Nestled in the southern part of Africa, Namibia is home to one of our most popular projects and we wanted to use the New Year as a chance to look back at all of the amazing work that occurred in 2015! The Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary is home to a huge number of animals so these updates are only giving a taster of all of the hard work that went into animal conservation efforts last year, but let’s take a look and see what happened!
The year at the sanctuary got off to the most tragic of starts when one of the most beloved animals at the project site passed away. Parkie the Aardvark was the resident animal star at the centre and he will be sorely missed by all at the project site. He arrived on the doorstep in late 2013 after his mother had been shot by a farmer and was taken in and cared for by one of the owners of the project site Marlice. Once big and strong enough to take on the outside world Parkie was in his element! He took part in daily bush walks and loved the camera! Parkie may be gone but he won’t be forgotten anytime soon.
After Parkies tragic death things started to look up at the sanctuary. The first piece of exciting news came in the shape of Frodo (no, not that one.) Frodo was a male Baboon who was estimated to be just 3 weeks old when he arrived and after initially being hesitant of his new human-shaped carers, Frodo blossomed into a bouncy and constantly curious little Monkey! His desire to join in with the everyday tasks in the office did make things a lot more difficult, but when you’re that cute you can get away with it!
On site at the Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary is the Clever Cubs school which is used to educate the children of the staff who work at the sanctuary and children from the local Sans tribe. In January the school teamed up with the Latymer Prep School in London and the children shared artwork! All involved were delighted to see a different way of life from someone their own age.
January concluded with more good news as Liska, the lone wild dog who had lost her brother back in 2012 to a snake bite got a new friend. Lady arrived at the Wildlife Sanctuary, and after a few months of quarantine and rehabilitation she was ready to be released into the wild. She formed an immediate bond with Liska and the two are now inseparable!
February’s news starts as you would probably have imagined Januarys would have, with a lot of wine! At the sanctuary’s sister site Neuras, they have decided to utilise the perfect wine growing conditions and do just that. Whilst a couple of glasses are saved for the staff and owners at the project site, the rest is bottled and sold to help fund the conservation efforts at the centre. This year’s harvest brought in roughly 9,712 bottles of wine so the celebrations at the inaugural harvest festival were well justified!
February proved to be a good month for big cat research too as the team managed to collar both a leopard and a cheetah. Whilst the Cheetah’s collaring was relatively straightforward, after the leopard had been caught in the temporary trap cage it was discovered she wasn’t alone. This particular leopard decided that that was the safest moment to become a mother! So the rescue team were met with two sets of eyes looking at them when they arrived at the site. Mother and baby both ran back into their territory once the team had ensured they could monitor them and began their new lives together!
The Clever Cubs School got two boosts this month as well, with a professional artist from the UK visiting and helping to add some vibrant colour to the walls of the school, and from a very generous donation of toys! The kids loved both of these new additions to the school and their beaming smiles were testament to that!
In a similar vein to January, the wildlife sanctuary got another boost to its numbers when a baby baboon was brought in. Ousie is a tiny female monkey, but her size didn’t stop her immediately bonding with the other infant primates at the centre, even if she couldn’t quite keep up with their boisterous play just yet!
Namibia may be famed for its dry desert landscapes, but in the summer there are regularly thunderstorms which bring with them a huge amount of sudden rain. This rain is welcomed by the parched bush and the animals which live in the country, but not so much by the Sans tribe who live in a village on the sanctuary site. The traditional grass huts which the San people call home proved almost useless against the heavy rains, and as a result the sanctuary started a fundraiser to get the Sans people new, more sturdy building to live in whilst it was the rainy season.
As is so often the case in a country which is home to so many of them, big cats were on the agenda for the sanctuary in March. Lightning struck again as a leopard who had been with the sanctuary since 2008 (conveniently for the pun she was christened Lightning when she arrived at the centre) was spotted by a camera trap. Normally very elusive, this was the first sighting of Lightning since 2013. However, the sanctuary’s long-standing leopard resident wasn’t the only big cat piece of news this month! A landowner sent an urgent plea, and the staff at the centre rushed off to rescue three Cheetah cubs. Rather than re-releasing them back onto the landowners farmland and risk the lives of the livestock, the Cheetahs were brought back to the sanctuary to begin their rehabilitation and growth!
This month’s big news was again of the feline variety, as another Cheetah was collared at Kanaan (the sanctuary‘s sister research site.) Once the powerful big cat was collared, he was swiftly released back into the wild. Events like this are important for the team in Namibia as it gives them a fantastic chance to further their research and knowledge on these spectacular animals! It wasn’t all good news for the big cats this month though as the sanctuary team came across a leopard cub whose foot had been caught in a trap. Fortunately his foot was not broken, and after some rehabilitation the team were hopeful that he would be able to return to the wild and enjoy a long and healthy life.
April saw a continual rise in the number of baby baboons who were being brought into the centre, and due to their inquisitive nature the monkeys needed somewhere to explore and play. This is where, after a generous donation from the Alice M M Pearsons Foundation, a primate playground was created! This gave the adventurous little monkeys a new way to exert all of their energy whilst staying safe.
Whilst with April came the sad news of a leopard getting his foot stuck in a trap, May brought with it some good news for this particular big cat species! On the 21st of the month, the rapid response team at the sanctuary rushed out to a nearby farm where the farmer had caught a leopard in a cage trap. The farmer was understandably concerned about having his prized livestock picked off by the pristine predator, so the team took the carnivore back to the reserve where he was released later that day.
May was a big month for the smaller animals who reside at the wildlife sanctuary. Two barn owls that had been living at the sanctuary finally flew the nest, another baby baboon (names Asjas which means “little rascal” in Afrikaans) joined the ever-growing clan of cheeky little monkeys, and a young Oryx also arrived to keep Miro the large male company. May was a very busy month at the sanctuary with new arrivals and even some releases occurring on a seemingly daily basis! It really was all hands on deck this month!
Hollywood glamour paid a visit to the Namibian desert in June when none other than Angelina Jolie headed to the sanctuary to meet and interact with the three new ambassador cheetah cubs! Along with her son Pax, Angelina was introduced to the three tiny Cheetah cubs, one of which was named after her daughter Shiloh.
Shiloh herself then had the honour of naming the other two cubs, and as a result Wonder and Odyssey are roaming around the sanctuary alongside their sister! The cubs were rescued when it was discovered that their diabetic mother could not produce milk, and therefore they would have died if they were not taken in by the staff at the sanctuary. Marlice, one of the owners of the sanctuary provided round-the-clock care for the tiny balls of fluff, and had the privilege of watching them grow by the day!
Keep your eyes peeled for the second half of the year. It will be posted very soon! If this post has grabbed your attention and you want to find out more about the project then you can do here.
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