“Conserving large carnivores in Namibia has its ups and downs.” This is the opinion of Dr. Rudie van Vuuren, Director of the N/a’an ku sê Foundation.
“In 2009 we released Lightening, a female leopard that had previously come into conflict with humans in the central part of Namibia, we could not prove that she was in fact a problem animal and there was no evidence that she indeed killed livestock. In collaboration with Dr. Nad Brain from Wilderness Safaris we released her on the Kulala Reserve in December 2009. Now, two and a half years later she has made her home on Tsauchab River Camp of Mr. Johan Steyn.
Steyn, previously a livestock farmer, now focuses on using his land for tourism, and recently two of his guests spotted a leopard with two cubs. Steyn sent the photos the tourists took through to me and we positively identified the leopard as Lightening by the collar she had on, It was like a conservation fairytale.” says van Vuuren.
“But, there is also a downside to conservation. In 2011 we release three wild cheetahs on the Sandfontein Reserve of Mr Willie Agenbag. All three cheetahs were fitted with GPS tracking collars and we monitored them everyday. The release had been successful and the cheetahs were doing well. Eventually they wandered onto the Silwerstroom property of Bertus Fokkens where unfortunately they were unnecessarily shot by Farm Manager Dawie Olivier. We believe that they were then fed to the workers.
“We were very disappointed when we got the news from Agenbag. All the time, money and passion we had invested in these three cats was destroyed by human ignorance.” Laments van Vuuren.
“However, we remain positive about carnivore conservation and focus our time and resources on famers and landowners that want to conserve and want to farm in ways that benefit both them and the animals, and trust me, there are many of them.”