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Monday, 5 January 2009

A New Year Begins

Happy New Year! I hope you all have had a great Christmas and enjoyed your New Year celebrations. For me it has been my first Christmas away from home and it couldn't have been more different to what I'm used to! On Christmas morning instead of enthusiastically opening presents with my sister under the Christmas tree and tucking into my mum's delicious Christmas dinner I found myself weighing puppies and driving around Africa checking cheetah enclosure fences. Being English, experiencing Christmas with the hot weather we are currently having also took a bit of getting used to!

Those of us still here at CCF enjoyed a rather different Christmas dinner round our Director's house and instead of turkey enjoyed home made cheese burgers expertly made for us by Bruce, our general manager. The highlight of an enjoyable evening came when CCF's newest residents Phoenix, Quasar and Soraya were allowed to join in the celebrations. The three young but rapidly growing cheetahs had a great time running around saying hello to all the new faces around them.

I celebrated the new year in the nearby town of Otjiwarongo with my fellow keeper Kate, dog man John and party animal groovy Gunther! Gunther is our agricultural and training course manager and a local Namibian who was very keen to see in 2009 with a drink in hand and plenty of cheesy Afrikaans party songs! We ended up at a pop concert where to my delight Onyoka, my favourite Namibian band, were playing. We had a great time but alas we couldn't stay out all night as we all had early starts and lots to do the following day.

The Christmas period saw an increase in the sightings of the two wild males that like to hang around the CCF centre, one of which has a CCF radio collar fitted. They were seen almost every night patrolling up and down the fence line of the enclosures housing some of our very beautiful female cheetahs! They succeeded in scaring me good and proper one night whilst I was walking along one of the fore mentioned enclosures towards our office when they jumped out of no where only 10 feet in front of me! Rather than seeing this attention as a nuisance the females actually seem to enjoy it and often engage in a spot of flirting.

I am pleased to say that all 17 puppies are still doing really well and have reached the stage when they can start to eat normal food, which I'm sure will be a big relief to their exhausted mothers Tylee and Uschi. After all, having 9 hungry mouths competing for your attention 24/7 can't be much fun!

The four wild cats I mentioned in my previous blog are on their way to the Namibrand Nature Reserve as I speak. The 9 hour drive will mark the end of what must have been a very traumatic time for the mother and her 3 cubs but happily they will soon be back in the wild where they belong and with Namibrand they have the advantage of living in a protected area. The cubs (2 males and one female) are at an age when they will soon leave their mother. The mother will be fitted with a radio collar and her progress monitored. I am sure she will do well especially as she has raised 3 cubs to independent age which shows she is made of the right stuff.

So 2008 ended on a happy note, lets hope it continues throughout 2009! Matt

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