A lightning strike set fire to Namibia's world-renowned cheetah conservation centre, injuring an intern and burning down buildings, an official said Thursday.

Amid a severe drought, lightning struck late Wednesday, causing a fire that raged until midnight at the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), assistant director Patricia Tricorache told AFP.

"One tourism intern has sustained mild injuries," CCF said in a statement earlier.

"No animals were injured," it added, as 23 cheetahs at the reserve managed to escape the fire.

Workers battling to contain the blaze at the centre in Otjiwarongo, 250 kilometres (155 miles) north of the capital Windhoek were hampered by low water levels during the worst drought in decades in the southern African country.

"The visitor centre, including a storage room filled with educational and tourism materials, was burned to the ground, leaving only the walls standing," the centre said.

The conservation centre re-opened Thursday and would continue its work despite the setback.

Around 3,000 cheetahs remain in the wild in Namibia -- the largest population in the world. Some 10,000 are still in the wild in Africa.

Founded in 1990, CCF is a global leader in the wild cats' conservation.

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