Wildlife in Africa has become increasingly threatened and in many cases such as the big cats, endangered by the actions of the human race. This problem is getting worse as humans further encroach upon the natural habitats of these animals and compete for resources. Namibia is a big farming and hunting country. Ranchers often trap, shoot or poison lions, leopards and cheetahs that are perceived as threats to the ranchers' livestock. Hunters and poachers often kill the healthy adult wildlife. Some animals survive this assault but are at risk of losing their lives or their permanent injuries are so severe that they can no longer hunt or protect themselves. Many of the animals killed have orphaned offspring that suffer the same fate. Fortunately, some of these animals along with illegal exotic pets find their way to the Harnas Wildlife Foundation sanctuary.
Some animals rescued by Harnas can eventually be relocated and released while others undergo a rehabilitative program designed to gradually introduce them to the most natural enclosures that the condition of the animal dictates.
Harnas originally began as a farm. The transition to a wildlife refuge and eventual wildlife foundation santuary first began over 30 years ago when Marieta van der Merwe, founder, rescued a baby vervet monkey that was being kept as a pet illegally. Today, over 350 wild as well as abandoned domestic animals are being cared for at Harnas.
Harnas is particularly concerned with cheetahs and African wild dogs, both which are highly endangered species with dwindling numbers in the wild. Harnas participates in genetic research of the African wild dogs for bio-medical data, disease screening and other genetic tracking. Harnas has one of the few growing African wild dog populations in Africa.
Harnas has also created the Lifeline project for the release of rehabilitated predator animals. Here, the animals are released into a protected habitat the size of a city, such as Manhattan, which is stocked with prey animals. This acts as their soft release into the wild. These animals are tracked with GPS collars to better understand their movement patterns, behaviors and success in the Lifeline. This has been especially important and successful for the orphaned cheetahs that had to be raised by humans. For example, Pride is a cheetah who was raised by people and with lion cubs. As a result, she no longer has a natural fear of humans or other predators which would puts her at risk of being killed or hunted if she were released into the unprotected wild. Having been released into the Lifeline in 2010, Pride has exceeded all expectations and has proven herself to be a highly successful hunter as well as mother of two offspring (one of which is her own and the other is an orphan she adopted). She paves the way for her offspring to remain wild in their ways which should allow for them to be released to the wild someday!
With a variety of animals getting second chances at living out their lives in the best environments possible, Harnas needs over $250 USD per day just to feed all the animals. Additional costs are incurred for everyday santuary operations such as veterinary expenses, rescue transports and permits, research equipment, fencing, stocking game, support staff and GPS radio collars for the rehabilitation and ultimate release of animals.
Watch Video of Pride Adopting a Wild Orphan Cub at Harnas Gobabis