On Monday October 29th, the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) and 10 other Namibian non-profit organizations joined TOSCO (Tourism Supporting Conservation Trust) at the Franco Namibia Culture Centre (FNCC) in Windhoek for the Wildlife Conservation in Namibia Art-Expo’s opening night. Eleven organizations, including CCF, gathered local and international artists and photographers to bring together a collection of wildlife-related art pieces.
The night was opened with a few words from organizers and partners of the event, including Daniel Zambrano (with TOSCO), Jerome Kohl (Director of FNCC), John Kasaona (from the Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation), and Donovan Wagner (from the ELOOLO Trust). Within the crowd stood representatives from all 11 organizations, along with some of the artists that provided the various and diverse pieces of work (including myself on behalf of CCF), and people from the public there to invest in some conservation artwork.
The purpose of this expo involved creating awareness for vanishing wildlife, facing the danger of being lost forever, as well as informing people of the role they play in the conservation of wildlife, and how they can be active in this role. The expo also shared the efforts that individuals and organizations have already been undertaking to minimize conflicts between wildlife and local communities. Local communities were also recognized for the lengths they go through to live with wildlife, to conserve them in their natural habitats, and to keep these habitats in shape for tourists to visit iconic locations in Namibia and experience Africa at it’s raw and beautiful best.
Funds generated by selling the art pieces went mainly to the organizations exhibiting the pieces, as well as the FNCC and the artists, helping TOSCO in supporting the conservation projects of Namibia.
The Cheetah Conservation Fund brought three art pieces, two of which were done by CCF staff members, myself and our head cheetah keeper, Laura Allen. Laura painted the face of one of our resident cheetahs at CCF Centre called Nico. Nico and his brother, Koya, were taken from the wild by a farmer after their mother had been supposedly shot and killed. The farmer wanted them as pets however kept them in a small chicken coop, feeding them a very poor diet. These circumstances lead to the two cubs developing a metabolic bone disease, causing their front legs to have hairline fractures when we got them due to the lack of nutrition. After care at CCF, they both are healthy now. Nico serves as an excellent example to the public, making people understand what can come from human wildlife conflict, and that it has to be dealt with appropriately.
Myself, CCF’s Administrative Assistant, submitted a piece of art focusing on the work that CCF has been doing with African Wild Dogs or also known as Painted Dogs. My painting was of White Collar, one of the first orphaned Painted Dogs that came to CCF last year. White Collar, along with his brother, Zebra Legs, came to CCF at a very young age after their den had been destroyed. It’s estimated that there are less than 450 African Wild Dogs in Namibia, and the species is the second most threatened carnivore in Africa. CCF’s ecology and community development teams have been working in the four communal conservancies around the Greater Waterberg Landscape where these Painted Dogs come from and in the region which is home to the most persecuted African wild dog population in Namibia, and the highest record of den disturbances by communities. It will take much time and effort from CCF and stakeholders to build trust in these communities and find ways to mitigate the conflict and stop communities from destroying these beautiful critically endangered animals.
The third piece was submitted by Elgin, a Namibian born artist with German roots. She studied art in South Africa and has a BSc of Arts in Psychology. Elgin is a self-employed art teacher and gives art classes to children and adults in the town of Tsumeb. Elgin visited the Cheetah Conservation Fund and was awed with the work that CCF does. Leaving, Elgin felt inspired and knew she wanted to somehow contribute to CCF’s conservation. Her painting was of the beautiful cheetah Solo.
In addition to the art exhibition, TOSCO and ELOOLO representatives brought an acacia tree to the FNCC to be planted. These two organizations are working together on a project based on food security in Namibia. For this project, they will be travelling through Namibia to plant numerous trees, as well as food plants that can be harvested to eat. Jerome Kohl (Director of FNCC) and John Kasaona (from the Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation) helped to plant this tree, and I helped too!
Partners and artists involved in the Art Expo.
The following partners of TOSCO are involved in establishing the art expo through providing art pieces and information:
- Desert Lion Conservation
- Desert Elephant Conservation
- Brown Hyena
- Cheetah Conservation Fund
- Kwando Carnivore Project
- Save The Rhino Trust
- Team Namibia
- Pack Safari
The following other artists made their art pieces available for the fundraiser event:
- Sonia Bergh
- Annabelle Venter
- M’kariko Amagulu
- Ndako Nghipandulwa