Thursday, June 21, 2012

Rescue and release of a Brown Hyena
On 25th January a group of volunteers and our head researcher Flo Weise collected a brown hyena from a farm in Otjompaue.  A few calves had been bitten and a few killed on the farm.  Having noticed hyena tracks around, the farmer set up a trap.  He caught it successfully but didn’t want to kill it, so gave us a call.
The hyena was female and old (between 7-9 years old).  She was immobilised so that we could attach a collar (sponsored by Chester Zoo in the UK) and give her a thorough examination before release.   We regularly check her movements through the GPS collar to make sure she is not causing any conflict on commercial farmland.
The Release of Tyson, the leopard
Tyson was trapped on a private cattle ranch near N/a’an ku sê.  In 2011 the farmer discovered a calf who he suspected had been killed by the leopard.  He therefore decided to trap it, using the remains of the calf as bait.  Within 24 hours the leopard was captured. No further cases of livestock predation have occurred on the cattle ranch since. Furthermore, footprint assessments at the kill and capture sites indicated that the responsible leopard had been trapped.  As part of their partnership with the N/a’an ku sê Carnivore Conservation research program, the owners agreed to refrain from trapping five other leopards known to be on the property, including an adult female with two cubs.
Tyson was re-released with a GPS collar (sponsored by Chester Zoo, UK) and we are downloading regular updates on his movements to ensure he is not causing any conflict on commercial farmland.  National Geographic have published an article on Tyson’s release:  Leopard given GPS collar after capture on Namibian cattle ranch
Kirsty and her cheetah cubs are released
We are delighted to announce that on Tuesday 24th March Kirsty and her three cubs were released back into the wild, where they belong! They came to us in December as a farmer asked us to translocate them because they were preying on the springbok on his game farm near Otjiwarongo. Kirsty, the mother, is around 5-6 years old, very large (45kg) and healthy. When she arrived her cubs were only 9-12 months old.  When cheetahs are relocated they will spend time scoping out there new surroundings and travel more in a day than they do once they are settled.  Due to the size of the cubs we thought it would be best to put them in a temporary holding camp for 3 months until the cheetah cubs were strong enough to move with Kirsty on her explorations.  We ensured there was minimum human contact to assist their success upon release.  Kirsty has been fitted with a GPS tracking collar (sponsored by Sirtrack) and we can already see that she is doing very well in her new habitat. 

Sandy the cheetah
Sandy along with her sister Rusty and Mother Laura arrived at N/a'an ku se in early 2010 after being trapped by a farmer for hunting on his game farm. They spent the next year and a half at N/a'an ku sê's wildlife sanctuary. With the two cubs now two years old the family made the move to the Namib Carnivore Conservation Centre (NCCC) in December 2011 with a view to a possible release back to the wild. During her first two months in the NCCC's 500 hectare soft release enclosure Sandy enjoyed exploring her new home and along with her mother and sister hunted a couple of Jackals that had made the mistake of entering the enclosure.  

In early April 2012 Sandy started to not eat any food given to her; after a week of not eating a full meal Sandy became lethargic and her condition quickly deteriorated. NCCC staff and volunteers then made a huge all day effort in the pouring rain to place Sandy in a transport cage. Sandy was then immediately taken to Windhoek to receive intensive veterinary treatment. Ultrasound scans and blood and faecal tests all could not diagnose the problem.  It was a complete mystery as to why Sandy was ill. Food was pumped into Sandy's stomach and we all hoped for her condition to improve. However, heartbreakingly, Sandy died the following morning.   A necropsy was carried out where the cause of death was found to be a fibrotic band around her duodenum, the cause was unknown and there was no indication of trauma of infection. Sadly this was one of those rare occurrences where nothing could have been done to prevent the outcome. 

Loosing this beautiful young cat was devastating for all of us here at N/a'n ku se especially after all the effort that was made to treat her. However we shall remember her fondly and continue our work to ensure more cats including Sandy's mother and sister have the chance to stay in the wild where they belong. 

Three Cheetah cubs arrive at N/a’an ku sê

On 18th April we received a phone call from someone who had captured three cheetah cubs a couple of hours away from N/a'an ku se. they had been captured without their mother and were too small to be re-released straight away.   We have released them into one of our enclosures and are hoping not to interact with them too much in order to give them the best possible chance of release when they are old enough.

Ku sê the Vulture needs your help! 

He is a Lappet-faced Vulture who was bought to N/a’an ku sê in October 2011 at only a few months old.  He had fallen out of his nest and his mother was nowhere to be found.  We transferred Ku sê to the Rare and Endangered Species Trust who have been rehabilitating him.  Now he is ready for release and we need to track him.  Unfortunately we have just received sad news that poor Ku sê was recently attacked by wild baboons whilst in his cage at the REST Sanctuary where he is based.   When found, he was rushed to the vets and operated on, where he lost a lot of blood and lost a toe from each foot.   He is back at REST recovering and being looked after well. His release has been delayed by at least 3 months, but we still need your donations to track Ku sê!

He  will be the first partially hand-reared Lappet-faced vulture to be released and tracked.  We have secured funds for his release and tracking device, but downloading the information from his tracking device will cost another $2000USD ($16,800NAD).  Can you help?  To donate please click here.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

At the end of October we did our 40th release of a collared carnivore. A cheetah, Boris, who had spent the last months in our soft-release boma in Solitaire, was released back into the wild.

Watch this video for the whole story:

Monday, January 16, 2012

Camera trap photos

This zebra doesn't know that there is a predator under that rock it is approaching...

Serval release

In October we received a very special animal: A serval cat was accidentally captured on a hunting property near Windhoek as part of jackal control operations. 

Leopard with no tail

In October also we received a female leopard with no tail. Head researcher Florian and volunteer Martin drove over 800km round trip on one day to collect the leopard. She was captured on a farm near Otavi, where farmers had lost a calf and it as bait in the trap to capture the problem leopard. This farmer is generally predator friendly and does not randomly remove animals, they are aware of at least 4-5 leopards continually on their farm and never experienced any problems with them prior to this calf predation incident. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Wild Dog Conservation Initiative

The African Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus) is one of the continent’s most threatened large predators and Namibia’s free-ranging population is consistently estimated at a critically low level of between approximately 200 and 600 animals in less than 50 breeding units which mostly occur outside of formally protected areas (R. Lines, personal communication; Stander 2003; Woodroffe et al 2004). The present surviving population of wild dogs is severely fragmented and is highly unlikely to re-colonise areas that they used to inhabit by natural migration.

With these alarming figures, the importance of the captive population may become more paramount as a genetic reservoir, for research, and for reintroductions of the species. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Release of a Lifetime

Saturday 25th June saw the beginning of one of the biggest translocation and release programmes ever attempted in Namibia and certainly the biggest release operations at N/a'an ku se. 7 cheetahs and 1 leopard. 2 release sites. Our convoy clocked up a total  of 5,268km travelling through 3 regions and 7 districts of the country. All in just 8 days. N/a’an ku sê has never embarked on a challenge to relocate so many big cats at the same time. But we’re never one to shy away from a challenge...

Every moment of the release was filmed by Homebew Films for Animal Planet who covered the event for 2 episodes of our new television series to be aired on Animal Planet across Africa, NBC in Namibia and KykNET across sub-Sahara Africa in March 2012. 

Read on for all the details and photos from the whole week: