Research & Collars
Okonjima established the AfriCat Foundation almost 30 years ago to advocate for the elimination of human-wildlife conflict, specifically in regard to Namibia’s predators. In order to further understand the scope and efficacy of possible solutions to this conflict, AfriCat embarked on multi-faceted research which continues to this day. The volume of research output reaped from the Okonjima Nature Reserve over three decades has been vast, and yet so much knowledge is yet to be gleaned.
As such, various research projects remain underway within the Okonjima Nature Reserve. These academic undertakings cover, in the main, leopard, hyena, rhino, and pangolin. In the course of these behavioural, density, and movement studies, it is imperative to track a small number of subject animals. This is done with the use of GPS or VHF tracking collars, which the Reserve’s rangers and researchers are able to locate, follow, and document. Clear patterns emerging after years of study are providing new understanding of species behaviour, and this knowledge is now being shared with the University of Namibia’s veterinarian faculty’s students who undertake field and practical studies within the Reserve.
Okonjima and AfriCat have always worked in concert, and the two organisations have a highly symbiotic relationship. Okonjima has been the biggest supporter of AfriCat, and guests at Okonjima have been able to observe AfriCat’s work up close. In giving guests a world-class game drive experience, Okonjima’s guides strive to show visitors the wide range of animals inhabiting the Reserve, but may also offer a closer look at one of the research animals. Their collars are light and non-invasive (AfriCat shuns chipping and subcutaneous tracking devices), and the viewing experience is unparalleled in Namibia. Guides carefully explain the scope of the research programmes and relevant findings to guests.
Overall, a very small number of animals in the Reserve, less than 50, are collared for research purposes. Okonjima will shortly add more displays to the lodges detailing the scope and findings of the various research programmes over the past 30 years. Okonjima will also augment viewing experiences with research summaries in each vehicle, so that sightings are juxtaposed with scientific data for those guests particularly interested in animal behaviour.
Despite challenges, AfriCat’s research efforts have continued unabated and, through continued support from Okonjima and its guests, will contribute much to cumulative knowledge of Namibia’s wildlife.