Namibia: Cheetahs, Caracals, and More

namibia5Scientific American recently posted a fascinating slideshow about the cheetah breeding program of the Cheetah Conservation Fund and the Smithsonian National Zoo Center for Species Survival. The program seeks to end the practice of capturing wild cheetahs for zoos, and also helps scientists understand breeding and health issues that affect cheetah populations in the wild.

The Cheetah Conservation Fund has a wonderful sanctuary program in Namibia that rehabilitates injured and orphaned cheetahs while educating the public. Visiting the sanctuary is the highlight of many Namibian safaris. Visitors who wish to spend more time among the big cats may wish to stay at Okonjima Lodge, about 50 kilometers to the south. The Lodge is home to the AfriCat Foundation, which rehabilitates lions and leopards in addition to cheetahs. It offers many opportunities to see these cats, in addition to occasional viewings of the caracal, a smaller but still majestic cat species.

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Featured Lodge: Okonjima Bush Camp

namibia5Situated at the base of the Omboroko Mountains in Namibia, Okonjima Bush Camp is home to the AfriCat Foundation, which runs the largest cheetah and leopard rescue and release program in the world. In the last 17 years, more than 1,000 of these predators have been rescued, and more than 85 percent of those have been released back into the wild. Okonjima also has three domesticated lions – Matata, Tambo and Tessie – who were born in captivity and rescued by AfriCat. They have become long-term residents and can often be heard in the mornings before guests leave the lodge.

Activities at Okonjima Bush Camp include leopard tracking by vehicle, a visit to the cheetah welfare project, and a visit to the night hide where nocturnal animals such as porcupines, caracals, honey badgers and leopards may be seen.

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Living accommodations consist of nine luxurious rondavels. The thatched chalets are linked by walkways to a main area where meals are taken and activities begin. Each rondavel is completely private and the green canvas ‘walls’ can be rolled up to give you a 180-degree view, allowing you to watch life in the bush while relaxing in total comfort and safety.

Energetic early risers will enjoy the guided walking trails, which offer excellent opportunities for bird watching—over 300 bird species have been identified here. Two spacious animal-viewing hides are located within easy walking distance of the lodge, and another is situated at a recently established vulture feeding area just a short drive away.

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Contact Ujuzi to learn more about safaris in Namibia!

 

Namibia: Land of Stark Beauty

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This year, I’ve expanded my safari offerings to several new countries, including South Africa, Mozambique and Namibia. Over the next few months, I’ll be sharing some of the amazing features that make them unique, from malaria-free safaris in South Africa to coral reef explorations in Mozambique.

Today, I want to tell you about Namibia.

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Namibia is a vast country on the southwest coast of Africa, covering an area larger than Texas but with just 2 million residents – one of the lowest population densities in the world. It is also an ageless land with a heritage of stone-age rock art and a petrified forest where fossilized tree trunks have lain for more than 280 million years. A vast inland sand sea is home to some of the earth’s tallest dunes and dramatic canyons. Namibia’s wildlife is plentiful and diverse, with many animals unique to the area.

Take, for example, the desert-adapted elephant. These creatures are an ecotype unique to Namibia, behaviorally adapted to hyper-arid conditions. They walk farther for water and food then any other elephant in Africa – the distances between waterholes and feeding grounds can be as great as 42 miles. The typical home range of a family herd is larger then 770 square miles, or eight times as big as ranges in central Africa, where rainfall is much higher. Because of the desert’s daytime heat, they keep schedules that are opposite to those of their cousins in other parts of the continent: They walk and feed at night and rest during the day. They are less picky eaters, as well, browsing on 74 of the 103 plant species that grow in their range. Their ranges extend from river catchments in northern Kaokoveld as far south as the northern Namibia.

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Namibia is also home to the AfriCat Foundation, which runs the largest cheetah and leopard rescue and release program in the world. In the last 17 years, more than 1,000 of these predators have been rescued, and more than 85 percent of those have been released back into the wild. Its sanctuary is part of Okonjima Bush Camp, and guests at the camp can  track leopards, view cheetahs up-close, and take nighttime drives to view  nocturnal animals such as caracals (another wild cat), honey badgers and porcupines.

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Namibia’s low population and unique ecosystems make it an unforgettable safari destination. The dramatic scenery and spacious natural areas are almost free of human sounds, creating a feeling of antiquity, solitude and wilderness.

Contact me if you’d like to learn more about exploring Namibia!


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