Okonjima lies in the Omboroko Mountains in the Waterberg Plateau of central-north Namibia. Okonjima is a Herero name meaning ‘Place of the Baboons’. It is home to the Africat Foundation which is famous for research and rehabilitation of cheetahs and leopards that roam freely in the reserve.
The area became internationally renowned after featuring in an award-winning documentary filmed for the Discovery Channel in 1995. Namibia is home to the world’s largest wild/free-ranging cheetah population; the majority of this country’s cheetahs and leopards can be found on approximately 7,000 commercial farms. These large carnivores occasionally prey upon the livestock that roam unprotected in the veld. As a result, carnivores are often regarded as vermin by the livestock and game-farming community and are deliberately trapped and/or killed.
Okonjima has forged links with this community and is working with them to preserve these big cats. Africat has also taken on a large number of captive cats/carnivores no longer wanted by other establishments. Among the carnivores being rescued, researched and rehabilitated by Africat are cheetah, leopard, lion, caracal, wild dog and hyena. Okonjima is a family-run business. Wayne, Donna and Rosalea Hanssen bought Okonjima from their parents, Val and Rose in 1993 turning the then cattle farm into a conservation project. Africat has saved more than 850 cats since 1993.