Africat Foundation

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AfriCat Foundation
Founded 1991
Founder Wayne Hanssen,
the Hanssen family
Type Conservation of large carnivores
Focus Education and Carnivore rehabilitation
Area served
Okonjima, Otjiwarongo (Namibia)[1]
Method Conservation through Education
Owner Hanssen Family
Key people
Tammy Hoth (Exec. Director),[2]

The AfriCat Foundation is a Namibian organisation promoting the conservation of large carnivores.


In 1970 the Hanssen family settled on the farm Okonjima in central Namibia. Brahman cattle were raised on the land but annual losses of calves to predators, particularly leopard, amounted to between 20 and 30 per year, decimating the herd and causing huge financial losses. As with many farmers at that time, the Hanssens embarked on a course of trapping, hunting and shooting the leopards in an attempt to control their losses. However, these losses continued at the same rate as before. Other measures were called for and calf-holding pens were built at watering holes where cows could give birth safely. The calves remained in protective custody until they were approximately 4 months old, their mothers coming in at regular intervals to feed them. Employing these livestock protection methods reduced losses to about 3 or 4 per year.

Wayne, the only son, recognised the need for a better understanding between humans and carnivores. He began observing the leopards and becoming more familiar with their habits and movements. At the same time the family started a small bed and breakfast business and tourists visited Okonjima. Wayne’s research had revealed where leopard could be found and he started to share his viewing experiences with the guests. Hunting ceased as more and more guests came to view the big cats at close quarters and Okonjima became a fast-growing tourism enterprise.

At the same time farmers were approaching the Hanssens for advice on livestock protection and to remove cheetahs and leopards that they had caught in traps on their farms. More and more large carnivores were coming to Okonjima to be treated, if necessary, and then released back into the wild. Some of these animals could not be released, having been orphaned at an early age and being too young to fend for themselves. These cats had to be cared for in the long term and the strain on Okonjima’s finances was considerable.

In 1993, the AfriCat Foundation was registered as a non-profit organisation to raise finds for the care of these large carnivores. To date AfriCat is the largest rescue and release centre for large carnivores in the world.[citation needed] Although separate entities, the relationship between Okonjima, a business concern and AfriCat, a registered non-profit organisation, is one of symbiosis. In a nutshell, Okonjima owns and manages the land and operates the tourism business while AfriCat provides the unique selling point: the opportunity for guests to view the large carnivores in a natural environment, as well as the work of the Foundation. AfriCat in turn receives an income from the revenue generated by tourism, which contributes to covering the running cost of the organisation, as well as an opportunity to obtain additional income from visitors who are more conducive to donating funds having witnessed the Foundation's work.

Afri-Leo Foundation becomes AfriCat North[edit]

In 1989, Tammy (née Hanssen) and her husband Uwe Hoth followed in Uwe’s father’s footsteps and continued with livestock farming after taking over Kaross, a 25,000 acres (10,000 ha) cattle farm on the south-western border of Etosha National Park. As with their predecessors and neighbouring farmers, they suffered high losses to predators, especially the spotted hyena. Aware of the lion conflict along the southern Etosha boundary, they established the Afri-Leo Foundation. The Foundation was registered as a Namibian-based, non-profit organisation in 1997. Its mission is to find workable solutions to human-wildlife conflict. With lion population "guestimates" ranging from 600 to 1000 adults and sub-adults, and these cats being confined to limited areas in Namibia, Afri-Leo set out to develop a comprehensive programme in support of the long-term conservation and protection of the Namibian lion. Based in Kaross, the Foundation is ideally situated to play a vital role in supporting environmental education, human-wildlife conflict mitigation and research and monitoring programmes in the Kunene Region of Namibia.

Since its inception, Afri-Leo has worked closely with the AfriCat Foundation. Due to the ever-increasing demands of large carnivore conservation, a mutual decision was reached to merge these groups under the AfriCat banner. Afri-Leo’s programmes and projects continued and expanded under the name AfriCat North.


A South African cheetah from the Africat Foundation, Namibia.

The AfriCat Foundation is committed to making a significant difference to Conservation Through Education and the long-term survival of Namibia’s large carnivore in its natural habitat. By working with commercial farmers, local communities, stakeholders, communal conservancies and the youth of Namibia, AfriCat supports environmental education, rehabilitation and welfare programmes, provides solutions to human-wildlife conflict issues and conducts constructive wildlife research. AfriCat focuses on the following programmes in order to achieve this mission:

Rescue & Release[edit]

AfriCat works closely with communal and commercial livestock farmers, assisting in alleviating losses from predator intrusion by providing a rescue-and-release and relocation programme. Since 1993 AfriCat has rescued over 1000 cheetahs and leopards on Namibian farmland. Over 85% of these animals have been returned to the wild. This project is currently on hold, due to the difficulty in gauging the ultimate success of rescued and released carnivores. AfriCat North focuses on providing solutions to communal farming methods to alleviate livestock losses by relocating marauding lions from farmland back into the Etosha National Park.


AfriCat provides an environment for previously non-releasable large carnivores to hone their hunting skills in a new 40 000-acre reserve on Okonjima. Carnivores learn to become self-sustaining which gives them the opportunity to return to their natural environment. This programme also supports constructive research.

Human-Wildlife Conflict Mitigation & Community Support[edit]

AfriCat supports the commercial (free-hold) and the communal farming communities of northern Namibia, specifically those bordering the Etosha National Park, in dealing with human-wildlife conflict issues and predator intrusion. In general, instead of predator removal as a method of conflict mitigation, AfriCat offers farmers a variety of effective farm-management techniques to better protect their livestock. In this way farmers are encouraged to become predator tolerant and most of the resident predators remain in place.


AfriCat provides environmental education programmes for the youth of Namibia, guiding them towards a greater understanding of the natural world and the importance of wildlife conservation. The programme has already reached over 20 000 children and young adults at the two education centres and through the Outreach Programmes.


AfriCat supports an ongoing collaboration with researchers, scientists and the conservation authorities by working closely with farming communities, allowing for constructive research to take place in support of the long-term conservation of Namibia’s predators.


AfriCat provides a home, food and care for young, orphaned or injured animals until they can be rehabilitated and released back into the wild.

The AfriCat Foundation – AfriCat Foundation Board of Trustees 2013[edit]

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 Hansse'n' 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 Okonjima for more than 12 years and has been the face of Okonjima in Europe. He is responsible for 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.
  • David Farquharson is a trustee of Africat UK. David has assisted with the running of Africat UK and various work with the Foundation’s legal requirements and issues.
  • A Management Committee of the Board was set up composed of Donna Hanssen and Tristan Boehme representing the trustees, in addition to the Executive Director (Tammy Hoth) and Administrator (Selma Amadhila). 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.


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-05-04. Retrieved 2013-07-18. 
  2. ^ AfriCat Foundation Board of Trustees 2011 Archived August 26, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]

This article is based on information from the equivalent article on the German Wikipedia.