Home of the Africat foundation, Okonjima is well-known across the globe for having the largest free roaming cheetah population in the world. The organisation takes in hundreds of unwanted wild cats who would otherwise have been trapped, or even killed, by livestock keepers to prevent them from preying on their animals. The private reserve spans across 22,000 hectares and is used to rehabilitate and conserve the carnivores that are under the care of the foundation. The conservation project was first started back in 1993 and is run by the Hanssen family who own and live on the property.Read More
While there is an emphasis on cheetahs at the Okonjima reserve, there are a number of other large carnivores that are protected here. Leopards, lions, wild dogs, hyenas and caracals are all protected by the Africat Foundation. Since the birth of the project over 1000 carnivores have been rescued and 86% have been aided to such an extent that they have been successfully released back in to the wild. Unfortunately, some of the animals get too habituated to being in protection and lose the ability to hunt and fend for themselves, making reintegration into the wild virtually impossible.
Aside from the conservation of these magnificent creatures, the Africat Foundation aims to create a sustainable future for large carnivores through the medium of education. Changing traditional habits and values is certainly not easy but the valuable members of Okonjima are giving their all to make this hope a reality. Tourism is one of the main ways that the project boosts conservation. The funds that come from visitors go directly towards the cause and the cheetah and leopard tracking tours that are on offer provide valuable information to the public about the animals and the cause in general.