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Our Team

MEET THE FAMILY

Wayne Hanssen

Founder

Today he leads the Okonjima team in a tourism venture that offers our clients ‘authenticity’ and ‘luxury’. Their funds are used for ‘conservation’, ‘environmental education’ and our ‘social responsibility’. 
• His Passion is grassland science. 
• His Dream is to turn Okonjima’s 55 000acres of Nature Reserve into what it once looked like, before man destroyed it due to a lack of understanding the fragile nature of our environment. 
• His Wish is for the next generation that hold the future of this land in their hands, to learn from our mistakes and to ‘BE the change they wish to see’ in this beautiful country, Namibia!

Donna Lee Hanssen

Founder

Has brought her considerable skills to bear in the reorganisation of AfriCat, particularly in raising the Foundation’s profile and bringing it closer to Okonjima’s guests. She is responsible for the new image which the Foundation now represents.

Mark Reinecke

Chairperson

A lawyer by training, is also a part-owner for the past 14 years of Farm Ombujongwe, which has been brought into the Okonjima Conservancy and now serves as an integral part of AfriCat’s release programmes.

Tammy Shane Hanssen-Hoth

Director

Is the public face of the Foundation in Namibia and interacts with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, as well as with local supporters and donors. Tammy heads up the AfriCat North projects focusing mainly on our wild Lion populations, which are situated along the south western boundary of Etosha. 

Tyla Hoth

Social Media & Online Coordinator

Daughter to AfriCat’s Director, Tammy Shane Hoth, Tyla completed her studies in Marketing Communications at AAA School of Advertising in Cape Town back in 2014. Having grown up and been exposed to the AfriCat Foundation, sharing the passion for wildlife from a very young age as well as having specialised in Brand and Digital Marketing, Tyla started taking over the social media management in 2015. As her interest in Digital Marketing grows, Tyla has recently taken over full responsibilities of the entire AfriCat Foundation and Okonjima Lodge’s Digital Portfolio.  

David Farquharson

Trustee AfriCat UK

David is a trustee of AfriCat UK. He lives in West London with his wife, Jo and three children. David and his wife first visited Okonjima in November 2010 and were massively impressed by the great work being carried out by the AfriCat Foundation and equally by the warmth of the African hospitality. His wife then volunteered his services! As a corporate lawyer with a media and entertainment firm, David has assisted with the running of AfriCat UK and various work with the Foundation’s legal requirements and issues. Outside of law and AfriCat, David enjoys spending time with his family, undertaking a variety of sporting pursuits, travelling, theatre, and good food and win.

Karen Codling

Secretary

Responsible for maintaining the Board records of the Foundation. Karen has worked for and with the UN since 1990.

Mark Jago

Board Member & Veterinarian

 Born and bred in the UK and having trained as a veterinary surgeon at Cambridge University, Mark followed his dream and in 1987 started working with wildlife in the National Parks of Tanzania. In 1993 he moved to Namibia with his wife, Laura, and their two children, Isla and Torran and for the next 14 years worked in a mixed rural veterinary practice. During this time Mark became closely involved with The AfriCat Foundation and its work with large carnivores.

Over the years he has been responsible for much of the health and welfare of AfriCat’s longer term residents as well as several of the research projects which have been undertaken. Today Mark works for the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism as their wildlife vet in all of the country’s National parks. Mark and the family remain closely involved with the workings of The Foundation from both a veterinary and a conservation perspective, helping to guide its work into the most challenging areas of conserving Africa’s large predators in the face of ever-growing competition for the planet’s limited resources.

Diethard Rodenwoldt

AfriCat Veterinarian

I am used to working within a team, and I aim to part-time assist The AfriCat Foundation during 2015/2016. Since August 2015 it has been my responsibility for some of the health and welfare of AfriCat’s longer term residents as well as several of the carnivores in the Okonjima Nature Reserve.

During 2015/2016, I will link-up, be part of and contribute positively to the working activities of an already respected proven functional unit which is Team AfriCat. Together, we would like to achieve the ultimate for wild cats, canines and herbivores in terms of conservation, education, veterinary care and research.

We also plan to contribute not only to the establishment of basic farming principles for a mutual, beneficial co-existence between carnivores and cattle ranching, but simultaneously improve the ecology of the fauna and flora of the Okonjima Nature Reserve over time. I am excited and look forward to a new era of exciting challenges.”

Dr Rodenwoldt, together with other veterinaries working with AfriCat, will also be involved with the workings of The Foundation from both a veterinary and a conservation perspective as well as several of the research projects which have been undertaken, helping to guide its work into the most challenging areas of conserving Africa’s large predators in the face of ever-growing competition for the planet’s limited resources.

Dr GERHARD STEENKAMP

Veterinary Dentist

Veterinary Dentist & Maxillofacial Surgery Referrals. Dr Steenkamp has been involved in taking care of The AfriCat Foundation cheetahs’ dental health since 2002. During this period he has been able to monitor AfriCat carnivore interventions as well as how these animals progress. 
Dr Gerhard Steenkamp is a tooth-specialist, practicing in South Africa (Pretoria and at the university of Pretoria)

CURRICULUM VITAE FOR GERHARDUS STEENKAMP

Place of birth: Polokwane, South Africa
Department: Companion Animal Clinical Studies 
Position: Senior Lecturer

Degree/Diploma: BSc
Zoology/Botany, University of Pretoria 1988 
BVSc Veterinary Science,  University of Pretoria 1994
MSc Zoology, University of Pretoria 2008 Cum Lau

Dr. Adrian Tordiffe

Veterinarian & Lecturer at University of Pretoria

Adrian grew up on a farm in Free State Province of South Africa where he developed his love for African wildlife. He graduated with a veterinary degree from the University of Pretoria in 1997 and then spent the next 8 years in small animal private practice in the United Kingdom. In 2005 he returned to South Africa with his wife Ashleigh and three (now four) children, to persue his real passion, namely African wildlife research.

In 2006 he completed a Masters degree in African Mammalogy at the Mammal Research Institute of the University of Pretoria, which he obtained cum laude. He started working at the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa (NZG)in 2007 as a clinical veterinarian, but his focus soon changed in line with his research interests. Dr Adrian Tordiffe currently holds a full-time research position at the NZG and is enrolled for a PhD in Biochemistry at the North West University in Potchefstroom. His aim is to establish baseline metabolic profiles for captive and free-ranging cheetahs in order to investigate the unusual medical conditions that these animals develop in captivity. He currently also has a dual appointment as an extra-ordinary lecturer at the Faculty of Veterinary Science at Onderstepoort. His broader research interests are on the non-infectious and nutritional diseases of wildlife, particularly those caused by anthropogenic habitat transformation.

Dr Tordiffe also has a keen interest in wildife anaesthesia and physiology and has been called apon to assist with the anaesthesia of a wide range of mammals, large and small. Adrian has been involved with the AfriCat Foundation for the last two years where he has been maily responsible for the anaesthesia and medical management of the animals undergoing various dental treatments.

OUR AFRICAT HQ TEAM

Selma Amadhila

Junior Manager

In January 2014, we welcomed Selma Amadhila to Team AfriCat. Selma is from Ondangwa, and she came straight out of University after 5 years of majoring in Tourism Management & Environmental studies at the University of Namibia, with an Honours Bachelor’s degree. She was handpicked among 53 other applicants because of her passion for wild life conservation, the human wildlife conflict but most of all because of her love for animals and living in the bush. 
Selma is honoured to join the AfriCat Team and has vowed to carry on the mission – the long-term conservation of Namibia’s large carnivores.

Jenny Noack

AfriCat Researcher & Biologist

Jenny Noack joined Team AfriCat in September 2014. She studied biology in Germany and completed her Bachelor of Science at the Freie Universität zu Berlin in 2010 and specialized afterwards in Evolution and Organismic Biology with emphasis on Zoology and Conservation at the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin. Jenny finished her studies with a Master of Science degree after a 4-months field project at the AfriCat North headquarters that aimed to investigate the occurrence of large carnivores and their potential prey species via the application of camera traps.

Jenny’s love and passion for the African wildlife found its first practical experiences in South Africa and guided her back ever since. Besides coordinating and implementing the current Okonjima/ AfriCat leopard density study, Jenny is assisting with the monitoring of the rehabilitated cats in the 20 000 ha Okonjima Nature Reserve and collects data of all the carnivores within the 200km² Nature Reserve. She assists with the AfriCat Environmental Education programme, the admin demands of the foundation, and takes care of our three orphaned wild dog pups Jogi, Messi and Robin.

Louis Heyns

Park & Research Manager

Louis grew up in the coastal town Swakopmund. After 15 years as a tour guide in Namibia and South Africa he came to Okonjima in August 2011 to run the volunteer program PAWS – People and Wildlife Solutions. Louis and his team received volunteers from all over the world, teaching them about conservation and the wildlife of Namibia while getting their hands dirty. In December 2012, when PAWS was put to rest to make way for our Enviromental Education Program, Louis was offered to join Team AfriCat as key supervisor of the rehabilitated carnivores in the 20 000ha Okonjima Nature Reserve.

From dusk till dawn, Louis carefully monitors all the carnivores in the reserve. This includes making sure the rehabilitated cheetahs are hunting on their own and if there is enough water in the area, following the pack of wild dogs and checking up on the spotted hyaenas. As a part of our ongoing prey and predator density study in Okonjima, Louis also monitors the leopards in the reserve, their movements, territories and setting up boxtraps with live camera feeds to catch and collar our leopards for research purposes.

As AfriCat’s Park & Research Manager, Louis has made it his mission to make sure the rehabilitated and wild animals are looked after. He also takes care of VIP guests, donors and sponsors and updates them on the work of the AfriCat Foundation.

Sarah Edwards

AfriCat Researcher

Originally from Cheshire in the United Kingdom, Sarah first came to Namibia in 2007 and fell in love with the country, its people and wildlife. Having gained a BSc in Animal Behaviour and Welfare at University Sarah studied ground squirrels on the NamibRand Nature Reserve for a year before returning to the UK to complete her masters in Animal Behaviour at Manchester Metropolitan University.

She then returned to Namibia to work on an environmental impact assessment on the potential impacts of mining on brown hyenas within the Sperrgebiet National Park, with the Brown Hyena Research Project, Luderitz, southern Namibia. After spending a year researching forest ecology in Cambodia, and working on an environmental impact assessment within the Sperrgebiet National Park she returned to Namibia to complete her PhD in human-wildlife conflict on commercial farmlands bordering the Namib-Naukluft and Sperrgebiet National Parks in southern Namibia with the Brown Hyena Research Project.

After completion of her PhD, Sarah was awarded a post-doctoral fellowship with the Centre for Wildlife Management of University of Pretoria which she completed in collaboration with the Cheetah Research Project of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in east-central Namibia. During the two year fellowship Sarah worked on advancing methods for modelling cheetah abundance, spatial density estimation of leopard and serval within Khaudum National Park and leopard occupancy analyse within the Gondwana Canyon Park.

Sarah will be running the AfriCat brown hyena research project which aims to gain a better understanding of the spatial and social ecology of this misunderstood species when living in a closed reserve.

Justina Kaghuvi

AfriCat House-keeping & Office Assistant

I am from Rundu – in the Kavango region, North-eastern Namibia. I found this position during the time my ex-boyfriend worked for Okonjima. I started working at AfriCat in the beginning of 2001 and have never looked back. Everyone at AfriCat is very friendly and helpful and always treat me well. Working at AfriCat teaches me and my child, who attends the local Perivoli Okonjima Country School –  to love and care for animals.

Andries Garab

AfriCat Carnivore Care Centre Assistant

Andries Garab is a 28 year old young man, who hails from the beautiful town of Otjiwarongo, in central Namibia. Although I was born and bred in a town, my heart was always after working and living in the bush and doing farm work and that is how I found Okonjima and AfriCat. I was thrilled to start working for AfriCat last year in October. I enjoy my duties of feeding the cats and making sure their health is excellent and their camps are clean and up to standard. I have grown to love the concept of conservation and I am very happy to say that I am lucky to be part of the team that is making a significant impact for these carnivores in the long-run.

Michael Kudumo

AfriCat Carnivore Care Centre Caretaker

Michael Kudumo, is young man from Northern Namibia in Rundu, who came to Okonjima/AfriCat as a contractor to help with de-bushing within our Carnivore Care Centre. Michael was fascinated to see the cheetahs for the first time and was very interested to get to learn more about them. In August of 2017, Michael was appointed as assistant carnivore caretaker and since then he has flourished and learned the in’s & outs of feeding, observing and making sure that all carnivores are in a good condition. Michael says working for AfriCat Foundation is the best thing that happened in his life in a very long time.

OUR AFRICAT NORTH TEAM

Jackson Kavetu

AfriCat Lion Guard

From his position as  community game-guard in the Ehirovipuka Conservancy, Jackson joined AfriCat in 2014 and has diligently worked his way up to the position of Senior Lion Guard in the AfriCat Communal Carnivore Conservation Programme (CCCP); he leads one of AfriCat’s Rapid-Reponse Units, ready to assist farmers with carnivore conflict, guiding them to improved livestock protection and greater tolerance of conflict species such as lion and elephant. Jackson’s understanding of and deep-seated passion for the conservation of all wildlife, has gained him respect amongst communal farming communities.

A goat- and cattle-farmer in his own right, Jackson puts into practice the livestock protection methods tried and tested by AfriCat, thus able to advise and convince a number of communities of their value and success. Jackson initiated the West-Etosha fence-repair Programme,  a collaborative effort involving the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET), communal farmers and AfriCat. The regular maintenance and repair of sections flattened by migrating elephant and holes dug under the fence by burrowing animals, effectively reduces the number of lions and spotted hyaena from leaving the safety of the Etosha NP.

Titus Turitjo

AfriCat Lion Guard

One is the first Lion Guards elected to the AfriCat Communal Carnivore Conservation Programme (CCCP) in 2012, Titus’ vast range extends along Etosha’s western boundary with Conservancy farmland. A relatively well-populated farming area, Titus monitors lion movement and conflict issues on horse-back; his trusted steed, Okondja (meaning ‘Struggle to Survive’) is supported by AfriCat – Riding tack, immunization, wound and fly-repellant are regularly needed to keep both horse and rider in the field. Before Titus joined AfriCat, his area was well-known for chasing down lions that crossed from Etosha onto farmland, on horse-back.

These farmers often find themselves in conflict with Lions and Spotted Hyaena, due to the presence of a perennial waterhole which lies only 2km west of the Etosha boundary fence. Titus’ presence and the community’s commitment to improved livestock protection since the AfriCat kraal was completed 2013, is evident in reduced farmer-lion conflict resulting in greater tolerance of lions.

Uezekandavii Nguezeeta aka Kandavii

AfriCat Lion Guard

Lions leave the confines of the Hobatere Concession Area (a wildlife Protect Area adjacent to Etosha-west), along the porous southern and western boundaries. Farming Communities live in close proximity to these boundaries, suffering livestock loss to lions and other carnivores. Kandavii was elected to assist AfriCat in 2014, from a community that lies in the conflict ‘hot-spot’, approximately 6 kms west of the Hobatere Protected Area. Their Headman, Kandavii’s uncle, is an avid supporter of AfriCat’s Livestock Protection Programme, with minimal persecution of carnivores. Such commitment was rewarded by AfriCat with three separate community kraals erected since 2014, and the develolment of an AfriCat supported pre- and Lower-Primary school for children from the immediate area.

Kandavii spends the majority of his time on foot, patrolling an arid, rocky area where lions not only move in from Protected Areas but also free-range, sharing this wilderness habitat with the local farming communities and their livestock. Kandavii’s monitoring of lion movements in his area will lead to an increased number of GPS-collared individuals and an improved Early-Warning System for farmers further afield.

Scott Vepanguriruaije Kapi

AfriCat Lion Guard

Scott completed his education at a country school, with dreams of returning to his family’s farm to breed up a high quality herd of goats. He soon discovered that due to drought, disease and predators, this is no easy task. Scott joined the Veterinary Disease Control team during the Foot-and-Mouth outbreak, spraying vehicles passing back and forth at the Kamdescha Veterinary Control Gate – it was there that Scott met the AfriCat Lion Guards and decided that Wildlife Conservation  and the protection of Namibia’s valuable natural resources, also through increased tourism revenue, could just be the angle needed to compliment livestock farming, especially in the arid regions of Namibia’s northwest.
 
Scott joined AfriCat as a Lion Guard during early 2014 and has become a true ambassador to his people and wild Lions, maintaining his love for and desire to make Livestock farming a successful business despite the hardships and challenges he faces on a daily basis. Scott’s home, as well as other communal farming communities, are often hard-hit by lions from both Hobatere and other ephemeral river systems further west.  Farming is however, an integral part of their lives and Scott has made it his personal challenge, to find ways to farm & co-exist with lions and other conflict species; inevitably, losses occur on both sides but he is adamant that Education is the key to changing mind-set amongst the younger generation farmer. Leading an innovative Young Farmers Group, Scott believes that adaptive livestock management, learning from his elders yet ringing the changes, especially embracing the protection of wildlife as his heritage and his responsibility, is the only way forward.

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