Modisa Wildlife Project’s founders are Mikkel Legarth, from Denmark, and Valentin Gruener, from Germany. In 2009 they met as volunteers on a wildlife farm in Africa and ended up coordinating the other 60 volunteers at the project. Their love and passion for African wildlife – especially big cats – transformed the ways they envisioned their futures.
Mikkel and Valentin decided to fulfill their childhood dreams of working with wildlife in Africa. They achieved this dream by setting up Modisa Wildlife Project – a project with the ambition of creating awareness about the Kalahari ecosystem and its predators.
By collaborating with researchers and students in Botswana, Modisa Wildlife Project provides the unique opportunity to create positive, sustainable changes in the hope of creating a brighter future for Kalahari wildlife.
In March 2010 Mikkel and Valentin founded the project, bringing the initial concepts for Modisa to Botswana. Their efforts became a reality after friends in Maun saw a potential synergy between Modisa’s plans and a project started by Mr. Willie De Graaff, a respected farmer and conservationist and owner of the Grassland Bushman Lodge, a private game reserve in the Ghanzi district of Botswana.
For years Mr. De Graaff rescued predators from cattle farmers who regarded killing them as the only solution to preventing their livestock from being predated upon. Permits from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) allowed him to catch and temporarily care for the predators at his
own expense. The predators are housed in large bush-filled enclosures and, when possible, the animals are relocated to suitable wilderness areas in Botswana in collaboration with the DWNP.
In November 2011, Modisa Wildlife Project teamed up with Mr. De Graaff. The 10,000-hectare farm on which Modisa Wildlife Project is based borders the buffer zone west of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, the second largest game reserve in the world.
The area’s wide-open spaces and untamed wilderness provide ideal conditions for a wide range of animals, such as: various antelopes, zebras, wildebeests, giraffes, cheetahs, leopards and brown hyena and a spectacular bird and insect life.
WHAT WE DO:
The aim of the Modisa Wildlife Project is to engage in the conservation of the Kalahari ecosystem by promoting awareness at the local and global scale, assisting in the mitigation of human-carnivore conflict, and providing support to researchers.
In cooperation with Mr. Willie De Graaff and his staff, we assist in the care of 12 lions, 2 leopards and 28 African wild dogs. According the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), lions are considered a vulnerable species. Their population is estimated at 32,000 individuals present in 25% of savannah Africa (IUCN: http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/15951/0). Leopards are considered near threatened with populations estimated at 700,000 in Africa (IUCN: http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/15954/0). African wild dogs are one of the most endangered top predators in Africa, with only approximately 6.600 individuals left on the continent (IUCN: http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/12436/0).
We pride ourselves on giving the animals the best possible care and quality of life and we have played a key role in providing health care and creating living conditions that are as close to their natural habitat as possible. Our consultant veterinarian, Dr. Rob Jackson, has assisted us with advice and treatment — both routine and emergency.
We do not advocate the breeding of lions, as we see no scientific purpose. Therefore all lionesses here are given sub-cutaneous Deslorelin implants by Dr. Jackson to prevent reproduction. All the lions have microchips for identification and security purposes. Tissue samples have been taken and
submitted for DNA mapping as part of a Botswana-based lion genealogy research project. Blood samples are drawn for disease-status monitoring.