A Visit to the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia

A Visit to the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia

​I first heard about Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) from a fantastic post by Wayfaring Views and knew that I had to visit during my trip to Namibia. Founded in 1990, the CCF has created a set of integrated, evidence-based programs focused on saving the cheetah from extinction. 
​CCF is a nonprofit organization founded by Dr. Laurie Marker to help conserve the dwindling numbers of cheetah in Namibia. In the 1980s, thousands of cheetahs were killed, a large number by farmers who blamed them for killing their livestock. Dr. Marker knew that Namibian farmers themselves would be key to protecting cheetah and ultimately increasing their numbers. To this end, Dr. Marker began talking to local farmers.
I first heard about Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) from a fantastic post by Wayfaring Views and knew that I had to visit during my trip to Namibia. Founded in 1990, the CCF has created a set of integrated, evidence-based programs focused on saving the cheetah from extinction. 
​CCF is a nonprofit organization founded by Dr. Laurie Marker to help conserve the dwindling numbers of cheetah in Namibia. In the 1980s, thousands of cheetahs were killed, a large number by farmers who blamed them for killing their livestock. Dr. Marker knew that Namibian farmers themselves would be key to protecting cheetah and ultimately increasing their numbers. To this end, Dr. Marker began talking to local farmers.
Over time, Dr. Marker and her team created a plan that now includes:
1. Educating farmers – CCF educates farmers about cheetah as well as how to identify which predator actually killed their livestock. Cheetahs are shown to be responsible for only 3% of predation of livestock. Farmer collectives have also been formed in effort to further decrease human wildlife conflict.
​2. Dog breeding – CCF breeds, raises, and trains Anatolian shepherd and Kangal dogs that will help to protect livestock from predators. They sell these dogs for a small fee to local farmers. Their waiting list is now in the hundreds and hundreds of dogs have been placed so far.
3. Research – CCF contributes to the cheetah census, helps to locate cheetahs in the wild, and studies cheetah health, behavior, and habitat restoration. They are able to conduct their own research in their on-site genetics lab.

​5. Education – CCF visits classrooms around the country as well as hosts student groups at their site to help educate others about cheetah conservation.

​6. Environmental conservation – CCF understands the importance of saving the environment to save the cheetah and so they are committed to doing their part. For example, CCF removes overgrown native thornbushes and uses them to manufacture Bushblok, a high-heat, low-emission log to burn for fuel and cooking.

​Overall, CCF aims to change attitudes, conserve habitat, and work with the community to save Namibian cheetah.

FACT: An ultra-flexible spine, a tail like a rudder, long legs, and semi-retractable claws allow the cheetah to run up to 110 kmh/70mph. It is the fastest land animal in the world. 

A Night in the Kalahari: Kalahari Anib Lodge in Namibia

​This is the first in a series of posts focused on accommodations across Namibia. If you haven’t been to this beautiful Southern African country, you are missing out! It’s affordable, the people are kind, the wildlife is plentiful, and the landscape is out of this world. If you are looking to explore Namibia, the properties in this series will each provide you with a comfortable home base to recharge between adventures.
​One of the accommodations I was most excited about was located in the iconic Kalahari Desert. The red sands, the sunsets, and the wildlife make this part of Namibia simply magical. And right in the middle of it? The beautiful Kalahari Anib Lodge.
​The Kalahari Anib is one of 15 Gondwana Collection properties throughout Namibia. Known for their hospitality, Gondwana is focused on conservation and sustainability while still offering all the comfort and amenities weary travelers prefer.
​Kalahari Anib is located in eastern Namibia and is reached easily by car. After a drive of about 30 km from Mariental, we were greeted by the beautifully landscaped grounds of Kalahari Anib, which is an oasis in the red desert sands.
We were scheduled for a sunset game drive with Jurgens, the park manager, who was so knowledgeable and answered our many questions about the birds and animals, the sand and landscape, and the abundant plants and trees. We were surprised to see the wide variety of animals and plants in the desert but it was the red sand that had us hooked. Jurgens told us that the iron particles in the sand oxidize to the rusty red color in the rain; it is beautiful, especially at sunset. During our drive, we saw giraffe, gnu (wildebeest), zebra, kudu, springbok, and even eland, the largest antelope in Africa. I was most excited to see oryx though (also called gemsbok), which I had never seen before and is Namibia’s national animal. We were also not disappointed as birders either, as we saw korhaan and the giant nests of sociable weaver birds.
​After an incredible drive and a spectacular sunset, we headed back to the lodge for dinner. The dining room and bar area of Kalahari Anib is ample, complete with outdoor seating. The buffets were delicious with plentiful choices to suit all tastes. The staff employed at the lodge offered excellent service and were attentive and kind on all accounts.
Back in our room, we got a lovely night’s sleep. The room was private and quiet, with a firm mattress and mosquito net surrounding the bed. Like the rest of the lodge, the rooms at Kalahari Anib are tastefully decorated, comfortable and clean. Our room included aircon, a safe, bathroom with shower, and bright sliding doors leading to a private veranda with a fun hanging chair in addition to a bench and table perfect for reading and relaxing.
​Kalahari Anib has ample outdoor space that is well-maintained. The grounds include two pools as well as several hiking trails for those who would like to do some exploring on their own. We opted for another game drive in the morning instead and once again, were not disappointed with the beautiful sunrise and wide variety of wildlife.
Kalahari Anib Lodge was a fantastic start to our Namibian adventure! We thought it was our favorite because it was our first lodge but it held up throughout our time in Namibia and ended up as one of our top three favorite accommodations of the trip. (Read about the second and the third as well!) While all Gondwana Collection properties are fantastic, Kalahari Anib is special, so be sure to book a stay here when in Namibia.
Tips:

  • Stay at least two nights at Kalahari Anib to enjoy game drives but also spend time relaxing at the pools and on your terrace.
  • Be sure to visit the gift shop!
  • Don’t be afraid to rent a car and drive yourself from Windhoek to Kalahari Anib Lodge; it is accessible with a sedan but you’ll be most comfortable in a high-profile vehicle or 4×4 throughout Namibia. The lodge is easy to find from signs along the B1.
  • Opt for a Comfort level room if you can for some extra luxury.
Thanks to Kalahari Anib for offering one of us a complimentary stay. As always, our opinions are honest and our own.
Have you been to Namibia? Where was your favorite place to stay? What makes an accommodation excellent in your opinion? Let me know in the comments below!
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