Several years ago I made a trip to Namibia in southern Africa. Our first stop was at N/a’an ku sê, a wildlife sanctuary not far from Windhoek, the capital of Namibia. Established by conservationists, Marlice Van Vuuren and her husband, the sanctuary works to find ways for farmers and cheetahs and other predators to co-exist.
There are some 7000 cheetahs in the wild in the world. Namibia has the largest population. The work that this wildlife sanctuary and other organizations do will hopefully save this beautiful species from extinction.
Although Cheetah conservation is one of the primary concerns of the sanctuary there are many other animals that are also in need of help. Lions, too, are a threat to farmers and their livestock. By working with farmers to encourage trapping rather than killing of predators the sanctuary has been able to relocate many animals to other areas. Those that can’t be relocated find a home in the sanctuary itself. The lion pictured below was one of those. Several female lionesses kept him company.
Leopards are another predator that pose problems for farmers. Some can be relocated, but there are others that have at least temporary stays in the safety of the sanctuary.
Wild Dogs (aka Painted Dogs) too, are another problem. They hunt in very efficient packs of 7 to 40 dogs. Very seldom does their prey escape. Loss of habitat to expanding human population and deaths from diseases such as rabies and distemper have put the Wild Dog on the endangered list. Members of a litter of 13 pups were living in the sanctuary awaiting relocation when I was there.
One of the more easily domesticated of the Big Cats, Cheetahs can bond with humans. The following images are of Kiki who was rescued by a farmer after her mother was killed and turned over to the Sanctuary. Kiki was raised by Marlice and is devoted to her. She purrs louder than any cat I’ve ever heard. Kiki was more than willing to pose for pictures and even enjoyed being petted. At one point she accompanied us into the lodge lounge area to recline on a sofa for pictures.
Cheetah kittens are the hardest to relocate as they haven’t had the guidance from their mother to be able to survive in the wild, and by necessity they become habituated to humans as youngsters. There are a number of such cats living within the sanctuary. Marlice aka “The Cheetah Lady” seems to have a special bond with cheetahs.
Others In Need
There were a number of Caracals at the sanctuary. These are mid-sized cats weighing between 25-40 lbs as adults. They can attain speeds of up to 50 mph making them excellent hunters and also a threat to farmer’s livestock.
The sanctuary will take in almost any animal in need. Besides zebras, monkeys, donkeys and giraffes, there was a band of Meerkats that had been rehabilitated. They were released, but chose to stay in the compound. Pretty peacocks also wandered freely about.
N/a’an ku sê (translated as “God is watching over us”) is a very special place. Not only does the foundation strive to find solutions for the native wildlife, but also for the native San Bushmen who have lost much of their land to the growing human population in Namibia. Within the reserve is the Ancient Sans Skill Academy set in a traditional village where San families rotate in to live for 3 months at a time allowing their children to learn about and use the skills and language of their ancestors. Marlice’s husband, Rudie, is a physician and has set up a clinic in the reserve offering free health care to the Sans people. There is also a beautiful lodge for visiting tourists. A truly remarkable place!
Thanks for joining me. I think my website is now updated and functional. For those of you who have signed up for notifications when new articles are posted, please don’t forget to sign up again at the top of the page as the program didn’t allow me to carry your emails over to the newer format. There is also a check-box below if you would like to follow any comments on this article. The check pertains to this post only. You would need to click that box for each post when you would like to follow comments.