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.
Supporting a community school - Onguta Primary School in the Ehirovipuka Conservancy
The original Onguta school comprised of two tents as classrooms, (the third blew away in a gale) sand floors and a metal trunk for storage. Extreme heat and dust made for less than ideal learning conditions! Yet, the three teachers and community are dedicated and keen to educate their children as best they can. 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.
Thanks to the generosity of AfriCat Supporters over $1 million Namibia dollars has been raised so far to build the classrooms of the new Onguta Primary School.
AfriCat’s wants to support this pro-active community by helping the development of the school.
The Onguta project was started end of 2017 but due to unforeseen circumstances the project had to be delayed. Furthermore thought was put into the logistics of the project and it was decided to move away from the traditional 'Brick & Mortar' style school to a more lock up and go set up that suits the surrounding conservancy better.
The entire school will be built with shipping containers that are no longer sea worthy but are still extremely durable. We are very pleased about this, as this emphasizes some of our environmental education lessons as well as our Mama AfriCat programme.
Raising sufficient funds from a variety of methods has helped us achieve our first target. A single donation from the Netherlands of 25 000 EURO, helped us ensure that we met the initial target of N$ 1 Million to start phase 1 of the Project.
However AfriCat needs an additional N$ 1 Million to finalise this project which was kindly fronted by Cowboys in good faith and we only have 18 MONTHS raise it. Please help support this project.
Read our page Onguta Primary School to follow all updates on the project.
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