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Naankuse Foundation - Founder Marlice van Vuuren with baby rhino Hope

Our Founders

Meet Marlice van Vuuren (nee van der Merwe), the woman who was born to love the Namibian bush, its wildlife and the people whose roots lie in the ancient foundations of Africa. 


Growing up on Namibia’s first wildlife sanctuary to be established in this ‘Land God made in Anger’, Marlice spent her childhood surrounded by orphaned, injured and conflict wildlife – all provided with a second chance at the Harnas Wildlife Sanctuary. Here her innate skills in caring for wildlife blossomed, as well as her affinity for a vulnerable culture – that of the San. Indeed, Harnas has been supporting this marginalised and ostracised community for time immemorial, Marlice having spent her childhood immersed in the world’s most ancient culture. She not only speaks the beautiful language of the San fluently, but understands the hardships bestowed on the so-called ‘meek’ of society.  


Marlice’s mission and life’s path was reinforced when she met her perfect match, Dr. Rudie van Vuuren. A medical doctor, Rudie van Vuuren’s heart also beats with a passion for conservation, both humanitarian and wildlife causes dictating his actions.   


Together, with the support of conservation partners, Jan and Tineke Verburg, as well as long-time friend, Dr. Jannes Brandt, they established the Naankuse Lifeline Clinic in 2003. This healthcare facility provides free medical treatment and support to some 4,500 San patients annually, and its roots lie in the tragic death of a San baby failed by society.  


The need to preserve Namibia’s magnificent wildlife and landscapes further suffused their endeavours, the Naankuse Foundation Wildlife Sanctuary springing to life in 2007.  


From there the story grew, some 100,000 hectares of Namibia’s extraordinary landscapes now forming protected reserves.  


Dr. Rudie and Marlice van Vuuren, a dynamic duo whose dream created the Naankuse mission, a mission of conserving Namibia’s wildlife, landscapes and cultures – a mission steeped in the reality of a Foundation that now benefits thousands of human and animal lives.  


The Naankuse Foundation’s vision is also showcased each day, that of an Africa where humans and wildlife live and thrive together.   


The meaning of ‘Naankuse’ has touched so many – the heavens, indeed, look after us.     

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