Report of Visit by Tammy Hoth-Hanssen, Director of AfriCat Namibia, to the UK October 2014.
It was wonderful that Tammy was able to visit the UK in October 2014 and AfriCat UK arranged a varied programme of activities talks, meetings and events, keeping her very busy!
The Conservation through Education theme was brought to the UK as Tammy met with and talked to pupils from four different schools.
- Tammy was welcomed back to Hampton School for a 'follow up' talk to pupils. A group from the school had visited AfriCat North in July 2014. They had raised funds for a lion collar and while there built a kraal. The school was keen to learn about the progress with the lion research project in AfriCat North and plans have been made for the school to get regular updates on the lion wearing 'their' collar's activities.
- A meeting was held at Dr Challoner's Grammar School who will be visiting AfriCat HQ and AfriCat North in 2015. The boys and staff visiting were able to hear about the project first hand, discuss what they would like to do and have their questions answered. Organized through Nick Joynes plans are being made for a talk to a wider local audience and other fundraising activity to take place before the school leave for their trip.
- A talk with the lower school at Downe House was arranged, the girls here were interested to hear about the work AfriCat does and enjoyed the pictures. The girls found the fact that AfriCat needed to balance the needs of the farmer and the wildlife interesting. An informal discussion with some older pupils looked at longer term work and career options in this field and how useful all kinds of related voluntary or paid experience can be.
- The boys at Moulsford Prep School enjoyed talking with Tammy about lions and the work involved in trying to put collars on them. They had plenty of questions not just about carnivores but also in relation to poaching. One pupil recalled the impact of his visit to AfriCat HQ made with Mouslford prep in 2009 when he was very young.
As well as spreading the word on conservation Tammy met up with a range of organizations, sharing experiences and building links that will support the work of AfriCat and more generally conservation in Africa. This included
- Catching up with Tusk Trust who have provided a range of funds for different projects over the years and are currently helping with the Environmental Education Officer based at AfriCat HQ. AfriCat is one of the projects that Tusk Trust fund, the support provided it highly valued by AfriCat.
- A meeting with Lion Aid to share and explore ideas/options for ways of helping to stem the tide in the decline in the number of lions worldwide.
- A discussion with Will Travers from the Born Free Foundation sharing experiences and issues with kraal building and working with local communities. There was considerable common ground but differing solutions accommodating cultural differences and environmental conditions. For example the problems with termites are less acute in Namibia and the kraals are just for animals not whole villages, which is the case in East Africa. Key to success in both areas was working with the community's chief and getting their and their people to buy in to the project.
- Meeting up with AfriCat's patrons Lorraine Kelly and Chris Packham provided an opportunity to share ideas and thoughts for the future and thank them for their ongoing support for the work of AfriCat and the help they provide AfriCat UK with the current list of projects which include:
- The lion study linked to Human Wildlife mitigation
- The lion guards
- The projects with the painted or cape hunting dogs and wildlife mitigation
- The predator and prey density study at AfriCat HQ
- Reducing the incidence of cheetah fly with the ambassador cheetah and those awaiting rehabilitation in the park
- Helping to build a new school for a community that is working with AfriCat
- Environmental education
- The work to restore the more 'natural' habitat and reduce the bush encroachment at Okonjima
Funds and fund raising are an important part of any overseas trip. Tammy was able to meet up with some individuals and organizations that may be able to help with funding in both the short and longer term. The Big Cats: keeping them wild talk by Chris Packham on the 17th October at the RGS in London provided the main focus of fundraising activity organized by Africat UK as a part of Tammy's visit. Feedback confirms that those attending found it informative and enjoyable and thanks goes to the main sponsors of the event (Chris Packham, Expert Africa, Namibian Tourist Board, Naturally Namibia and Air Namibia) and the other stand holders Hamish Mackie with his sculpture and a fascinating display of confiscated wildlife items brought into this country illegally - very much enjoyed by many of the pupils who attended from the schools Tammy had talked too.
AfriCat UK look forward to welcoming Tammy back for future visits.
For more news stories and information please visit the AfriCat website: www.africat.org