MEET THE FAMILY
For generations, the Hanssen Family had been avid cattle farmers until the need for solutions to increasing livestock losses and post-independence interest in Namibia as a tourist destination, changed the face of Okonjima, as well as that of Carnivore Conservation.
Our dream is to turn our 55 000acre (200km²) private, Nature Reserve on Okonjima – that was once denuded farmland, back to it’s natural state, last seen 200 years ago. This dream must be sustainable and a benefit to local communities for it to survive the tide of change in Africa. This ongoing project headed by the Hanssen Family has nearly removed all internal fences and the management of water resources, hides, the removal of undesirable bush encroachment and new bush roads is ongoing.
Wayne 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!
Donne Lee Hanssen
Has brought her skills to bear in the re-organisation of AfriCat, particularly in raising the Foundation’s profile and bringing it closer to Okonjima’s guests and the general public. She is responsible for the new image which the Foundation now represents since 2010. Donna is also involved in the day to day management of the Foundation, which includes the welfare of the ambassador carnivores, the research projects and the environmental education programme
Marketing & Management Coordinator – Joined Team Okonjima AfriCat in 1999
Tristan is involved in the daily running of AfriCat and the marketing of the Okonjima Nature reserve and the Lodge and its legacy with Okonjima guests. He also works on increasing the organisation’s public profile in order to stimulate donations. He and the rest of the Okonjima AfriCat Team work hand in hand to ensure that AfriCat meets its maximum potential in the realm of Carnivore Conservation and Education.
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.
Responsible for maintaining the Board records of the Foundation. Karen has worked for and with the UN since 1990.
MEET OUR VETERINARIANS
Dr Diethard Rodenwoldt
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 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
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
Dr Gerhard Steenkamp
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
Zoology/Botany, University of Pretoria 1988
BVSc Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria 1994
MSc Zoology, University of Pretoria 2008 Cum Lau
OUR AFRICAT TEAM
As AfriCat’s office administrator, Selma assists the accounts department with all incoming donations and payments and is responsible for all communication between AfriCat and our donors, AfriCat staff issues, as well as overseeing the Carnivore Care & Information Centre and its daily running.
Selma also assists Okonjima in the reservation department and welcomes all donors who visit Okonjima to experience firsthand the work AfriCat is involved with in the 20 000ha Nature Reserve.
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.
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.
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.
Kelsey grew up immersed in nature on a small lake in the United States, this is what developed her passion for nature and wildlife, ultimately bringing her to Namibia. She received her BSc in Zoology and Environmental Biology and BA in German at Michigan State University in 2013. After graduation, she was ready to jump into the field of zoology to further expand her experience and see which direction in conservation she would like to go for graduate studies. She has worked a variety of positions ranging from zoos to sanctuaries to conservation centers focusing on large carnivores. These experiences honed her interest to focus on endangered species conservation.
In 2016, after spending a year working with a field conservation program under San Diego Zoo Global in Hawaii, Kelsey had the opportunity to come to Namibia to work in cheetah conservation, and so this began her Namibian story. The initial visit was a temporary position managing a sanctuary and conservation center in the south of Namibia while the managers were on holiday. Shortly upon her return to the United States, she was offered to come back to take over the center full-time. Following her passion for carnivores and conservation she moved to Namibia in 2016 and has been here ever since.
Kelsey is currently pursuing her Masters of Natural Resource Management as the Namibia University of Science and Technology. Her studies and research go hand in hand here at AfriCat while she furthers our knowledge base on rare and endangered species.
Kelsey joined the team in August 2018 to help take on the AfriCat Pangolin Project which aims to learn more about these nocturnal and elusive creatures and help provide a base of scientific knowledge from which we can better help save this species from the horrendous wildlife trafficking trade.