ORKCA logo

About Us

ORKCA innovates on traditional conservation approaches towards a community-driven, tech-empowered, and financially self-sufficient model.

Vision

A connected landscape and people and a re-wilded Orange River-Karoo ecosystem as a vast, intact, viable conservation area with healthy, free-roaming wildlife populations and a resilient society that promotes local culture and wildlife coexistence, and an operating model of diversified, inclusive land use. ORKCA is an engine for nature-based solutions and economic growth in partnership with local communities in southern Namibia.

Mission

To be the largest private community-focused reserve in sub-Saharan Africa by restoring the Orange River-Karoo landscape to its full vibrancy for the benefit of local communities and wildlife.

Leadership Team

Andreia Pawel

Andreia Pawel, CEO

Andreia is a former British Fencing Champion turned conservation entrepreneur. Her global background stems from field experience in Sierra Leone and Kenya, as well as environmental education work in Tanzania where she directed and produced an award-winning environmental education film shown at the Sondrio Wildlife Film Festival.

Most recently, Andreia co-founded Oana Namibia, one of Namibia’s leading adventure tourism organisations and is currently the CEO of Oana Namibia.

Andreia also co-founded Oana Community Foundation, a non-profit organisation in Southern Namibia Andreia, alongside her business partner Ed, has gained experience in landscape restoration through the process of rewilding Kum Kum Reserve, one of the founding members to join ORKCA.

Ed Barthorp

Ed Barthorp, Head of Field Operations

Ed grew up in the Cotswolds of the UK, where he enjoyed the countryside upbringing yet always had one eye on the wilds of Africa. Ed found his feet in Kenya ten years ago with involvement in projects with Northern Rangelands Trust, Ol Pejeta Conservancy and Loisaba Conservancy.

Ed then moved to work for the Tanzania People and Wildlife Fund before completing an MSc in Conservation and Business at the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology.

Ed has been in southern Namibia for the past six years co-founding the adventure-conservation expedition company, Oana Namibia, whilst concurrently co-founding the non-profit Oana Community Foundation. Ed’s passion lies in landscape conservation, big ideas, creative and original tourism and rewilding. He is an avid explorer, surfer, mountaineer and horticulturist.

Alton Tsowaweb

Alton Tsowaseb, Community Program Officer
A day in the life

Growing up in a conservancy in the Erongo region of northern central Namibia, Alton has always been passionate about conservation and the part people and their communities can play in preserving nature. He holds a National Diploma in Natural Resources Management from the Polytechnic of Namibia and a Bachelor of Natural Resource Management (Honours), from the Namibian University of Science and Technology, which, coupled with stints in the mining sector, environmental education, water resources management and community conservation, has given him a wealth of diverse experience in various aspects of conservation.

Key work positions include a Conservancy Leadership internship program with NACSO, (The Namibian Association of Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) Support Organisations), the Ministry of Agriculture Water and Land Reform in the Geohydrology Division as a Hydrological Technician and Namibia’s Integrated Natural Resources Management as a Cluster Coordinator, supporting five communal conservancies with various aspects of Natural Resources management and development. As ORKCA’s Community Program Officer he is thrilled to get back to sitting around a campfire with community leaders and discussing the realities they face, and together looking at potential solutions. His hope is that local communities realise the potential they possess to uplift livelihoods through conservation-led enterprises. In between Alton loves cooking and playing chess, and spends time birdwatching as often as he can.

Andreia Pawel

Andreia Pawel, CEO

Andreia is a former British Fencing Champion turned conservation entrepreneur. Her global background stems from field experience in Sierra Leone and Kenya, as well as environmental education work in Tanzania where she directed and produced an award-winning environmental education film shown at the Sondrio Wildlife Film Festival.

Most recently, Andreia co-founded Oana Namibia, one of Namibia’s leading adventure tourism organisations and is currently the CEO of Oana Namibia.

Most recently, Andreia co-founded Oana Namibia, one of Namibia’s leading adventure tourism organisations and is currently the CEO of Oana Namibia. Andreia also co-founded Oana Community Foundation, a non-profit organisation in Southern Namibia Andreia, alongside her business partner Ed, has gained experience in landscape restoration through the process of rewilding Kum Kum Reserve, one of the founding members to join ORKCA.

Ed Barthorp

Ed Barthorp, Head of Field Operations

Ed grew up in the Cotswolds of the UK, where he enjoyed the countryside upbringing yet always had one eye on the wilds of Africa. Ed found his feet in Kenya ten years ago with involvement in projects with Northern Rangelands Trust, Ol Pejeta Conservancy and Loisaba Conservancy.

Ed then moved to work for the Tanzania People and Wildlife Fund before completing an MSc in Conservation and Business at the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology. Ed has been in southern Namibia for the past six years co-founding the adventure-conservation expedition company, Oana Namibia, whilst concurrently co-founding the non-profit Oana Community Foundation. Ed’s passion lies in landscape conservation, big ideas, creative and original tourism and rewilding. He is an avid explorer, surfer, mountaineer and horticulturist.

Alton Tsowaweb

Alton Tsowaseb, Community Program Officer
A day in the life

Growing up in a conservancy in the Erongo region of northern central Namibia, Alton has always been passionate about conservation and the part people and their communities can play in preserving nature. He holds a National Diploma in Natural Resources Management from the Polytechnic of Namibia and a Bachelor of Natural Resource Management (Honours), from the Namibian University of Science and Technology, which, coupled with stints in the mining sector, environmental education, water resources management and community conservation, has given him a wealth of diverse experience in various aspects of conservation.

Key work positions include a Conservancy Leadership internship program with NACSO, (The Namibian Association of Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) Support Organisations), the Ministry of Agriculture Water and Land Reform in the Geohydrology Division as a Hydrological Technician and Namibia’s Integrated Natural Resources Management as a Cluster Coordinator, supporting five communal conservancies with various aspects of Natural Resources management and development. As ORKCA’s Community Program Officer he is thrilled to get back to sitting around a campfire with community leaders and discussing the realities they face, and together looking at potential solutions. His hope is that local communities realise the potential they possess to uplift livelihoods through conservation-led enterprises. In between Alton loves cooking and playing chess, and spends time birdwatching as often as he can.

Jannie

Jannie Van de Merwe, Reserve Manager
A day in the life

Jannie is Namibian born and raised, and his love of the land comes from growing up on a farm in southern Namibia among a community passionate about their country and life in the bush. With an honours degree in hydrology and geohydrology from the Northwest-University Potchefstroom (NWU) South Africa and also a B.Sc. in Geology and Geography, he worked as an environmental scientist with Geo Pollution Technologies Namibia, specialising in geohydrology, geology and hydrology.

In a region regularly facing drought and the impacts of climate change, his experience in groundwater and soil monitoring and sampling, geophysics (borehole siting), hydrocensus studies and groundwater specialist studies is invaluable and will help ORKCA’s rewilding and conservation work in the future. Jannie is not only our Assistant Reserve Manager, he personally works his own farm nearby and daily faces the same challenges as our reserve neighbours, bringing a unique insider perspective and making him the perfect reserve liaison. When not on the reserve Jannie will still always be found outdoors, hunting, fishing and perfecting his newfound interest in locating and identifying wildlife tracks.

Jannie

Jannie Van de Merwe, Reserve Manager
A day in the life

Jannie is Namibian born and raised, and his love of the land comes from growing up on a farm in southern Namibia among a community passionate about their country and life in the bush. With an honours degree in hydrology and geohydrology from the Northwest-University Potchefstroom (NWU) South Africa and also a B.Sc. in Geology and Geography, he worked as an environmental scientist with Geo Pollution Technologies Namibia, specialising in geohydrology, geology and hydrology.

In a region regularly facing drought and the impacts of climate change, his experience in groundwater and soil monitoring and sampling, geophysics (borehole siting), hydrocensus studies and groundwater specialist studies is invaluable and will help ORKCA’s rewilding and conservation work in the future. Jannie is not only our Assistant Reserve Manager, he personally works his own farm nearby and daily faces the same challenges as our reserve neighbours, bringing a unique insider perspective and making him the perfect reserve liaison. When not on the reserve Jannie will still always be found outdoors, hunting, fishing and perfecting his newfound interest in locating and identifying wildlife tracks.

Emma Louise Grover

Emma Louise Grover, Brand Manager

Emma Louise - an advocate for community engagement and storytelling, born in Cape Town, South Africa. Emma’s global travels laid the groundwork for her curiosity in the way people engage with their landscape. Inspired by this curiosity, Emma pursued studies in Anthropology and Psychology at The University of Cape Town and Rhodes University, acquiring an understanding of the threads that bind societies together.

Beyond her passion for community agency building, Emma’s professional experience includes roles where she has led teams in dynamic environments. Her previous position as Head of Content Development at Rewire Trauma Therapy gave her experience in key areas such as heading the copywriting, content development, and communications teams. Having been part of her previous company from its inception, Emma brings organizational, writing, and communication skills to the table. 

Emma brings hands-on experience in community agency building and sustainability, having actively contributed to organizations- the most recent being the Bulungula Incubator in Bulungula, South Africa, where she worked alongside the community in creating sustainable and empowering initiatives. Emma’s commitment to fostering meaningful change is not just a vocation but a calling.

Faizel Uaendere

Faizel Uaendere, Interim Head of Finance

Faizel is an entrepreneur within the financial and tax advisory space with a keen interest in nature and the environment. This stems from his upbringing in a small village close to the town of Okakarara which is approximately 294km northeast of Windhoek.

“From humble beginnings as a village boy to completing my tertiary education in Cape Town South Africa in the early 2000’s, I set up my company, Don Consulting Services, in 2011.” Faizel provides various services to Non-Profit Organisations to ensure they remain compliant with the laws & regulations of the country and respective donor and grant agreements.

Emma Louise Grover

Emma Louise Grover, Brand Manager

Emma Louise - an advocate for community engagement and storytelling, born in Cape Town, South Africa. Emma’s global travels laid the groundwork for her curiosity in the way people engage with their landscape. Inspired by this curiosity, Emma pursued studies in Anthropology and Psychology at The University of Cape Town and Rhodes University, acquiring an understanding of the threads that bind societies together.

Beyond her passion for community agency building, Emma’s professional experience includes roles where she has led teams in dynamic environments. Her previous position as Head of Content Development at Rewire Trauma Therapy gave her experience in key areas such as heading the copywriting, content development, and communications teams. Having been part of her previous company from its inception, Emma brings organizational, writing, and communication skills to the table. 

Emma brings hands-on experience in community agency building and sustainability, having actively contributed to organizations- the most recent being the Bulungula Incubator in Bulungula, South Africa, where she worked alongside the community in creating sustainable and empowering initiatives. Emma’s commitment to fostering meaningful change is not just a vocation but a calling.

Faizel Uaendere

Faizel Uaendere, Interim Head of Finance

Faizel is an entrepreneur within the financial and tax advisory space with a keen interest in nature and the environment. This stems from his upbringing in a small village close to the town of Okakarara which is approximately 294km northeast of Windhoek.

“From humble beginnings as a village boy to completing my tertiary education in Cape Town South Africa in the early 2000’s, I set up my company, Don Consulting Services, in 2011.” Faizel provides various services to Non-Profit Organisations to ensure they remain compliant with the laws & regulations of the country and respective donor and grant agreements.

Cienna 1

Cienna, Game Guard & Permaculture Specialist

Cienna is from Gabis, a small village in the Karas region. Cienna is fascinated with plants and has run the indigenous tree nursery on ORKCA for the last two years. Cienna manages all the waterpoints on the reserve, grades the tracks and boreholes. Cienna is incredibly handy at fixing things, he maintains all the vehicles. Cienna’s particular interest in medicinal plants, spending time with him in the bush is like downloading a botanical encyclopedia, he knows all the properties of all the plants.

Angelina

Angelina, Housekeeper & Hostess ORKCA HeadQuarters

Angelina has been with us for the last five years. Angelina, engages with visitors and teaches them how to make traditional jewelry out of beads. Angelinda also leads traditional cooking workshops, baking bread underground. Angelina led a community project using solar ovens to bake and to cook soup to feed the local soup kitchen.

Cienna 1

Cienna, Game Guard & Permaculture Specialist

Cienna is from Gabis, a small village in the Karas region. Cienna is fascinated with plants and has run the indigenous tree nursery on ORKCA for the last two years. Cienna manages all the waterpoints on the reserve, grades the tracks and boreholes. Cienna is incredibly handy at fixing things, he maintains all the vehicles. Cienna’s particular interest in medicinal plants, spending time with him in the bush is like downloading a botanical encyclopedia, he knows all the properties of all the plants.

Angelina

Angelina, Housekeeper & Hostess ORKCA HeadQuarters

Angelina has been with us for the last five years. Angelina, engages with visitors and teaches them how to make traditional jewelry out of beads. Angelinda also leads traditional cooking workshops, baking bread underground. Angelina led a community project using solar ovens to bake and to cook soup to feed the local soup kitchen.

Board Members

Jonathan Baillie

Prof Jonathan Baillie

Founder & President of Natural State, former Executive Vice-President and Chief Scientist of the National Geographic Society and Conservation Director of the Zoological Society of London.

Nabot Mbeeli

Nabot Mbeeli

CBNRM (Community-Based Natural Resource Management) Coordinator of Projects at Namibia Nature Foundation

Sean Gerrity

Sean Gerrity

Founder of American Prairie Reserve (APR)

Maxi Louis

Maxi Louis

Director of the Namibian Association of CBNRM (Community-Based Natural Resource Management) Support Organisations (NACSO).

Shirley Bethune Board Member

Shirley Bethune

Senior Lecturer at Namibian University of Science and Technology (NUST), Natural Resource Department

Josephat Mwatotele

Josephat Mwatotele

Business Executive, Social Entrepreneur

Ronny Dempers

Ronny Dempers

Executive Director Namibia Development Trust (NDT)

Silke Van De Merwe

Silke Van De Merwe

Owner of Mosaic Consulting, a Namibian sustainability strategy consultancy

Dr. Greg Stuart-Hill

Dr. Greg Stuart-Hill

Former Conservation Director for WWF-Namibia.

International Advisory Council

At ORKCA, our mission is fuelled by the commitment and action of our incredible Patrons. These passionate individuals from around the globe embody the spirit of change, actively steering the ORKCA ship towards our shared mission. They are the Doers, the driving force propelling our vision into reality. We are profoundly grateful for this constellation of inspiring individuals whose guidance and support light our path on this ever-challenging journey. Join us in acknowledging and celebrating our invaluable Patrons, the true heartbeat of ORKCA.

565933822 headshot linkedin dl

Lisa Yao
Product Strategy Lead, Google

Lisa is drawn to ORKCA’s visionary approach to conservation and rewilding that not only honors nature, but also the long term interaction of communities with the environment. She believes that conservation projects of ORKCA’s ambition and caliber are once-in-a-century and is excited to support ORKCA in bringing its vision to fruition, especially by connecting communities around the world to ORKCA’s cause.

Lisa works on product strategy for Google’s search advertising business based out of San Francisco and previously worked on strategy and consulting for the U.S. National Park Service, World Bank, and a small & medium enterprise investment firm in South Africa. She holds an MBA, Masters in Public Administration in International Development, and Bachelors degree from Harvard University. Lisa is an avid backpacker and bike-packer and love to explore and savor wildernesses around the globe.

565928690 5be7f1ab eb3c 4443 9b8d new

Ben Goldsmith
CEO Menhaden Capital, Financier and Environmentalist

“I am unbelievably excited to be playing a part in ORKCA’s mission to piece back together and restore vibrancy to one of the African continent’s most magical landscapes.”

Ben Goldsmith, an esteemed member of our International Advisory Council, boasts a wealth of expertise in environmental stewardship and sustainable investments. Serving as the Chief Executive of Menhaden Resource Efficiency Plc, a London-listed investment trust dedicated to green-focused initiatives, Ben has been at the forefront of driving change. His previous co-founding role at WHEB Asset Management, emphasizing sustainability, underscores his deep-rooted commitment to environmental causes.

A prominent figure in environmental policy, Ben Goldsmith chairs the UK Conservative Environment Network, wielding influence and fostering collaboration within the realm of conservation. His contributions extend to governance, having served as a Non-Executive Director for the UK Government’s Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from 2018 to 2022.

Beyond his executive roles, Ben’s passion for conservation is evident in his founding and chairing of the Conservation Collective, an expanding network dedicated to locally-focused environmental foundations. Complementing this dedication, he serves as a Trustee for the UK Climate Foundation and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation.

Ben Goldsmith’s multifaceted expertise, leadership, and tireless commitment to environmental sustainability make him an invaluable asset to our council, enriching our mission to drive positive change and preserve our planet for future generations.