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Saturday, 26 February 2011

The CCF Vet gives us an update on Chewbaaka.

Yesterday morning, the morning after his anaesthetic, Chewbaaka ate very well and we medicated him with an anti-inflammatory to ease his pain as well as some stomach orange-flavoured suspension which is used to protect the stomach from ulceration. He is urinating well but we are still waiting to see if his defaecation is normal.

Although there are no open wounds, we have put him on a short course of antibiotics in case there was any minor internal injuries and to reduce any risk of secondary infection. We have kept him on some anti-inflammatories for the past few days to keep him comfortable but today will be his last day as we do not want to over-do the medications due to his poor kidney function and the risk of gastric ulceration which can occur with long-term anti-inflammatory use. Also, he is now no longer so keen to eat his orange-flavoured stomach protecting solution.

He ate again today and is generally alert, breathing well and interested in his environment. He is still quite stiff when walking particularly on his left side but I am fairly confident that there are no serious internal injuries and that he should hopefully make a good recovery in time. Unfortunately extensive bruising does take some time to heal properly but the pain should ease in the next few days. So for now we are just keeping him as comfortable and happy as possible.

Kind regards
Anna Haw (CCF's Vet)

Friday, 25 February 2011

A good thought for Chewbaaka, please.

The last couple days have been like a bizarre movie that now one could actually make up. I headed off on Wednesday with the International Course and the Wild SOS film crew to go to Etosha and to interview a farmer.

Bruce called me as I was travelling and told me that in the middle of the night a rabid kudu jumped into Chewbaaka’s pen. He heard lots of noise from all the other cheetahs around – growling and hissing. He went out into the yard and there was a big bull kudu with foam at its mouth and going in circles in the pen – this is the fourth kudu in our housing area in the past month.

Kudu rabies began around 1978 and in the drought of the 1980’s it killed off nearly 80% of the country's kudu. Its believed to be transmitted by a rabid jackal biting a kudu. The kudus, which are browsers, eat the thorn bushes and get cuts in the inside of their mouths. Then their behaviour is to lick each other and put their tongues in the inside of another kudu’s mouth. So, it is believe that the rabies is transmitted orally. Well, we have been dealing with kudu rabies for the past several years, as the epidemic is moving through the country. We are at an all-time high right now throughout.

Well, poor Bruce, he was hoping of a quiet night and the kudu incident happened. As he got out into the yard, he found Chewbaaka panting in an exhausted heap. Bruce was able to encourage Chewbaaka into another yard and then had to shoot the kudu so it could be taken to the state vet the next morning to confirm rabies.

I got home later in the day to find poor Chewbaaka very, very sore and not able to walk well. Oh my! Bruce and I monitored him all day today and this evening found that he has an oozing under his rear legs. He was licking and again and was very, very weak, stiff, sore and dehydrated.

Well, we had no choice but to anaesthetise him this evening – a big decision due this age and his renal history over this past year. We got him to the clinic and began looking for what injuries he may have. He was full of fly maggots, and what we found I have never seen nor I would think that anyone would have ever seen: he is bruised in his entire stomach area and the inner thighs of his rear legs. We had to shave all the hair to clean and see if there were any puncture wounds. We found none. However, the bruising is so bad that he has hematomas throughout his stomach. They are weepy, like if you get a rug burn, so, somehow whatever took place between him and the kudu, his stomach took a huge beating.

We are worried about internal damage, however, all his vitals look OK. But, we are not able to say that he's is out of the woods on this one. We worked on him from 7pm until 9:30. Right now he is down on his bed, covered with blankets and hot water bottles. We are trying to stabilise his temperature and hope that the anesthesia will wear off OK. Needless to say, this has been quite stressful.

On to other topics, Cheetah Keeper Matt reported that Cleo did not come to the truck in Bellebenno for her food. So for the past two days we have had a search group out in the 200-acre camp looking for her...she's just is not there. We will keep you posted on this one. Cheetahs at CCF just don’t vanish. Perhaps she found a hole in the fence that no one else has found --cheetahs or people.

As I reported before, on Monday we worked on the wild female cheetah that had to go to the dentist and have a tooth extracted. Her collar is on and ready to go. We put her back with her two 2-year old sons and this morning opened the gates of their enclosure for a soft release. We set camera traps and will know when she and sons, who had been put with another young male (also about 2), as well as two wild females cheetahs that have been with us for several months growing big enough to go out into the wild. The whole family team will go out, hopefully tonight.

If all of this wasn't enough, two of our volunteers, Laurie from Sacramento, and Jean from Vermont – both artists, went into Otjiwarongo today to work with the art school. I went in later in the day to meet the kids who were coming to help draw cheetahs. Laurie brought a lot of donated art supplies to the art school. We had 40 students from 6 schools! Laurie and Jean will do more over the next week and next week we will go in to get their final drawings so Laurie will take them back to the US and do a fund raiser with them for us.

In the middle of all of this, it's pouring cats and dogs --lighting and thundering right above us. This is such a bizarre time. The rain is unbelievable. Simon Cowell from Wildlife SOS (UK) and his film crew have been here for the last few days.I'm sure they didn't expect all this happening!

OK – that’s what’s new here. Chewbaaka is just outside sleeping in his bed and Bruce is with him. We certainly hope that we can reduce his pain and help him. This was more than a traumatic experience for all of us.

Wish us well tonight...Chewbaaka is really hurting.


Wednesday, 23 February 2011

NamibRand female - update as of 23/Feb

Ater not getting any data last week, we have a small number of points this
week.  The female has again moved further north, and again crossed onto a
new farm.  Whenever I'm next lucky enough to visit the NamibRand area in
person, I'll probably recognise every farm name there!  The latest farm that
she's crossed onto is Gorrasis, which lies immediately north of Shangri-La.
The farm apparently used to be called Hyas, but beyond that snippet, I know
absolutely nothing about it.  Somewhat confusingly though, there appears to
be another farm with the same name towards the south of NRNR.

As of 9pm yesterday evening, the female was 2 km NW of the Shangri-La
border, 4.7 km NE of the C19, and 21 km north of the NRNR border on the same
longitude as Keerweder.


Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Update from Dr. Laurie Marker

Hello! We are having intermittent email reception due to satellite issues, but thought I’d send a quick update on what’s going on here at CCF.

Our international course has been here for a week – and all the participants are great! They come from Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Benin and Brazil. CCF’s 2010 Cheetah Conservationist of the Year Award recipient, John Kasaona, was here to talk to the course participants and did a fantastic job. John is Chairman of the Namibian Association of Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) Support Organisations (NACSO).

Incidentally, John will be in the US as a speaker at the Association for the Promotion of Tourism to Africa (APTA)’s events: Focus on Africa and Discover Africa, which will be held in Denver, Seattle, Phoenix and Los Angeles starting the 8 March. For information please visit the APTA web site. These events will provide a wonderful opportunity to meet trade representatives from Africa.

We have a new vet, Anna Haw, and she’s great. Saturday was her first day working on cheetahs when we worked up on three males with the help of the international course people. The males, Chuck, Geno and Crosby, have been here for about a year and were recently moved to the Scar males’ enclosure. All six of these male cheetahs will be moving to Naua Naua – a lodge near Etosha, where we have had four other cheetahs over the years. One of those cats has a bad molar and we need to take him to the dentist; it will be either a root canal or an extraction.

Yesterday we fitted a collar on the wild female cheetah that arrived here at the end of October. Remember? She had had some dental work done. We had been waiting for a satellite collar which after two months finally arrived from New Zealand – it apparently was lost en route for a month so they finally sent another one. She and her two sons, along with two other female cheetahs, have been living together for the past month to get used to each other so they can all be released together. We hope will stay together as a family.

Isha, our scat detection dog killed a spitting cobra a few days ago. She scared us all badly as we originally thought that it was a mamba, which would have meant certain death, but fortunately she is OK. It is interesting that she has gone through snake avoidance training, and yet I think her guarding bloodlines are just so very strong.

At CCF’s teaching farm, all our goats and sheep are having their kids and lambs. Yesterday morning we had two lambs. We now have ~ 28 goat kids and ~ 8 lambs with more to come. Timing births of livestock is an important element of avoiding conflict with predators.

Rains have continued. Sunday we had what we call a “dam-filling rain,” with about 40 mm in just about 30 minutes. Heavy rains have caused a few problems on our thatch roofs, so some will need to be repaired or replaced. For those of you who have been here, The Hot Spot, our common dining area, had roof damage and we had to put a tarp over it. However, with heavy winds, the tarp blew off! That roof will have to be replaced. With the rains we have also welcomed our first group of volunteers this year: five from Earthwatch and four private volunteers. We also have a film crew from Wildlife SOS in the UK, so there is plenty going on here!

Finally, all the cheetah cubs are growing like weeds.

All the best,

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

NamibRand Female - update as of 8/2

We do have slightly more data this week than last - three points instead of just one, and I have also included last week's lone point so that you can see exactly where she is coming from.  Close examination of the raw data from the satellite indicates that the collar made several more attempts to communicate data on the 7th and 8th, which suggests that there is still life in there.  Only time will tell however.

There is still no indication that the female crossed the border into Voorspoed, but she did remain in that area on the Neuhof side for at least a couple of days.  Now however she has moved north once more and onto yet another new farm for her - the exotically named "Shangri-La".

As of 01:29 on Tuesday, she was 16 km north of the NRNR border - almost precisely due north of Keerweder, 1.5 km NW of the Neuhof Reserve border and 2.6 km NE of the C19.


Monday, 7 February 2011

Fabiana: a little dog with a chance to start afresh

Fabiana was born on the 8th January 2008 to Amos, a purebred Anatolian, and Mammie, a beautiful “mongretolian” (half mongrel, half Anatolian). Three-quarter Anatolians like Fabiana were bred to help farmers that could not afford to keep a purebred Anatolian, but were still committed to caring for a guarding dog. Unfortunately, Fabiana’s owner lives and works in Windhoek and rarely came to the farm to see the dog. The workers at the farm were not concerned about Fabiana’s health and did not report that the dog was getting too thin; they simply said that she no longer wanted to work. The owner then assumed that she was “too old” to work – though she was only 3 years old!

When the CCF dog team arrived at the farm as part of regular follow ups, we found Fabiana in very poor condition and saw that she was not fed properly. That day, the 17th of December 2010, we took her away from the farm and explained to the owner that she was not too old to work, she just needed to be cared for properly. Once back at CCF, Fabiana was showered with good food and love and kept with some goats and sheep for company. Despite her previous experiences with people, she is an incredibly friendly, calm and good-natured little dog that was clearly well bonded with livestock. Knowing that she would still be an excellent guarding dog, we started looking for a new home where she would be appreciated.
Fabiana at her new home with Rasta – farm worker; Isak Ouseb – Manager of the co-operative; and Sam – the herder that will be working with her. .
This home came in the form of Mr. Isak Ouseb, the manager of a farmers’ co-operative that assists local farmers to turn their subsistence farming practices into commercial operations. The co-operative had received another of our ¾ Anatolians and had taken care of the young dog exceptionally well. Although Mr. Ouseb does not own the livestock at the co-operative (it is collectively owned by several farmers), he takes the care of his guarding dog personally and treated our first dog like his own.

In keeping with good livestock practices, the co-operative keeps its male sheep and goats separate from the female herd until it is time for mating selected quality males with the females. Thus, they required one guarding dog for their male herd and one for their female herd. Having seen the excellent care that they had provided the first dog, we had no doubts about giving them another dog – Fabiana. When we placed her on the 29th of January 2011 she was welcomed by Mr. Ouseb and the herder with open arms. When placed with the herd, she joined them without hesitation and stayed with them when we left. We are confident that this friendly little dog will love her new home and adapt quickly to living with her new family.

The farmers’ co-operative is an excellent example of Namibian people helping each other to become better farmers. Mr. Ouseb is an energetic manager and is always looking to uplift the community that relies on the co-operative. Since he started helping them, the co-operative was awarded the “Best Improved Co-operative in Namibia” out of 64 other operations. Mr. Ouseb values education highly and he asked if CCF could come and give a training course to the farmers in the area; they would hold the sessions in the co-operative’s training centre. As part of our Future Farmers’ of Namibia training programme, CCF will happily fulfil his request and we look forward to training these farmers in the near future.


Thursday, 3 February 2011

The next cheetahs to be re-wilded?

Recently the daily feeding routine was a little bit different as the Four Scientists (a group of four males named Darwin, Fossey, Livingstone and Mendel) were no where to be seen when CCF’s keepers arrived at the gate to their pen. This was HIGHLY unusual as the eager Scientists are always waiting for the feeding car when it arrives. Concerned about the cats, we quickly drove into the 5-ha pen and began to search the pen. To my relief we quickly found them in the middle of one of the roads, and the reason for the Scientists absence was discovered. A young female Kudu had made the very poor decision to jump the fence and had been taken down by the four males.
The Four Scientists
Bite wounds around the Kudu’s neck indicated that the boys had performed a very efficient kill which is good news considering that the Scientists could possibly be our next candidates for a soft release into the Bellebenno game camp! Certainly to be considered.

We left the Scientists to enjoy their prize and did not have to feed them again for quite a few days!

Keeper Matt

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

CCF's Breeding Dogs Update

It’s the rainy season in Namibia and CCF's new puppies are growing nearly as fast as the weeds! Aleya, the eldest of the four, is now more legs than dog and promises to become an elegant Kangal when she grows into those legs! Chino (photo - left) is an exceptionally affectionate little Anatolian who greets us with enthusiasm every morning and patiently endures being checked for ticks. Our French duo, Firat and Feliz (below), have quickly become part of the dog/livestock family. This is especially true for young Firat who never wants to leave his herd and howls when separated from them. These four young dogs represent a bright future for CCF's Livestock Guarding Dog programme, so their excellent progress as working dogs is especially encouraging. This coming year, we will continue to breed our adult dogs and hope to produce four litters: two from our Anatolian females, Uschi and Penda, and litters for the first time from our two Kangals, Cazgir and Hediye.


Gail and Carolyn
Livestock Guarding Dog Programme

The Cheetah Conservation Fund's Re-Wilding Continues