Based on Okonjima’s 22 000 ha private, Nature Reserve, 50 kilometers south of Otjiwarongo in central Namibia, 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 education and research as being essential to accomplishing our mission – the long-term conservation of Namibia’s large carnivores.
Habitat loss is one of the largest threats to the cheetah, wild dog, lion and leopard populations in Namibia. Livestock and game farms in Namibia number over 7000 and spread over most of the country – the same areas where the majority of these animals exist.
The resulting conflict between these predators and farmers protecting their livelihood reduces the natural habitat areas where the animals can safely exist. With a shift in focus from cattle farming to a livelihood dependent on game for tourism and/or hunting, there has been an increasing trend where the predation of game has become the motivation behind the elimination of cheetahs and leopards. The perceived “problem animals” who in the past were removed for preying on livestock, are now also being captured for hunting one of their natural prey species.
General predator removal is often the “livestock-protection method” utilized by certain farmers who view all predators as “problem animals” and cheetahs and leopards are trapped, poisoned or shot on sight. In most cases an individual animal is responsible for stock losses and not the species in general and this indiscriminate removal leads to the unnecessary elimination of many innocent animals.
AfriCat provides an environment for previously non-releasable large carnivores to hone their hunting skills in a 20 000-hectare (50 000 acre) (200km²) nature reserve, on Okonjima. Carnivores learn to become self-sustaining which gives them the opportunity to return to their natural environment.