Aktion Sonnenstern is the annual Charity Drive of Hitradio Namibia.
The 4th Aktion Sonnenstern too take place from December 1 through December 24, 2015. Again, Hitradio Namibia collected your donations for registered Namibian organisations. For the first time, this will be four nature conservation and animal welfare initiatives:
- Namibia Wild Horses Foundation
- Have-A-Heart Windhoek
- Namibia Animal Rehabilitation Research & Education Centre
- Namibian Dolphin Project
More than N$ 400,000 were donated during the 2015 Aktion Sonnenstern.
The “Have‐a‐Heart Windhoek spay and neuter project” has been active in Windhoek for three years and has so far organised five so‐called “Spayathons”. Our mission is to reduce the number of stray, neglected and unwanted dogs and cats, by offering free spay and neuter services to the low and no‐income areas in Windhoek.
Twice a year we organise a spayathon and manage to sterilise approximately 100 animals. To date (September 2015) we have done more than 500 animals in the Babylon, Kilimanjaro and Okahandja Park areas. In addition to being sterilised the animals are vaccinated and treated against ticks. As from this year, we have also started monthly dipping campaigns in order to ensure that the animals, that come in for their operation are relatively healthy because animals that are suffering from tick bite fever are both difficult and risky to operate on.
It is our responsibility to raise funds to cover the costs of medication, anesthesia, instruments etc. Veterinarians from Windhoek help the project by providing their time free of charge but all other expenses have to be covered by the Have‐a‐Heart project. Furthermore we need to coordinate our activities with community leaders in the area to inform everybody accordingly.
During a spayathon our volunteers drive to the informal areas and collect the animals, which are being brought to us by their owners. All animals are then taken to the SPCA, where they are first being registered. It is then decided whether they go into surgery at the SPCA or at one of the participating private veterinary clinics. At the SPCA they are then prepped by volunteers (medication to calm them down, washing, shaving etc.). There are usually 3 – 5 veterinarians available to do the surgery.
After the operation, volunteers are ready in a separate room to assist in the recovery and waking‐up phase. As soon as the dogs and cats are fully awake and the wounds are looking good, we return them to their owners. After 4 weeks stitches are removed and re‐inoculation takes place. In other words – the whole process is a fairly complicated and lengthy one. We approach the owners to take care of their animals, and to always provide them with food, water and shelter. This education will be an ongoing process.
It costs the Have‐a‐Heart Project approximately N$ 400‐00 per animal and it is no rocket science to calculate that this undertaking costs us approximately N$ 80 000‐00 pa. Apart from that we are in the process of buying special trailers and cages to transport the animals in a safe and comfortable way as well as getting gazebos, flags, magnet stickers for our cars etc.
We humbly apply to be one of the organisations to benefit from the Aktion Sonnenstern 2015. At the same time we thank HITRADIO NAMIBIA for their continued support by providing us free airtime to keep the public informed about our activities.
In 1988 armed with veterinary para-professional and social work qualifications, I initiated NARREC. It was then the only center dedicated to assisting injured, orphaned or misplaced wildlife in Namibia. Almost at inception, NARREC considered the need for housing unreleasable animals and allowing them to be a focal point for educational programs. Over the years new species-specific centers have opened whilst NARREC has remained focussed on birds. Birds are the animals that are most often found and rescued in urban areas, on roads as well as on farmland. NAREC also receives other intakes, most often animals that are affected in urban areas such as porcupines, bats, monitor lizards, and tortoises. Animals received from confiscations in illegal trade are specifically pangolins and parrot species.
NARREC remains available to any wild animal in need or person in need of advice, has an open door policy for formal and non-formal environmental outings and from inception has developed with sustainability and alternative technologies for example NARREC is 100% solar and wind-powered.
However, for NARREC to remain current and focus in a time of emphasis on biodiversity, threatened and endangered species, sustainable living and development as well accelerating new technologies, our activities have included some innovative approaches.
For Vulture: NARREC manages a vulture feeding station in collaboration with Meatco as well as has an innovative citizen science project to report re-sighted tagged and ringed vultures. https://vulturesresightings.crowdmap.com has to date over 800 re-sightings listed.
For pangolins: besides intakes of confiscated and or found pangolins, NARREC is a member of the African Pangolin Working Group and liaise with Namibia's Ministry of Environment and Tourism for acceptance of the protocols for rescue and release as well as works with the Mundelea project that has representation on the IUCN species specialist group for pangolins, specifically looking at up-listing our Temminck's Ground Pangolin to category endangered and is the only project that is monitoring the issues around post release of these specialized animals.
For the animal welfare in general: Liz completed a course in advocacy for animal welfare offered to 2 animal workers in every SADC country in 2013 and has been part of the small team reviewing Namibia's Animal Welfare Act of 1962 in order to modernise and strengthen this piece of legislation so vital to all animals - domestic and wild.
For the large community in Namibia who work with animals: Liz Komen, NARREC, together with Jonas Shihungeleni, MAWF have initiated a veterinary para-professional association. The aim being to develop necessary advocacy by providing a platform for professional development among persons working with domestic livestock, companion animals, laboratory animals, captive wildlife and free living wild.
NARREC 's current needs and wishes include:
- Hospital and clinic refurbishment
- 3 new hospital cages
- 7 plastic transport boxes in different sized
- Trailer and winch for loading and off-loading carcasses at the vulture feeding station
- Refurbish of the 1984 Toyota Land Cruiser Pick-up that is used for the vultures as well as for NARREC in general.
The battle for a life in freedom
Fascination with the wild horses in Namibia’s south-western Namib Desert is compelling. Their origin was shrouded in mystery for decades. Their habitat, the inhospitable plains around Garub, is anything but a paradise. Nevertheless the horses have managed to adapt to the harsh conditions. Their descendants, once in the service of man, regained their freedom. They chose a life in the vastness of the desert, far away from human civilisation, following the laws of their herd.
In more recent times they have become a tourist attraction. Every year thousands of visitors watch in awe as the horses arrive with thundering hooves and flying manes to quench their thirst at the trough at Garub. They are all the more touched when in years of drought they see emaciated tired creatures... Why? Does nobody come to the rescue?
Answers are provided by the Namibia Wild Horses Foundation which was established in 2012 to raise and strengthen awareness of the horses. The driving forces behind this initiative are biologist Dr Telané Greyling and the Gondwana Collection with managing director Mannfred Goldbeck and its partners at Klein-Aus Vista. The foundation will – if need be - take take gentle anticipatory action for the preservation of the wild horses.
The wild horses have survived in their area on the fringe of the Namib for close to 100 years. They have adapted their behaviour to the meagre conditions and have developed social structures of their own. Man only provides water for them but does not interfere otherwise. There have always been periods of droughts and weaker animals did not survive. It is the principle of natural selection which helps to maintain a strong gene pool.
However, since 2012 there has been below average rainfall in the horses’ habitat. Spotted hyenas began to prey on the wild horses and the population was reduced to a number below carrying capacity. With the numbers dropping through predation as well as a potential for increased natural drought-related mortality, particularly foal mortality, the population’s vulnerability increased.
There are currently 170 horses of which 65 are breeding mares. Ideally a minimum of 50 mares have to survive and propagate to prevent genetic bottlenecks. The drought awareness and timely action with continuous monitoring and provision of nutritional supplements at an early enough stage will help to ensure the survival of these mares and thus a healthy wild horse population. Funds donated and administered by the Namibia Wild Horses Foundation are presently used to set-up suitable infrastructure for the provision of nutritional supplements in the form of a protein-mineral lick. The Foundation welcomes any horse lover who wants to contribute to the survival of the wild horses.
The Namibian Dolphin Project, which is housed by the Namibia Nature Foundation, are honoured to have been chosen as one of the beneficiaries of 2015 Aktion Sonnenstern fundraising event. As a self-funded conservation project working in the large and challenging marine environment, funding is often tight and we welcome the donations generously provided during this charity drive. Deciding on funding priorities is always a tough decision, but we have chosen a list of items (funding dependent) which we believe will provide a long lasting benefit to the conservation work we do, and enable the work we believe in to be carried out more effectively for years to come.
Depending on the amount received in donations, our funding priorities are listed as follows:
- NAD 100 000 upwards – Dedicated Namibian Dolphin Project research vehicle - A pre-owned 4 x 4 could be purchased with a donation of this amount and would be used to help launch the research boat, conduct stranding surveys along the beach, and transport researchers to coastal communities to conduct outreach events. Such an asset would be a great benefit to the project for years to come.
- NAD 30 000 – 50 000 - New good quality camera and/or lens - Much of our research depends on a data collection technique termed photo-identification, whereby individual dolphins or whales are identified from high quality images of dorsal fins or tail flukes. For this we require high quality, SLR cameras which are often exposed to extreme conditions experienced at sea. Should we benefit from NAD 30,000 - 50,000, we would purchase new photographic equipment to replace our current set up which is over 7 years old, so that our long term monitoring of dolphins and whales can continue through photo-identification techniques.
- NAD 10 000 – High-specification dedicated data computer - Our computing equipment is in great need of updating and in particular having a single, dedicated desktop PC which can be used for data input and storage. Should we benefit from a donation in the region of NAD 10,000 we would buy a high specification desk top computer to conduct our research work on in our office in Walvis Bay.
- NAD 5 000 – Educational materials - The Namibian Dolphin Project run a small environmental office in Walvis Bay, and distribute education materials through this office and during out-reach events. A donation of NAD 5,000 would be used to provide educational handouts to visitors and local learners who are interested in marine life.
Despite their importance to the ecosystem as top predators as well as to the tourism industry, cetaceans (dolphins and whales) have been poorly studied in Namibian waters. The Namibian Dolphin Project is a research and conservation organization run by several independent scientists in association with the University of Pretoria’s Mammal Research Institute and the Namibia Nature Foundation. Our mission is to research Namibia’s cetaceans to generate data on these populations that can be used for their conservation through sustainable management. Since 2008, the Namibian Dolphin Project has generated considerable new information on the abundance, ecological relationships and conservation status of whales and dolphins in Namibia’s waters. We work with the community and policy makers including Namibian NGOs, the Namibian Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR), The University of Namibia, and the marine tourism industry, to increase awareness and knowledge of Namibia’s marine life.
Information regarding Special Events of the 2015 Aktion Sonnenstern can be found here:
Individual presentations of the supported organisations in connection with the Namibia Scientific Society