Monday, April 7, 2014

Marlice Van Vuuren - Extraordinary People Changing the Game


Marlice van Vuuren has the looks of a model. Google-ing her would give you the impression that she was a celebrity before she became a conservationist, but further reading belies that notion. Marlice has been a woman of the wildlife ever since she was a kid; it’s her love for animals that catapulted her to celebrity status. Angelina Jolie discovered her wildlife sanctuary when she filmed “Beyond Borders” in 2002. She fell in love with the place, and even gave birth to her child, Shiloh, in Namibia.


The Naankuse Foundation was established by Marlice and her husband, Rudie van Vuuren, in 2006. They focus on:
• A Lifeline Clinic which provides free primary healthcare and an ambulance service to the San community in Epukiro, in rural east Namibia. On average around 3,500 patients are seen each year, 84% of whom are San with 45% being children (a quarter of whom are under 5 years old). This is a vital service for this remote marginalised community.
• The Clever Cubs Pre-primary school which provides education to 11 children and support to a further 16 children who are in mainstream schools in Windhoek. These children are all family members of our employees and largely from the San community.
• Employment on all our sites for the San community.
• A wildlife sanctuary that rescues and rehabilitates orphaned or injured animals. Where possible we re-release these animals. If release is not possible we provide a loving home for these ambassador animals who help us to teach people about conservation.
• A carnivore research project which provides consultancies to farmers and landowners and advises them on issues of carnivore conflict mitigation. (SOURCE: TFWA)


In 2008, Philip Selkirk discovered Marlice’s and Rudie’s work, and was taken by Marlice’s personal struggles in achieving her goals. The documentary “Marlice – A Vision for Africa” tells her captivating story, from tending to her animals at the sanctuary to living a harmonious life with the San Community.
But even with help from the Jolie-Pitt Foundation and other partners, the couple still wants to do so much more. They are hoping to protect more animals and are looking into expanding their sanctuary so that wild lions, tigers, hyenas and cheetahs can roam freely and co-exist. Indeed, Marlice is a true-blue African.


  1. She co-founded the “N/a’an ku sê (Naankuse) Lifeline Clinic” with her husband, Rudie, and two other partners.
  2. She and her husband started “N/a’an ku sê Foundation” with the help of donors.
  3. Angelina Jolie is an international patron of their sanctuary.
  4. She started “N/a’an ku sê's Carnivore Research Project” with her husband.
  5. She opened “Clever Cubs School” with her husband and the help of Clabile Trust.
  6. She was featured in an ad for Volkswagen with her pet cheetah, “Lucky.”
  7. Naankuse received the “International Health Promotion Award” (awarded first place in the prestigious Community Health Awards).
  8. She worked with Angelina Jolie on the film set of “Beyond Borders” by providing them with vultures from her sanctuary.
  9. She is one of the few white people who can speak the Bushman language fluently.
  10. A documentary of her life, “Marlice - A Vision for Africa,” was released in 2008.

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