Okonjima Private Reserve
Okonjima Private Reserve lies to the west of the Waterberg Plateau. The main goal of the reserve is the long-term conservation of the large carnivores.The open plains in this area are largely broken up by sandstone outcrops that once covered much of the country.
The Africat Foundation is based here, and they rescue, relocate and rehabilitate problem big cats, as well as raising awareness of the problems with doing this. The country has the largest population of free-ranging cheetah, and these kill livestock, causing trouble with the local farmers who attempt to exterminate these carnivores, thus depleting the population.
Visitors to the reserve are guaranteed to see leopard and cheetah, more recently spotted hyena have been released into the park. Many of the animals that have been introduced to the area can be tracked on special trails, using radio signals from collars that have been fitted to them. This is an unforgettable experience, and the rush of adrenaline that arises from stalking some of the most magnificent mammals in the world is electrifying.
Other animals that are rescued by this foundation include lion, caracal, wild dog and hyena.
The other mammals in the area are also outstanding, and include everything from caracal to porcupine, with some interesting smaller mammals such as rock hyrax and many different types of mongoose that live amongst the rocks. Results of research done by the Okonjima team over the last 7yrs indicate many large carnivores, despite being born in captivity, can adapt to hunting in the wild. The presence of other large predators in the 4500 hectare Okonjima Reserve pose a threat to the survival of the cheetah however, which is a more submissive large predator.
For keen birders, there is an abundance of bird-life here, with more than 250 species having been identified. Of the country’s endemic birds, several can be found here including the Carp’s Black Tit, Hartlaub’s Francolin and Damarara Rock Runner.
It is also possible to walk with local Bushmen for a day, and to learn a bit about their traditions and ways of life. Extremely interesting and easy going for those who don’t want to hike for miles, participation in craft-making is encouraged, and this is an experience that will not be easy to forget. If you’re interested in the Khoisan culture, check out the Damaraland rock paintings for a fascinating insight on their ancient culture.
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