THE CARNIVORE CARE PROGRAM
Visit our project at AfriCat’s Carnivore Care and Information Centre.
A highlight at Okonjima is learning about our big-cat passion. The Okonjima Nature Reserve is home to the headquarters of The AfriCat Foundation, a non-profit organisation committed to long-term conservation of Namibia’s large carnivores.
AfriCat has evolved over the past three decades, and what started out primary as a welfare organisation has, over the years, identified the need to incorporate a focus on education and develop an ongoing collaboration with researchers, scientists, and conservation authorities. This is undertaken through practical research of species-specific ecology and behaviour, as well as through the development of effective conservation and management strategies.
AfriCat’s Carnivore Care Centre is a by-product of the Rescue and Release Programme which started in the early 1990s. Some of AfriCat’s captive carnivores in our care today are too old or habituated to be reintroduced into the wild and will, therefore, remain under the expert care of the AfriCat Team. These animals have assumed the role of being Species Ambassadors for their wild counterparts.
We do NOT support interactions between humans and wild animals and none of our carnivore ambassadors are raised into that role.
The carnivore ambassadors are used to educate our guests, nearby farmers, the youth and surrounding communities about the plight of predators. Through our education ambassadors we can explain human-wildlife conflict in a relaxed environment. All captive animals are responsibly looked after. Their dietary and health requirements are maintained and their spacious enclosures – a minimum of 1 ha per large predator – need to be as true to their natural habitat as possible.
After an informative afternoon trail, we end the day with a sundowner in an area of the Okonjima Nature Reserve which has a high density of the secretly-sociable and rarely-seen brown hyaena.
AfriCat Carnivore Care and Information Centre:
Morning, after Brunch, or Afternoon (ACC+IC pm-trail: includes a short drive and sundowner in the ONR)
Winter: Lodge Activity Times: Morning – departure at 6:30 Afternoon – departure at 15:30
Summer: Lodge Activity Times: Morning – departure at 6:00 Afternoon – departure at 16:00
Please visit the Rates page to view the activity fee.
Providing a ‘healthy living environment’ for large carnivores in temporary or permanent captivity is fundamental to minimising illness and injuries. The animals at AfriCat are housed in spacious enclosures of between twelve and fifty acres in a natural, stress-free environment. They are fed a well-balanced diet and vitamin and mineral supplements are used to prevent deficiencies. The animals are observed on a daily basis to monitor their wellbeing and condition, allowing for a quick response and treatment for any illness or injuries should they occur.
Annual health checks on the carnivores at AfriCat are headed by veterinarians from Namibia and South Africa. In-depth health examinations are carried out on all the captive and rehabilitated carnivores. All the cats are darted and then taken to a well-equipped clinic at AfriCat’s Carnivore Care Centre (ACCC) for evaluations.
All the animals are vaccinated and treated for both external and internal parasites. Each cat receives a thorough dental examination. All the carnivores are also weighed & measured – an ongoing research project to be able to accurately determine the body mass index of a captive and free-roaming carnivore. Read up on some of our Cheetah Research conducted over the years.
“The most widely accepted definition of ‘animal welfare’, is that it compromises the ‘state of the animal’s body and mind, and the extent which its nature is satisfied.” (i.e: genetic traits manifest in breed and temperament)
The above would suggest that ‘animal welfare’ includes not only the state of the animal’s body, but also its feelings. Most would agree that animals have feelings like fear, frustration, boredom, aggression etc and it has been proposed that ‘animal welfare’ consists entirely in feelings and that these have evolved to protect the animal’s primary needs.
Thus, if an animal feels well, it is faring well. A feelings-based approach to ‘welfare research’, typically measures behavioral outcomes and behavioral signs of fear or frustration. Such research has led to the conclusion that animals have fundamental behavioral needs that they must be allowed to satisfy!”