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Friday, 31 July 2009

NamibRand female - as of 31/July

The female is sticking to the same area as last week, returning most nights to the same (approx. 300x250 m) area.  

 

Rob

 

NamibRand Male Cheetahs and Shati Update as of 31/July

Behaviour patterns of the boys don't seem to be changing significantly as yet.  They continue to lurk close to the now empty pens where Rosy and Misty were, and to the farmhouse that is park HQ - regularly marking the outside of said farmhouse.  Some really good news though, is that on the 24th, they were seen in company of the very much alive Shanti!  Her collar has definitely stopped working, but she seems to be very healthy and is clearly looking after herself.

 

After some report from Sossousvlei Desert Lodge that they have seen six cheetahs instead of five at Toskaan, Florian saw Shanti today morning when he was driving from Aandstêr on the road to Keerweder (some few metres north of the pen). First he thought it was one of the boys but after searching and seeing the five boys on the other side of the road, it surprised him when he looked through the binocular and realised it was Shanti with her collar on. He tried scanning her but he did not pick up her signals which means the collar is not working. According to Florian, he clearly identified her and he is sure it was Shanti. It was impossible to take any photo as Shanti runs away in the long grass toward the koppie northwest of Keerweder. I think she has come up with the boys last night from Toskaan. Everyone at Keerweder was so excited to hear that she is probably alive.

 

The boys hunted around the 29th, but we were unable to confirm what, although there were a lot of oryx in the area.

 

Rob

 

Monday, 27 July 2009

Two more Rhinos Arrived at CCF Today

HI – we just got 2 more rhinos today – I was on the crate when one was released – a real adrenaline rush – boy are they strong and angry coming out of the box –Johan and Harry were both there – along with our vet friend Mark. 

 

So, two males – one ~ 12 (he is huge) and the other ~6yrs old. We have had guests already see them in the field!!!

 

And we have two more coming tomorrow – both females we hope!! 

 

More news tomorrow –

 

Laurie

Friday, 24 July 2009

From NamibRand: Shanti is alive! Updated on 24/07/2009

Good news to everyone, SHANTI is alive and in good health!  Ann’s theory of the boys going to Toskaan occasionally because they have picked up Shanti finally comes true. After some report from Sossousvlei Desert Lodge that they have seen six cheetahs instead of five at Toskaan, Florian saw Shanti today morning when he was driving from Aandstêr on the road to Keerweder (some few metres north of the pen. First he thought it was one of the boys but after searching and saw the five boys on the other side of the road, it surprised him when he looked through the binocular and realised it was Shanti with his collar on. He tried scanning her but he did not pick up her signals which means the collar is not working. According to Florian he clearly identified her and he is sure it was Shanti. It was impossible for her to take any photo as Shanti runs away in the long grass toward the koppie northwest of Keerweder. I think she has come up with the boys last night from Toskaan. Everyone at Keerweder was so excited to hear that she is probably alive.

 

Once again, the boys are back to Keerweder area from Toskaan where we left them yesterday and they marked the poles and a quiver tree near the guest house last night as usual. It seems like the Jeye’s fluid (with strong smell) that we used last time to clean all the marking in the area (wall, stoep, trees and poles) did not work at all. They were lying next to one another in the river bed near the pen as it was windy and cold today.

 

Let’s thank the boys they have found Shanti for us. Now we know why they keep visiting Toskaan area.

I will be in touch soon….

 

With regards - Selma

 

NamibRand Nature Reserve

Cheetah Re-introduction Programme

Thursday, 23 July 2009

NamibRand Wild Cheetah Mother whereabouts as of 22/July

The female has again spent almost the whole of the past week within a very small area (moving no more than 200m in any direction), but this current location is about 1 km SW of her den from last week.  I have included two maps, one showing the wide picture (and the reserve boundary), and the other a close focus on her movements, still unfortunately on Zaries.

 

Rob

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

NamibRand cheetahs - field report as of 21/July

The boys seem to be remaining in the area, although they are spending increasing amounts of time lurking around the farmhouse that is Park HQ instead of the girls pen.  

 

Here are some of the field reports from Selma...

 

12th:

 

Yesterday they walked up to Toskaan area, of which I believe they were hunting and they could not catch any prey therefore they came back to the pen. Today morning they hunt a sub-adult male springbok just next to the pen fence. I think they used the method of chasing the springbok in the fence in order to catch it as there was a proof of it. The prey is fully consumed, only the neck area which is not eaten.

 

13th:

 

Our boys are doing fine although they are still moving around the pen, sooner or later they will realise that the girls are gone and start roaming away from the pen. Today afternoon as we observe them, they are moving toward Draaihoek and Toskaan. It seems like they have created a route of which they are moving between Toskaan and Keerweder pen.  As usual Kia is leading the group walking infront followed by Ra, Lindt and Cadbury. Mushara stayed behind standing on the granite rock and observing the surrounding area. He then followed the others after two minutes. I think they are out hunting.

 

17th:

 

The boys are back to Keerweder area, they were just in front of the guest house early in the morning. It will be so hard for these boys to leave Keerweder vicinity as they are used to the area, they will keep on going and coming back. The ‘stoop’ in front of the guest house has become their marking area of which in some cases they spend their night and urinate there.

 

I think they are out hunting as they were quite observant. According to Florian, they approached a herd of red hartebeest and chased one but they were not that serious because they only chased it for few seconds and were not that fast. They were walking toward Boscia, hopefully they successfully hunted later in the afternoon.

I will let you know if they hunt or not when I track them tomorrow.

 

You can see from the attached map how they forage out, then return straight back to the same area.  

 

Rob

Monday, 20 July 2009

Too Much Gala Excitement!

The CCF gala Saturday night in Windhoek went well; everyone was dressed up - you wouldn't recognise us!  But on the way back to CCF the next day, Kate, Matt, Rob, Lee, and Ryan were in a car accident. They overturned the car about 30 km before Okahandja. Kate was driving one of the new bakkies (trucks) and apparently another vehicle swerved onto the road in front of her!  She tried to avoid a collision but failed. The bakkie rolled a couple of times before coming to a standstill on its roof.  Everyone escaped unharmed except scrapes here and there.  Glad that there was a roll bar, otherwise things would have been worse. But all the gala items were scattered all over the highway!
 
Matti Nghikembua
CCF Senior Research Assistant
 

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Matt Sollberg discusses his camera-trap study

Two weeks in and all18 stations are clear and operating. Clearing the vegetation is very labor intensive. I was quick to learn that most plants in Namibia have well designed defenses. For example, the acacia trees, which make up most up the plant biomass in Namibia, have sharp thorns up to three inches long.  They are a formidable match!

Clearing vegetation allows the camera traps to trigger only when an animal is visiting the site. We want to avoid capturing photos of any moving vegetation. Clean sites also allow us to see tracks left by visiting organisms. In order to capture pictures of visiting cheetahs and leopards, all of our cameras are mounted on posts 75 cm above the ground. Ryan, Matti and I have been checking the cameras every Monday and Thursday. While visiting the sites, we check the camera’s position, film, and batteries. We also look for changes at each site to see whether or not a large carnivore has visited the play tree/play mound. We can confirm predator visitation by tracks, scat and scratch marks on the tree. This is important when working with film, because we are unable to determine what organism visited the site that day.

 

Our camera traps need their batteries and film rolls changed weekly. With camera traps operating for an entire three months, this study requires a great deal of resources.  We hope to switch to digital cameras in the future to reduce the need for upkeep and film development.

 

I’m really interested in studying how large predators interact. Cheetahs are normally diurnal predators, but we’ve captured them on film visiting play trees during the night.. This puts the cheetah in direct contact with CCF’s largest nocturnal predator, the leopard.

 

I’ve already began asking several questions over this study. I’m interested in discovering the importance of play trees to CCF’s large predators: How are play trees used in predator communication; how do play trees aid in the animals orientation; and how do cheetahs and leopards play tree use differ? Hopefully this year’s traps will provide some insight into the behavior of large predators in Namibia.  I look forward to sharing our results in the near future.

 

Matt

 

 

Friday, 17 July 2009

Intern researches predator population at CCF

Hi, I’m Matt Solberg an intern here at the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) in Namibia. Growing up, I’ve always been passionate about wildlife conservation. Born in Eugene, Oregon, I spent a lot of time enjoying the outdoors. The woods became my backyard as I explored every hillside and mountain top. I dreamed of exploring distant continents and studying wildlife abroad. During my freshman year at Oregon State University I looked into travelling abroad. After attending a presentation on the CCF, I was hooked. I looked into IE3 (a global internships program at Oregon State University) and discovered several international internships abroad. IE3 matches students with host organizations who strongly support experiential education to develop internships that relate to the student’s career interests. I was amazed by previous student’s experiences with IE3. Working directly with my college, IE3 offered a chance to learn abroad while providing me with credits in my major. As a Zoology major interested in conservation and human-predator conflict, I knew CCF would offer an amazing opportunity that fit my interests.

 

Currently I’m using camera traps to survey predator populations on CCF’s eight farms. I was inspired to work with trap cameras after meeting Dennis Wilson, a biology professor in Phoenix, Arizona. Dennis had been visiting CCF to teach an international course and collect data for his courses back home. Intrigued by his research, I talked with Dr. Laurie Marker about my interests and the possibility of working with trap cameras. Days later, Dr. Marker introduced me to a three month project working with trap cameras alongside Matti Nghikembua (CCF’s Senior Research Ecologist) and Ryan Richards (the Intern Coordinator at CCF).

 

The camera trap study focuses on predator behaviour around sites known as play trees.  Play trees are large sloped trees commonly visited by cheetahs and leopards. Predators often mark territory, leave scat, scratch claws, and survey the savannah at play trees. With 36 trap cameras and 18 stations, we set up 2 cameras at each site. These cameras allow us to record what animals live in the area, how numerous they are, how they are living amongst farmers, and what condition they are in. The cameras are set eight meters apart on posts 75cm high (predator height). This allows us to see passing wildlife and identify distinguishing marks on the animal. Using these unique marks we can determine how often the particular organism visits the site. The trap cameras provide a non-invasive approach to data collection. The information collected helps CCF understand how local wildlife coexist with agricultural communities.

 

Thursday, 16 July 2009

NamibRand wild female cheetah update as of 16/July

The female is continuing to spend her time on farmland around 12-17 km East of the NRNR.  Interestingly she appears to have started returning repeatedly to the same spot (highlighted in green) and spending her nights there.  Given that it's been approximately three months since she left the reserve in heat, this may indicate that she has had a new litter of cubs. Rob

 

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

CCF's cheetahs and dogs hit the spotlight: Watch ABC's Nightline tonight at 11:35pm

ABC News' Dan Harris visited CCF recently to do a report on our work. Click here to view the segment that aired this morning on Good Morning America.

The full report will air tonight, Tuesday 14th July at 11:35pm, on ABC's Nightline. Don't miss it!

Patricia

Sunday, 12 July 2009

FW: cubs all at CCF

We caught the cubs – 3 yesterday and 1 this morning. We worked on them all today ~ 3 months of age – 1 female 3 males – we will name the female Polly and one of the males Tony.

One of the males had a huge gash in his shoulder and we had to stitch him up – they have all now eaten and are settling in – we have a lot of work now to get them settled.

Our EarthWAtch group leaves tomorrow – and much to do as our gala in next Saturday.

OK – I know that you all were worried about cubs so we are all glad they are OK.

Laurie

Dr. Laurie Marker, DPhil

Founder/Executive Director

Cheetah Conservation Fund

P.O. Box 1755

Otjiwarongo, Namibia

Phone: +264 (0)67 306225

FAX: +264 (0)67 306247

www.cheetah.org

Please help the wild cheetah. Donate Now.

CCF is supported globally by affiliate non-profit organizations in the United States, United Kingdom, Namibia, Canada, Japan, Holland, Italy and Germany. Visit the 'About CCF' Section on our website to learn more about donating through a local organization supporting CCF at www.cheetah.org


Saturday, 11 July 2009

Update from Namibia

We just had some sad news, one of the female cheetahs that had a satellite collar on for the past year was found dead in a fence– very strange -- she was caught around her waist – and she has four cubs, so we picked her up a few days ago and went down today to set a trap to try to catch the cubs, estimated at around 4 months' old. The four cubs are almost all caught. As of yesterday, we had three in a box and the fourth in the cage which has not triggered, as Kate and Gail await the final catch. So this is good news. We hope that the final cub will be caught shortly so they can come back home.

And Leia has been eating and maybe doing much better.

All the best,

Laurie

Friday, 10 July 2009

Chewbaaka Celebrates His 14th Birthday!!!

Fourteen years is a long time by anyone's measure. For a cheetah, it is a milestone rarely achieved.

Help us commemorate Chewbaakas birthday. Demonstrate your commitment to saving cheetahs in the wild. Through August 31, every donation will be matched, dollar for dollar, in honor of CCFs cheetah ambassador, Chewbaaka, who turned 14 this month. Charlie Atterbury,Angela Caveness Weisskopf, and an anonymous donor have challenged usto match their combined$50,000 commitment. Donate now to double your gift and help us meet this challenge.
Chewbaaka has seen amazing changes, not only in his immediate surroundings, but also in the cheetah's fight for survival. Read about some of the changes Chewbaaka has seen.
CCF remains in the forefront of ensuring that cheetahs remain wild and free, but we still have a long way to go before the survival of the cheetah is guaranteed. Please help CCF meet its goal by honoring Chewbaaka with a generous donation today. Remember, your contribution will be matched! CCF needs your financial support today.
Don't have money? Please help us spread the word!

video

The Cheetah Conservation Fund staff and cheetahs thank you for your commitment to saving cheetahs in the wild.


Monday, 6 July 2009

Quick Update from NamibRand

I’ve got to say, it feels great to be back on the Reserve after being away! I know it was only for a week but still… Anyway, some news for everyone involved.

As far as the boys are concerned, they seem to be doing great. Their condition is excellent and they still appear to be eating regularly.

Misty and Rosy should be boxed up by this evening if everything goes to plan. Matt and Kate were by far the best choices to have down here and when we made all the final arrangements yesterday, their input was vital and concise. They seem pleased with the set-up and I hope we can get those two back to CCF with a minimal amount of stress.

Unfortunately, even with the help of a massive search party we still have nothing on Shanti. Corris and Selma covered the entire Northern part of the Reserve (SDL, Hyena Water etc,) Flo, his volunteers and my Dad all searched around Moringa, Draaihoek and Bushman Kopjes, while Matt, Kate and myself looked on the outside of the reserve, involving the farm land from here to Sesriem and then back down past Nooihof farm. This trek went on for nearly 7 hours but we still couldn’t even get a sound. At one stage Kate and I though we had something but after an intensive check it turned out to be nothing.

Tomorrow will be the big day for her though. I’ll be going up to aerial track in the morning with the N/a’an ku sê guys but I fear that if we don’t pick anything up, then our next steps will have to be planned very carefully. I’ll be in touch as soon as we touch down though to let you all know what’s happening. Today we will try again but I want to spend some time with the boys and let Matt and Kate take a look at Ra who the others think may be limping again. All five are together though, and he had eaten with them when I saw them on Friday so I don’t think there is any reason to be concerned.

That’s all for now, but I’ll be in touch shortly.

Thanks,

James

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Chewbaaka's birthday

HI – quick update –

We got a 6 new dairy goats last night (Chewbaaka’s birthday present) – one I have named The Rubaiyat (of Omar Khayam) – all are pregnant due to give birth in the next couple weeks.

The day before yesterday Chewbaaka caught himself a hare in his enclosure – he stalked it, ran and caught it – at 14!!

We had puppies by Tylee the night before last – there were 10 puppies but 6 were still born – never had a problem like this before so did necropsies today to see what was going on – maybe canine herpes.

The busiest days at CCF are over for now – but the next few months we will still be busy (just not all on the same day).

Laurie