THE AFRICAT FOUNDATION IS COMMITTED TO THE LONG-TERM CONSERVATION OF NAMIBIA’S LARGE CARNIVORES
The AfriCat Foundation was founded in the early 90’s and formally registered as a non-profit organisation in August 1993. The Foundation has since grown significantly and what started out primarily as a welfare organisation, has over the years, identified the need to focus on education and research, as being essential to accomplishing our mission – the long-term conservation of Namibia’s large carnivores.
The Foundation has since grown significantly and what started out primarily as a welfare organisation, has over the years, identified the need to focus on education and research, as being essential to accomplishing our mission – the long-term conservation of Namibia’s large carnivores.
E D U C A T I O N
AfriCat provides environmental education programmes for the youth of Namibia by guiding them towards a greater understanding of the natural world and the importance of wildlife conservation.
The AfriCat Environmental Education programme is an enabler within the broader Namibian education system. Catering to a wide spectrum of ages and socio-economic backgrounds, AfriCat’s vision is to harness the rapt attention which learners embody when they visit AfriCat’s two centres into a deep-seated awareness of ALL environmental issues and, specifically in the Namibian context, those involving the vexed juxtaposition between farming communities and the country’s large carnivores.
- To continuously develop, propagate, and improve Environmental Education programmes for the benefit of Namibians, in the pursuit of increasing awareness and understanding of the complexity of environmental issues, to teach and encourage sustainable living practices, to promote greater tolerance of carnivores outside of protected areas, and to find practical solutions to the farmer-predator conflict situation.
- To develop the knowledge, skills, and action-competence of learners and their communities, enabling them to participate in the conservation of their areas, leading to the sustainable management of carnivore populations in Namibia.
- Through increased education and awareness, AfriCat is dedicated to the protection and conservation of wild & free-ranging carnivore populations in Namibia, ultimately ensuring the survival of the species.
- To develop and support specific community initiatives, programmes, and projects, which are targeted to sustainably contribute to economic enhancement of households, with the consequent gradual but steady impact of poverty alleviation and skill augmentation.
The programme has already reached over 25 000 children and young adults at the two education centres and through the Outreach Programmes. (AfriCat on Okonjima & AfriCat north, bordering Etosha National Park).
See our page on: Conservation Through Education.
H U M A N – WI L D L I F E C O N F L I C T M I T I G A T I O N & C O M M U N I T Y
S U P P O R T
AfriCat supports commercial (free-hold) and the communal farming communities of northern Namibia, specifically those bordering the Etosha National Park, in dealing with human/wildlife conflict issues and predator intrusion. In general, instead of predator removal as a method of conflict mitigation, AfriCat now offers farmers a variety of effective farm-management techniques to better protect their livestock. In this way, farmers are encouraged to become predator tolerant and most of the resident predators remain in place.
The AfriCat Communal Carnivore Conservation Programme (CCCP) includes the following projects:
- Livestock Protection Programme
- Community support & Environmental Education
- Carnivore Conservation, Research & Monitoring
Lion research around the Etosha National Park: The Communal Carnivore Conservation & Research Programme (hereafter CCCP) will effectively support farmers as well as ensure the protection of the wild lion along Etosha’s borders and elsewhere. In order to establish the effectiveness of relocating these trans-boundary lions as well as the long-term sustainability of conflict mitigation practices, a research project has been developed.
Post Rescue Lions: The AfriCat – Etosha Transboundary Lion Project aims at monitoring the movements of collared perpetrators, in the hope that they will not return to the farms where they were caught. The outcome of this project will provide valuable data as to whether all lions leaving the Etosha Park to feast on livestock become habitual stock-raiders or whether some only 'occasionally' cross these borders, returning to their home-ranges thereafter.
R E S E A R C H
AfriCat supports an ongoing collaboration with researchers, scientists and the conservation authorities by working closely with farming communities, allowing for constructive research to take place in support of the long-term conservation of Namibia’s predators.
AfriCat’s Carnivore Research includes the following projects:
- The long-term health monitoring and immune-competence of captive cheetahs and other felids at AfriCat and in the Okonjima Nature Reserve
- Cheetah genetic diversity demography
- Reversibility of Deslorelin implants in males
- Does Dental intervention improve on the well-being of captive carnivores
Our Annual health checks:
For a number of years, specialist veterinarians have been invited to share their expertise or to contribute to valuable research during our annual health-checks. Veterinary specialists in the fields of dentistry, ophthalmology, gastro-enterology, and reproduction are also consulted to give input to the health assessments and perform various procedures which may be required.
See: Annual Health-checks
Namibian Wild Dog Project:
The selected study site (Mangetti Cattle Ranch and Mangetti National Park) is situated in the Kavango Region along the boundary between commercial farmland and Kavango communal farmland, to the east of the Etosha National Park. The study area includes about 40 farms and covers approximately 200 000 hectares, where wild dog packs are regularly sighted and farmer-predator conflict threatens their long-term survival.
This is the first collaborative effort between 3 NGO’S; AfriCat, N’aankuse and Namibian Nature Foundation (NNF) Wild Dog Project commenced in February 2013.
See: The Namibia Wild Dog Research Project
The AfriCat Hobatere Lion Project:
We are at present conducting a study of the Lion (Panthera leo) population within the Hobatere Concession Area and movements between the Hobatere Concession Area, western Etosha National Park and adjacent communal farmland.
See: The AfriCat Hobatere Lion Research Project
The AfriCat Predator and Prey Population Density Study in the Okonjima Nature Reserve:
- Understand the drivers of tourism in private game parks, by establishing how private, tourism-based game parks in Namibia can play a role in the long-term conservation of carnivores.
- Develop a model for the variety of prey animals that can be supported by this environment - Test the model against the information available (data gathered, direct action, land recovery management, training - focusing on the species in their natural habitat)
- Develop a model for the predator that can be supported by the available prey base - Test this model against available information (data gathered, direct action, focusing on the species in their natural habitat)
- Use the correct models to determine predator-prey numbers and evaluate and adapt on a yearly basis
- Evaluate different methods to rehabilitate degraded areas.
Researching Leopard & Hyaenas in the 200km² Okonjima Nature Reserve: Our dream is to turn the 200 km² Okonjima Nature Reserve, which was recently denuded farmland, back to its original natural state, last seen perhaps 200 years ago. This dream must be sustainable and a benefit to local communities for it to survive the tides of change in Africa. Researching carnivores on Okonjima and on communal and commercial farmland - particularly cheetahs, lions, leopards and brown hyaenas – will help future farming communities and reduce the numbers of predators killed on farmland. AfriCat wants to offers practical solutions to the farmer-carnivore conflict.
De-bushing the Okonjima Nature Reserve:
Ultimately, we are hoping to have the reserve's habitat in such a condition that it can be divided into thirds: one third being open plains, one third being woodlands and then one third to be left as riverine thickets. This will be no easy task and at the moment we are working on a 10-year plan. Even though one might have cleared an area before, one will have to come back to the same area again in 2 – 3 years, to take out bush that has grown again. During this time we will be using more controlled burning as this will also promote the natural growth cycle of the new grasses.
The next couple of years are going to be a tough fight, but at the end we are certain that we will be able to win the fight against bush encroachment. The result will hold positive benefits to both fauna and flora within the Reserve.
R E H A B I L I T A T I O N
AfriCat provides an environment for previously non-releasable large carnivores to hone their hunting skills in a 4500 ha reserve and a new 16 000-hectare reserve, on Okonjima. Carnivores learn to become self-sustaining which gives them the opportunity to return to their natural environment.
This programme also supports constructive research.
Rehabilitating Captive Cheetahs and the success rate of Rehabilitation:
- Determine how rehabilitation will influence predator-prey ratios and update the model accordingly
- Determine the success of 'captive cheetah rehabilitation' within an island-bound conservation area.
AfriCat Rehabilitating Captive Cheetahs
FILMED AND EDITED BY ITV, UK - © itv 2010. 18 May 2010 – The AfriCat Rehabilitation Prgm is back on track – the first 5 cheetahs are released into the 200km² Okonjima Nature Reserve. AfriCat’s Cheetah Rehabilitation project was initiated to give some of our captive cheetahs an opportunity to return to their natural environment. Although hunting in carnivores is instinctive, many of the cheetahs at AfriCat lack experience due to being orphaned or removed from the wild at an early age. This inexperience, as well as their conditioning to captivity, makes these animals unsuitable for release on farmland. The cheetahs (usually a coalition of brothers and sister) are fitted with radio-collars before their release into the camp so that their welfare and progress can be closely monitored.
W E L F A R E
AfriCat provides a home, food and care for young, orphaned or injured animals until they can be rehabilitated and released back into the wild.
Only 10% of all the carnivores AfriCat has rescued - are with us on Okonjima and are cared for by the AFRICAT WELFARE programme.
C O N S E R V A T I O N T H R O U G H E D U C A T I O N