Saturday, 31 January 2015

Namibias wild cats live on

africatDark, heavy clouds gather ominously in the east. Surrounding hilltops disappear. The deluge begins. In a few hours the ephemeral rivers will start to run, the roads will become impassable and the African bush will smile once again. It is the rainy season, the middle of summer; we are in the heart of Namibia on the guest farm Okonjima, the home of the Africat FoundationOkonjima, the Herero for “place of the baboon”, is an extensive tract of land nestling amongst the Omboroko mountains some seventy kilometres south of the small town of Otjiwarongo. Historically the surrounding land would have been home to some of Africa’s finest wildlife, today it is farmland. Cattle farmland to be precise, part of Namibia’s agriculture industry, providing work and a livelihood for many of the country’s local inhabitants. For the last 35 years Okonjima has been in the hands of the Hanssen family. Danish and British by extraction, the family today is one of only a handful of first language English-speaking Namibians. Wayne Hanssen taking over the reins of the homestead from his father in 1991 had a dream to turn the land back to its former splendour. Today, 15 years later, the achievements of the Hanssen family together with staff, friends and investors, are significant. The original farm has grown in size to 56 000 acres, the cattle have disappeared, grasslands are returning. Best of all, wherever you roam on the land one will, with a little patience, be rewarded with sightings of Africa’s glorious fauna and flora all returning to this Garden of Eden. To make this happen the Hanssens have created an impressive tourist operation. Offering accommodation styles which vary from camping, through simple luxury to sumptuous extravagance, Okonjima is not so much a holiday as an experience. The key to the experience is the Africat Foundation, a non-profit organisation primarily dedicated to the conservation of Namibia’s large carnivores. The cheetah as the flagship species is closely followed by the leopard, lion, wild dog and brown and spotted hyaenas.READ MORE LINK-

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