A third of the world’s cheetahs – around 3,500 – roam the savannah lands of Namibia, predominantly on communal and commercial farms. Africa’s most endangered cat is a protected species in Namibia, but there are ongoing conflicts between these powerful hunters and people when livestock is threatened or killed. Loss of habitat and prey is another problem cheetahs face, as the increase in livestock rearing, and subsequent overgrazing has resulted in bush encroachment. Recent expansion of game fencing has also affected the availability of food.
At the forefront of conservation efforts in Namibia, and the global leader in cheetah research and education, is the Cheetah Conservation Fund (daily 8am–5pm; N$180; t 067 306225, w cheetah.org), 44km east of Otjiwarongo, which is well worth a visit; if driving, turn east off the B1, onto the sandy D2440, just north of Otjiwarongo. The entry fee includes an excellent two-hour guided walking tour round the large enclosures, where around fifty rescue cheetahs are kept, though good sightings of these splendid beasts depend on whether they happen to be prowling or lounging close to the perimeter fence. Arriving at feeding time (2pm weekdays, noon at weekends) will increase your chances, or signing up for the hour-long cheetah drive option (N$480, including entry). You’ll also be taken to see the veterinary clinic and livestock dogs, one of the centre’s most successful programmes, in which Kangal and Anatolian Shepherd dogs are trained to live among livestock and bark to scare off predators, thus safeguarding the farmer’s livelihood, while saving the cheetah from a likely bullet. Around five hundred dogs are now living on farms, with impressive results. Another highlight is the Dancing Goat Creamery – one of several model farms used to help share predator-friendly management practices. Make sure you stock up on some of their superb feta or goat’s cheese; they even produce fudge. Then, after trying to absorb all the information in the new interactive cheetah museum, you’ll probably be ready for a cup of coffee and a bite to eat in the café.