First things first, thank you for stopping by and welcome to the official Namib Carnivore Conservation Centre blog! Let me begin by answering the most pressing question you may have…. what exactly is the Namib Carnivore Conservation Centre?
The NCCC is a unique carnivore research and education project based in Southern Namibia and formed from the partnership between the N/a’an ku se Foundation and Solitaire Guest Farm Desert Ranch (where the Centre is based). The NCCC is part of N/a’an Ku se’s ongoing Carnivore Conservation Research Project that started in 2008. The aim of this project is to solve human-wildlife conflicts in Namibia through sound scientific research on densities, home ranges and territories of Cheetahs, Leopards and Hyena.
To contribute to this project our key aims are:
· To promote the rehabilitation and reintroduction of large carnivores back to the wild.
· To provide assistance with mitigating human-wildlife conflict.
· To conduct a thorough study of the Solitaire Guest Farm’s large carnivore and game populations, and monitor them over time.
· To carry out low impact eco-tourism to educate, inspire, and help provide funds for ongoing research projects.
· To create partnerships with universities and colleges to provide student internships.
Solitaire Guest Farm is located 6km away from the small town of Solitaire in the foot of the Rantberg Mountains and just outside the border of the Namib Naukluft Park.
The Guest Farm was established in 2004 and is owned by Walter and Simone Swarts. The Swarts have always been passionate about wildlife and always envisioned their facility to be able to sustain conservation through low impact eco-tourism. They became good friends with N/a’an ku se’s directors Dr Rudie and Marlice van Vuuren and made their land available for the NCC earlier this year. Work at the Guest Farm was soon underway and six months later a 500ha enclosure had been completed to be used to hold formally captive cheetahs as they undergo an environmental adjustment period before being released back to the wild, this process is also known as a ‘soft release’. In the future we may be a location to release leopards, however, due to being stronger and tougher animals leopards can be released straight to the wild without an adjustment period (hard release).
The NCCC started on the 27th of June 2011 when 4 cheetahs were transported from N/a’an ku se’s wildlife sanctuary near Windhoek and placed into the NCCC’s ‘soft release’ holding camp. You can read all about this exciting day by reading this entry on N/a’an ku se’s official blog.
Two N/a'an ku se biologists are stationed at the NCCC, Kate Echement and Matt Cleverley - the author of this well written introduction :) Kate and I are responsible for the monitoring and husbandry of the cheetahs, taking tourists on cheetah tracking safaris, collecting data for research projects and supervising volunteers.
The cheetah tracking safaris the NCCC offers tourists involves finding the cats via radio-telemetry and then walking on foot through the bush to see the cats. The guests to date have absolutely loved this truly unique experience with many giving donations and wanting to return to the NCCC as volunteers.
As part of our research we have placed camera traps around the site and have already captured great photos of Leopard, Spotted Hyena, Brown Hyena, Caracal and Bat-Eared Fox.