camera feeds to catch and collar our leopards for research purposes.


AfriCat Short Overview
As an organisation dedicated to recognising, analysing and producing solutions to Namibian conservation challenges, The AfriCat Foundation works alongside NGOs, committed individuals, collaborating scientists, conservation authorities, and farming communities in an effort to fulfil its strategy for success.

AfriCat founder, Wayne Hanssen talks 'Grassland-science'!
FILMED AND EDITED BY ITV, UK - © itv 2010. Taking Care of the Land: Wayne Hanssen leads the Okonjima team in a tourism venture that offers their guests 'authenticity' and 'luxury'. Funds are used for 'conservation', 'environmental education' and 'social responsibility'.
HIS PASSION: Is grassland science.
HIS DREAM: To turn Okonjima's 55 000acres of Nature Reserve into what it once looked like, before man destroyed it due to a lack of understanding the fragile nature of our environment.
HIS WISH: Is for the next generation that hold the future of this land in their hands, to learn from our mistakes and to 'BE the change they wish to see' in this beautiful country, Namibia!