OKONJIMA

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As sustainable development and conservation of earth’s limited, but valuable resources become ever more urgent – SO IS THE SYNERGY BETWEEN CONSERVATION AND TOURISM BECOMING MORE APPARENT! The symbiotic relationship which exists between The AfriCat Foundation and the Okonjima Nature Reserve is imperative – without education, research and the mitigation of farmer-predator conflict throughout Namibia, the essential conservation of large carnivores would falter … and without the substantial financial support offered by our foreign visitors, who stay in the OKONJIMA lodges, neither would survive!

West of the Waterberg Plateau Park, vast plains are occasionally broken by remnants of ancient Sandstone outcrops, which once covered large areas of northern Namibia.

Nestled among the “Omboroko Mountains” lies OKONJIMA – a Herero name meaning “Place of the baboons”.

This is much more than just a lodge. OKONJIMA is also home to THE AFRICAT FOUNDATION.

AFRICAT became internationally renowned after featuring in an award-winning documentary filmed for the Discovery Channel in 1995 &1996.

Namibia is home to the world’s largest wild/free-ranging cheetah population; the majority of this country’s cheetahs and leopards can be found on approximately 7000 commercial farms. These large carnivores occasionally prey upon the livestock that roam unprotected in the bush. As a result, carnivores are often regarded as vermin by the livestock and game-farming community and are deliberately trapped and/or killed.

AFRICAT has had to take on a large number of captive cats / carnivores no longer wanted by other establishments. Among the carnivores being rescued, researched and rehabilitated by AFRICAT are cheetah, leopard, lion, caracal, wild dog and hyena.

OKONJIMA is a family-run business. Wayne, Donna and Rosalea Hanssen who co-own and live on the property, bought OKONJIMA from their parents, Val and Rose in 1993 turning, the then, cattle farm into a conservation project.

Today the Okonjima Nature Reserve – is still the ‘Home of The AfriCat Foundation’.
AfriCat’s main focus is –
Conservation through Education, Researching Carnivores & Rehabilitating Captive Cheetah.

AFRICAT has saved more than a 1000 carnivores since 1993. 86% have been released back into the wild!

OKONJIMA is in a Malaria-Free area.

PLEASE NOTE:

An increasing number of tourism lodges are holding cheetahs, leopards and other wild animals in captivity for entertainment purposes only.  OKONJIMA supports the conservation of wild animals IN THEIR NATURAL HABITAT.

The practice of catching cheetahs in the wild for captivity is causing a drain on the wild population.  Revenue earned through showing these captive cheetahs at lodges rarely goes back into conservation practices.  THE AFRICAT FOUNDATION has also had to take on a large number of unwanted cheetahs, when lodge owners or farmers decide that they are not worth keeping.

It is OKONJIMA’S long-term aim, to encourage viewing of large carnivores in the wild, rather than in a captive environment and ‘direct human-animal contact’ with these wild animals, is detrimental to this long-term approach.

Guests visiting OKONJIMA will still be visiting THE AFRICAT FOUNDATION and learning about large carnivores in the wild like cheetah, leopard and lion, but in a constructive manner.

What is man without the beast?
If all the beasts were gone,
Man would die from a great
Loneliness of spirit.
For whatever happens to the beast,
Happens to man,
All things are connected…

Chief Seattle’s letter to the President of the US 1854

THE OKONJIMA HANSSEN FAMILY

The Hanssen Family arrived on Okonjima in 1970. VJ and Rose Hanssen were cattle farmers. VJ was born in Namibia and Rose in northern Rhodesia now Zambia. OKONJIMA was converted into a conservation area and the AFRICAT FOUNDATION was registered as a non-profit organisation in 1993

Sadly Rose passed away in Aug 1992, and VJ in July 2006.

  • WAYNE Hanssen: Co-owner of Okonjima Lodge, Okonjima Farm and the Founder and a  Trustee of The AfriCat Foundation. Financial Director & Projects Manager of large projects; such as the Grassland Science Research Project & the De-bushing of the Private Nature Reserve, Roads & Infrastructure, Game Management.   In charge of Investors & Large sponsorships & ALL future land projects.
  • DONNA Hanssen: Co-owner of Okonjima Lodge, Okonjima Farm and a Trustee of The AfriCat Foundation. Director of AfriCat’s Carnivore Care Centre, Brochure & DVD Design, Website Design, Interior Décor, the small touches…
  • ROSALEA Hanssen-Bassi:  Co-owner of Okonjima Lodge, Okonjima Farm and a Trustee of The AfriCat Foundation. In charge of all accommodation facilities, Reservations, Payments, Curios, Public Relations and takes care of the next Okonjima generation. . . . Keanu, Jayd and Kayden
  • Tammy Hoth (nee Hanssen):  Director of AfriCat and AfriCat North. A Trustee of The AfriCat Foundation.
  • LUIGI Bassi:  A shareholder in Okonjima Lodge. Director of Maintenance and Telecommunications (internet, computers) and father of the next generation. . . . . Keanu, Jayd and Kayden.
  • TRISTAN Boehme: Shareholder in Okonjima Lodge. Interior design, Public Relations and  Marketing.  Trustee of The AfriCat Foundation.
  • YOLANDI Roos:  Shareholder in Okonjima Lodge and Assistant with Reservations, Invoicing and Payments. In charge of the Perivoli Okonjima Country School and also runs the kindergarten section.
  • Dan Groves: Okonjima fitness and Wellness coach.

The AfriCat Foundation – AfriCat Foundation Board of Trustees 2011

A new vision has been created for the AfriCat Foundation and in order to implement this vision it was also deemed necessary to re-organise the AfriCat Board of Trustees. A larger, more broad-based Board would be better able to represent the various stakeholders of the Foundation, as well as provide differing skill sets and fresh perspectives to the Foundation.

At a meeting of the Board of Trustees on 9 April 2011, Wayne Hanssen, as proprietor of Okonjima and Dr. Mark Jago veterinarian for the Ministry of Environment and Tourism as well as to the AfriCat Foundation were carried over from the old Board and the following individuals added:

  • Donna Hanssen – has brought her considerable skills to bear in the reorganisation of AfriCat, particularly in raising the Foundation’s profile and bringing it closer to Okonjima’s guests. She is responsible for the new image which the Foundation now represents.
  • Mark Reinecke, Chairperson – a lawyer by training, is also a part-owner for the past 14 years of Farm Ombujongwe, which has been brought into the Okonjima Conservancy and now serves as an integral part of AfriCat’s release programmes.
  • Tristan Boehme – has worked at Okonjimasince 1999 and has been the face of AfriCat and Okonjima in Europe. He is responsible for co-creating the newly invigorated guest experience at the AfriCat Foundation.
  • Kathleen Newton, Treasurer – her experience with, and knowledge of, other trusts as well as her understanding of Namibia’s business community shall prove invaluable.
  • Tammy Hoth, Director: AfriCat Foundation – will be the public face of the Foundation in Namibia and will interact with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, as well as with local supporters and donors.
  • Karen Codling, Secretary – responsible for maintaining the Board records of the Foundation. Karen has worked for and with the UN since 1990.
  • A Management Committee of the Board was set up comprising of Donna Hanssen and Tristan Boehme representing the trustees, in addition to the Executive Director (Tammy Hoth-Hanssen) and Office Manager (Chris Moshosho). The establishment of this committee permits day-to-day decisions of the Foundation to be effected efficiently and smoothly. With a freshly renovated office, the Management Committee has created a renewed impetus for moving AfriCat forward.