However, frequent predation of livestock means they are severely persecuted and many are killed by traps, poison or guns. Since it began in 1991, AfriCat has rescued more than 1,000 animals, returning over 85% to the wild. It now cares for animals that cannot be released and works with rural communities to reduce carnivore conflict.
AfriCat operates on two sites. Okonjima Nature Reserve is a 200km2 [hectares] former cattle ranch housing the captive care facility and serving as a release site and model for a healthy wildlife habitat. AfriCat North, on the Southwestern border of Etosha National Park, works with the park and local communities to address the high levels of carnivore (mostly lion) conflict. Education programmes run from both sites, bringing groups of secondary-age children and adults for 3-5 day field-based courses covering various environmental issues including tolerance of wild predators. Conflict mitigation activities in AfriCat North include construction of predator-proof kraals (livestock shelters), installing fence lines in critical locations, and collaring lions to provide early warning of potential conflict incidents. Both sites also conduct a range of research programmes into predator ecology, behavior and health.
Tusk has funded AfriCat for many years, supporting the purchase of a plane for transport and tracking of animals and the construction of a cheetah rehabilitation enclosure. We have also provided key funding for the environmental education programme.
Wild carnivores can only be protected in the long term if local people are prepared to live alongside them. AfriCat’s work needs to continue to bring this about and secure a future for these species.