Animal Categories - Harnas Wildlife Foundation

Animal Classification

Categorising animals on Harnas is an important exercise as it helps us plan for the animal’s survival. Some species such as the African leopard tortoise can reach an age of 80 – 100 years!

Domestication and tame

Domestication (from Latin domesticus) is the process whereby a population of animals, through a process of selection, is changed at the genetic level, accentuating traits that benefit humans. It differs from taming in that a change in the phonotypical expression and genotype of the animal occurs, whereas taming is simply the process by which animals become accustomed to human presence. Therefore, a defining characteristic of domestication is artificial selection by humans.

In many cases Harnas Wildlife Foundation rescues or is given young and baby animals. The only way to care for them, as they have no parents, is to interact with them. This has the kick back that they become tame. Some animals handle this better than others. Cheetahs become extremely docile and tame, as do bat eared foxes, but leopards and black backed jackal hardly ever become “tame”. Harnas has however proven that tame animals, for example the cheetah called Pride, do not always lose their hunting spirit, instinct or ability, as is expected by most institutions.

As to domestic animals, Harnas Wildlife Foundation has a strong farming background and the need and advantage of keeping certain domestic animals is a reality. Kept for their meat, milk and their market value, Harnas is home to many animals such as goats, cattle, turkeys, peacock, sheep, pigs and horses. In the same breath, it should be said that Harnas Wildlife Foundation does not prefer to save any particular class of animal. Dogs, horses, cats and even sheep have been rescued and doctored back to health at Harnas Wildlife Foundation.

-Wildlife

Wildlife can be found in all ecosystems. Deserts, forests, rain forests, plains, grasslands and other areas including the most developed urban sites, all have distinct forms of wildlife. While the term in popular culture usually refers to animals that are untouched by human factors, most scientists agree that wildlife around the world is impacted by human activities.

Humans have historically tended to separate civilization from wildlife in a number of ways including the legal, social, and moral sense. This has been a reason for debate throughout recorded history. In modern times concern for the natural environment has provoked activists to protest the exploitation of wildlife for human benefit or entertainment.

All wildlife on Harnas Wildlife Foundation properties are protected and given the chance to age and live out their lives in a natural manner. The flip side of the coin however is that careful population planning has to be maintained. Herbivores may deplete the vegetation if numbers are kept unchecked and if there are too many carnivores in an area, they will also have a negative effect on the balance of herbivore species. Harnas Wildlife Foundation therefore keeps regular game counts and stocking and destocking of camps such as the Lifeline, where large carnivores are released.

Endangered Species

-An endangered species is a population of organisms, which is at risk of becoming extinct because it is either few in numbers, or threatened by changing environmental or predation parameters. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has calculated the percentage of endangered species..

According to the Smithsonian animal reference guide “Animal” and the IUCN list, the following Harnas animals are listed as:

African Wild Dog –Lycaon pictus- endangered

Brown hyena –Parahaena brunnea– near threatened

Cape Griffon vulture –Gyps coprotheres– vulnerable (IUCN list)

Cheetah –Acinonyx jubatus- vulnerable

Leopard –Panthera pardus– near threatened

Lion –Panthera leo- vulnerable

Mountain Zebra –Equus zebra– vulnerable (IUCN list)

Animals in captivity

Animals that live under human care are in captivity. Captivity can be used as a generalizing term to describe the keeping of either domesticated animals (livestock and pets) or wild animals. This may include for example farms, private homes and sanctuaries. Keeping animals in human captivity and under human care can be distinguished between three primary categories according to particular motives, objectives and conditions. For better control and limitation to an animal’s movement, captivity also refers to any animal being kept within a defined area by artificial means such as fences.

All Harnas Wildlife Foundation captive animals are kept in enclosures with natural habitat, so to give them an environment as close as possible to their own. Different animals need different types of enclosures as their habits vary greatly, as do their “danger factor”. Animals in captivity on Harnas are kept because they were seen as problem animals at some point or because of certain injuries and/or handicaps and therefore cannot be released back into the wild.

Captive Animal Categories

-Problem Animals

With the encroachment of urban areas, people are coming into contact with wild animals on a far more frequent basis. This inevitably produces a serious problem for both humans and animals. Livestock farming always involves risks. One of these is contact with large carnivores but also with smaller animals. These animals cause significant damage to the farmer and their livelihood. The farmer perceives this as a threat that should be dealt with decisively. Farmers resort by necessity to any means possible to rid themselves of these problem animals. The Namibian nature conservation is overburdened to help in every instance and this is where Harnas steps in to fill the void. Harnas provides advice, collects caught animals and stimulates positive solutions to the continuous problems between farmers and the wild animals of Namibia whenever possible.

-Injured Animals

Some unfortunate animals are caught in pouching traps and other devices, hit by cars or hurt due to other human factors and are usually hurt beyond their normal recovery state. Harnas is therefore unable to relocate these animals. Harnas receives a constant influx of injured, malnourished, sick and abused animals. The medical care, assistance and love given to these animals on Harnas provide them with a chance to live when they would otherwise have died.

-Unwanted Pets

The worst and most commonly found problems arise from people that try to tame wild animals to be house pets. This human want causes secondary problems such as the deliberate killing of female animals to take their offspring. Animals are very adorable and playful when they are infants. They have not yet gained physical strength but they mature at a rapid pace to become jealous, aggressive and protective by their instinctive nature. Their owners not being able to handle and understand these grown animals tend to use different means of treatment when dealing with them. This “treatment” usually involves the use of alcohol, drugs, and abuse towards these animals, which leads to their death. These animals have lost their group structure, their intensive survival abilities and are thus dependent on man to survive. Harnas acts as a haven for these unwanted pets and where possible rehabilitates the animals over time into new group structures and natural environments.

-Animals born on Harnas

Even though preventative measures, such as hormone implants and separation are implemented, pregnancies still occur from time to time and as a result animals have been born on Harnas. Our goal is to release these animals into the Lifeline project.

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