About RESTREST is a non- profit organization founded in September of 2000
The Founder and Director, Maria Diekmann began REST in the year 2000. As their family farm was very near the cliffs of the last breeding Cape Griffons, Maria at first envisioned her role is saving them as a supportive one – helping to raise funds or organize data.
Then one day Art and Pris stayed in her small guesthouse on the farm and discussions led to the plight of the remaining vultures on the Waterberg Plateau cliffs. At the time Maria had no idea that Art had actually been very involved in saving another of the worlds endangered vultures – the California condor in the United States. He encouraged her to play a leading role in Namibia’s conservation and work hard to bring together experts around the world for support. This she did and REST soon became recognized world wide for its vulture captures, taking of samples, fitting of satellite trackers, analysis of data and successful releases,
When a birthing pangolin came along a few years later, REST was established enough that Maria could devote 3 ½ months to living with the Mom and pup and monitoring and recording the birth and raising of the pup. This had never been done before in recorded history and while extremely difficult, was the experience of a lifetime. Roxy the mother pangolin trusted Maria to such an extent that within a week of the birth she brought the baby pup to Maria and he climbed on to her. Thus began a love affair with pangolins.
REST chose the “Forgotten 5” species in an effort to focus on animals that do not often get the attention needed by general media unless extra effort is made. They represent biodiversity, which REST feels is key to good conservation.
REST has a Board of Directors and is in the process of formalizing our legal status in both Namibia and the United States as a registered Non profit. Due to the continuing strong support that REST receives from the U.K., we hope to register there in the future.
REST offers 2 tours of the centre daily. One at 11:00 am and one at 3:30 pm. Activities vary as one of REST’s key beliefs is that if an animal comes in that can and should be released into the wild, every effort will be made to do so. Therefore a visitor during one month may meet a baby kudu with a broken leg or help give milk to a baby warthog, but 6 months later, that animal will no longer be at the centre. We do have certain non-releasable animals that are recognized over the years such as Nesher the Cape Griffon, Ollie the Bateleur, or Seymore the Spotted Eagle Owl, but since our animal welfare comes first, we never guarantee a visit with a specific animal or species.
This is especially relevant with our pangolin work. At present it is believed that we are the only centre in the world open to the public where baby Cape pangolins have been raised successfully and monitored until prepared for full release. We believe strongly that for individual best practice and science, all of our pangolins are walked 3-5 hours a day regardless of weather or holidays and they forage naturally for their own food. This is how they would live in the wild. They wake on their own schedules, forage wherever they want to go that day, are exposed to other species and their own and investigate burrows and often take naps in the wild. Essentially they live like a wild pangolin. The only difference being that they are secure and safe while sleeping during the day. It is of vital importance to us that visitors realize we are not a zoo. Expectations should be to learn about the species we focus on and if lucky get a glimpse into their lives and see them first hand.
With this in mind and because we recognize the sincere desire for many to learn first hand about pangolins, we have been loaned a special camera that allows us to film our daily forages and visitors will be able to take “virtual tours” with the pangolins and later all of the species we work with.
If the visitor wants assured contact with any animals as a guarantee, then REST is probably not the ideal visit for that individual.
If the visitor is fortunate enough to be able to see and walk with one of our pangolins for 15 minutes or so, there will be strict conditions to the encounter including but not necessary limited to the following:
- Washing of hands with soap provided
- Shoe baths in shallow water
- No camera flashes
- No direct contact with the animal unless initiated by the animal or senior staff
- No walking in front of the pangolin or surrounding an animal
Fees are N$550.00 per person and include a small meal that can be eaten at the centre after the tour and before heading back home or further on to sites such as Etosha National Park just an hour away. Meals are catered from The Farm House; a popular café located in the local town of Outjo just 4 km away and are included in the price.
Food options currently include (depending on availability):
- Toasted sandwiches with two of the following (ham, cheese or tomato)
- Small pizzas with three of the following (cheese, feta, spinach, mushrooms, salami or ham)
- Greek salad
- Meat pies
- Large piece of a variety of sweet pies of various types
Larger meals can be ordered with an additional payment. Orders are taken on arrival and are delivered by the end of the tour.