Marlice van Vuuren – Cheetah Rescuer


Marlice van Vuuren – Cheetah Rescuer


“I knew that my husband-to-be was the right one for me when I introduced him to the baboons on the farm.  Their reaction toward him was friendly and that’s when I knew that he was the one.”  Marlice van Vuuren


As I wrote in my posting Women Pioneers of Animal Rights, women have been the essential founders of the Animal Welfare and Animal Rights movements.  From Englishwoman Mary Tealby, who in 1860, first established the Temporary Home for Lost and Starving Dogs in an abandoned stable — and Canadian silent movie star and producer Nell Shipman, who created a sanctuary for over a hundred rescued animals in her beloved “God’s Country” — to more modern activists like Ingrid Newkirk, of PETA fame, and Pamela Anderson — the animal movement continues to grow.

In 2007, conservationist and actress Marlice van Vuuren, with her husband Rudie, opened the N/a’an ku sê’s Charity Lodge & Wildlife Sanctuary and in 2008, began their Big Cat rescue service, saving local cheetahs, leopards and lions…

Here, from Peter Horsfield, is a Guest Blog celebrating the life and contributions to the Animal Rights movement of actress Marlice van Vuuren…


Marlice & Rescued Cheetah

Marlice & Rescued Cheetah

Marlice van Vuuren has the looks of a model. Googling her would give you an impression that she was a celebrity first before she became a conservationist.

Further reading belies that notion.  Born in Namibia as Marlice Elrethra van der Merwe, she “grew up surrounded by animals on her parents’ farm.”  Marlice has been a “woman of the wildlife” ever since she was a girl. It’s her love of animals that catapulted her to celebrity status.

Angelina Jolie discovered Marlice’s wildlife sanctuary when filming Beyond Borders in 2002. Angelina fell in love with the place and even gave birth to her own 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 and Rudie’s work. He was taken by Marlice’s personal struggles to achieve what she has now been enjoying as an accomplished individual. The documentary titled Marlice – A Vision For Africa, sensitively tells her captivating story, from tending to her animals at the sanctuary to living a harmonious life with the San Community.

But even with the help from the Jolie-Pitt Foundation and other partners, the couple is still wanting to do so much more. Their school for the San community and the newly acquired vineyard provided the people additional income.

They’re hoping to protect more animals and they are looking into widening their sanctuary so that the wild lions, tigers, hyenas, and cheetahs can freely roam and coexist with them. Indeed, Marlice is a true-blue African.

1. She co-founded the Naankuse Lifeline Clinic with husband Rudie and two other partners.
2. She and her husband started the Naankuse Foundation with the help of donors.
3. Angelina Jolie is an international patron of their sanctuary.
4. She started Naankuse Carnivore Research Project with husband Rudie.
5. She opened Clever Cubs School with husband Rudie through the help of Clabile Trust.
6. She was featured in an ad for Volkswagen with her pet, Lucky.
7. Naankuse received the International Health Promotion Awards (awarded first place in the prestigious Community Health Awards).
8. She worked with Angelina Jolie on the film set Beyond Borders by providing them with vultures from her sanctuary.
9. She is only 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.

Thanks, Peter.  To read more about extraordinary people, visit Peter’s

And, yes, women continue to be the heart and loving soul of the movement.  Jane Goodall. Doris Day.  Brigitte Bardot.  Laureen Harper.  And so many more…

==>> To Read More About Women Animal Welfare Heroines Past & Present, See Women Pioneers of Animal Rights

Brian Alan Burhoe


Marlice van Vuuren – Cheetah Rescuer

Keywords: Cheetah rescuer, Pamela Anderson, Laureen Harper, Marlice van Vuuren cheetah, Marlice van Vuuren quote, Nell Shipman, Rescued Animals


About Brian Alan Burhoe

A Graduate of the Holland College Culinary Course, Brian Alan Burhoe has cooked in Atlantic Coast restaurants and institutional kitchens for over 30 years. He is a member of the Canadian Culinary Federation. Brian's articles reflect his interests in food service, Canadian history, imaginative literature, wildlife writing, animal rights, wilderness preservation and our best friends -- our dogs. See his CIVILIZED BEARS!
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