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Thursday, 31 March 2011

A good Chewbaaka day!

After having had a very rough day yesterday, Chewbaaka surprised us this morning. He started off by greeting Bruce with a purr (he didn't purr at all yesterday) and then he decided to lap the blended meat Anna (our veterinarian) had prepared for him, and he had more of it over the day; in total he had more food today than any of the days in the last several weeks, and of course he got his SC fluids in the evening.

Yesterday we were so worried about him: he seemed to have lost his good attitude and categorically refused to eat (all we could do is to give him IV glucose which Anna managed to administer in the morning).

Sorry we did not update Chewbaaka's friends and supporters yesterday, we wanted to see how he progressed before worrying everybody even more. We need to keep in mind that although today was a relatively good day for Chewbaaka, we do need to stay very cautious not to be too optimistic as his prognosis remains guarded and he is still very weak from his long struggle, but he certainly is a fighter, and we do all we can to help him in his fight.

With Chewbaaka purrs for all,

Anne Schmidt-Küntzel

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Kangal news from CCF

We have some very sad news for you regarding Cazgir, one of the two Kangals donated to CCF in 2008 thanks to our Dutch partner, the SPOTS Foundation.

Spots and Cazgir with Laurie, Armas and Simone Eckhardt (SPOTS Foundation) after their arrival at CCF
You might recall that towards the end of 2010, Kangal female Cazgir was diagnosed with early stages of tongue cancer (Squamous Cell Carcinoma or SCC). Due to this early diagnosis, we estimated that the treatment had a good chance of success. Sadly, despite all our efforts, SCC appears to have won the battle (although we are awaiting the histology results).

Cazgir had not been eating well for a while and was losing condition, so Anna (our veterinarian) took her into the CCF clinic to monitor her closely. Cazgir received great care, was walked and fed a rich diet, and seemed to enjoy the extra care and attention. Unfortunately she started to show signs of respiratory distress. This morning Anna decided to take her into the Otjiwarongo Veterinary Clinic for an X-ray and a second opinion, but Cazgir went downhill very quickly and unfortunately died before we could get her to town, despite the resuscitation efforts.

This is a sad loss. Cazgir was one of the female Kangals whose litters were were hoping to welcome soon. Research on SCC is a crucial part of CCF's work, as  photographic assessment showed that the the number dogs affected with SCC could be as high as or even higher than 30%. Last year we collected over 60 samples from livestock guard dogs throughout Namibia. The data will be analysed to assess prevalence of SCC in the country, repartition, and hopefully give indications regarding risk factors. Another aspect of the this project is the establishment of a DNA bank for future genetic studies related to SCC; therefore, last year we collected blood during a health survey conducted on farms as well as from all puppies that were bred. Please refer to our annual progress reports for more information on this research by clicking here.

On a brighter note, Spots will be moved from Boskop to the CCF centre to become a Kangal ambassadour for our visitors. Spots loves attention and will be staying at the Visitor's Centre during the day, where he will be an active member of our Education programme and greet our guests on arrival.

More news soon!

Anne Schmidt-Küntzel

Monday, 28 March 2011

Anne updates us on Chewbaaka.

Hi everyone!

In Laurie’s absence (she left for the UK yesterday), I want to update you on our beloved Mr. C:

He ate very well on Sunday afternoon, he took all his food easily from our vet Anna; she really does have the technique down very well.

Unfortunately in the evening Chewbaaka looked very tired and weak despite the fact that he had received all the attention, food and care that we could during the day. In the evening we gave him his subcutaneous fluids and had Ansgar (Earthwatch volunteer and pediatrician) help us with it and take his heart rate --it was 128. This is in the lower range of a normal heart rate at rest, so we are happy with that. Chewbaaka seems to be very stable with his heart rate over the days.

This morning Bruce and Anna moved Chewbaaka, he seemed weaker than the other days, but we put him up with a heating blanket and Anna fed him 400g of chicken and liver. Chewbaaka put up much more resistance this morning, but with a lot of dedication from Anna’s side he ate it all.

We are keeping an eye on him and Anna will feed him again at lunchtime. We will keep you posted.

Dr. Anne Schmidt-Küntzel


Friday, 25 March 2011

Chewbaaka doing better!

Hi! Here is a quick update.

Mr. C was really much better today and I am a bit uptimistic (it’s all relative to bad vs real bad vs not as bad). However, I felt that today he joined us in the living world again.  He was alert, almost wanted to eat and was almost helping me feed him. He had a good poop and his urine is a bit concentrated – it is amazing that maybe he is ready to join us again in the world of the living.  As a cat, he has been in his own space. His wounds are still painful but healing a bit every day.

All is hectic today, as I am getting ready to leave for the UK on Sunday if all is OK here – and Mr. C. is on the right road.


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Thursday, 24 March 2011

Chewbaaka doing better; Persian New Year; Goats; Dogs... Laurie's update.

Hi! It’s been a hectic two days.

To begin with, Chewbaaka is doing better than he was a couple of days ago. We got his blood results after the Independence Day holidays (everything closes at this time...glad I wasn't sick!). We found a high white cell count (infection) and low red blood cell count (anemic), so are re-balancing him with antibiotics and iron (liver and a nutrient supplement). Yesterday we stopped the pain meds but are still giving him fluids and he had a great poop – which is so important. He seems to be responding and his legs are healing. He still won’t eat on his own but is drinking very well. He always purrs with us and has been more active. Although we are still guarded in our prognosis, we are more optimistic and hopeful that we have his issues under control.

It has been great having Kris and Jayne Bazos here from Chicago as they are learning everything about CCF and have given good thoughts to Mr. C.

On Tuesday night we had a belated celebration of the Persian New Year (which coincided with our Namibian Independence Day on Monday). The Iranian delegation attending our international course did an amazing presentation on the different aspects of the New Year! It was a very beautiful evening. Yesterday, our international course participants left for their field trip to Damaraland for interviews with the conservancy in Sesfontein. However, after nearly eight hours and being almost there, they were turned back due to flash floods in the desert, so they are now spending the night in Grootberg at the Conservancy offices – about 50 miles from their intended destination. More on this tomorrow since the Sesfontein has organised farmers' meetings with CCF and the course participants.

I had to say goodbye to them because I am leaving for the UK before they come back. It was sad; I won't see some of them again until I visit their countries, but hopefully I will see some of them at the airport when I return from the UK on the 3 April. Coincidentally, 3 April was when I arrived in Namibia, in 1991, to save the wild cheetah, with my two dogs, 14 trunks and six duffel bags!

On our goat front, we received four new dairy goats from a local farmer. They will add to our bloodlines and we are interested in increasing diversity as well as adding more milking goats to our herd. Our CCF cheeses are being sold in Spars (our local supermarket) and at local B&Bs – and everyone loves them including all our staff and visitors.

And on the livestock guard dog front, Penda just come into heat and we've put her in with male Amos. We hope for puppies in the next few months! This may be our only litter this year as our other dogs are too young.

All else here is going OK although busy as ever! But I wanted everyone to know that Mr. C. is doing better than we can believe, however, still under very supervised medical attention.


On the road!

Paula and I are busy putting together Dr. Marker's itinerary for the next couple of months, as her spring tour is about to start. Click here for our Event Calendar.

Firstly, don't miss Dr. Marker's lectures if you live in the UK --Broxbourne or Eynsford areas. On 28 March, Paradise Wildlife Park has organized a great evening that includes a stroll of their Big Cats at 6:30pm followed by Dr. Marker's lecture. You can book online here.

The next day, 29 March at noon, Dr. Marker will be at Eagle Heights during their famous African show. For more information click here.

On April 17, Dr. Marker will join the Animal Day celebrations at Beekse Bergen Safaripark in Holland. Stop by if you are in the area!

Also the CCF USA Chapters are busy planning all sorts of events this spring. Here are a few:

- Art Safari - Sacramento, CA - April 2
- Moorpark Spring Spectacular - Moorpark, CA - April 2, 3, 9 & 10
- 1st Annual CCF Golf Tournament - Carlsbad, CA - April 8
- Earth Fair 2011 - Balboa, CA - April 17
- Run for the Cheetah - Chicago (April 23) - Phoenix (April 30) - Portland (May 1)

Details for these events and others in the planning can also be found on our Events Calendar.

We hope you can join us, as every one of these events that benefit the wild cheetah!


Tuesday, 22 March 2011

News from Laurie - 21 March 2011

A quick update as it is late Monday night.

Mr. Chewbaaka is having a very bad day. We just finished with his SubQ fluids and oral nutrients. He is very weak and think that he has a bit of an imbalance going on, possibly lacking glucose. Hopefully tomorrow will be a bit better day. We will keep you all posted. It’s exhausting...he is such a good and kind friend and trusts me so, so much. But, we are not sure if we can pull him through this – his legs are looking better and he had a poop this morning – but, we are winning small battles and the big issue is his kidneys.

Our Earthwatch volunteers arrived yesterday and they are great. One of them is a pediatrician from Germany. He helped us tonight and it will be good to have him here for the next 2 weeks as he can help us with Mr. C. Also yesterday, CCF USA Trustee Jayne Bazos and her sister Kris --both incredibly dedicated through our Chicago chapter, stopped by on their way to Damaraland. They got to meet Mr. C and he purred for them and seemed stronger. I was glad they got to meet him. They will be back here for the next two days.

Namibia is celebrating its 21st Independence anniversary. On Monday Matti and I went into Otjiwarongo, where all the celebrations were held. We were invited to a small dinner with the President and I was able to present him with a Bushblok as a welcome token to the Cheetah Capital of the World. He was glad to see me! Then today, we took all our international course participants, as well as the Earthwatch volunteers, to the Independence Day celebrations. They all enjoyed seeing how our Namibian culture celebrates.

Matti and I were also invited to one of the special luncheons with dignitaries. I was in the President’s luncheon and sat with the Minister of Information and Broadcasting and his wife, who are also our neighbours and had a livestock guarding dog that just died earlier this year. The Minister's wife has been to several of our farmers’ training courses. It was so much fun being with them during this very important day and meeting even more Namibians with stories of their struggle for independence.

Back home our international course students are preparing for their Jamboland presentations. Jamboland is a project around a fictitious community with conflict requiring teams to put all their skills into play to create budgets as well as management and economic development plans. (By the way, we have photos and a press release of last month's course on our web site.) Then on Wednesday they will head off for their major field trip to Damaraland to do conduct survey/interviews. Unfortunately I will not see them after Wednesday as I will be heading to the UK on Saturday.

Just wanted to share with you all what is going on. I hope for better news tomorrow about Mr. C. Incidentally, I have moved my office to the kitchen counter since he got sick several months ago, so I can monitor him from the window/door. So, I am sitting in the kitchen --with Tiger Lily sitting next to me, writing this, and ready to go to bed.

Many cheetah purrs,


Friday, 18 March 2011

CCF's Daily Update from Laurie!

I went to Windhoek yesterday afternoon after all of Chewbaaka’s medical treatments and knowing that he was stable for the night. Anne and Bruce gave him fluids in the afternoon/evening and this morning he was pretty well– more mobile that he has been in the past several days and drinking water.

In Windhoek I went to our CANAM book launch – we presented our Conservancy book to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) and all the other conservation organisations in the country. It was a very nice launch; I have spearheaded this project, which took about three years, so it is very exciting to see it finished. All of our CCF staff put lots of time into maps and game densities, with Matti as the lead and Rob's assistance. As editors, Danica Shaw and myself were very proud – there were about 40 people at the launch.

After the launch, I attended the Windhoek Breweries annual awards dinner. You might remember that in July 2010 I was recognised as one of the country's Ambassadours of Good Will. This was a dinner recognising the monthly Good Will Ambassadours. It was such a great gathering! I had the honour to be with the Prime Minister of Namibia's at this dinner in my ambassadour role in cheetah conservation internationally. In addition, I was seated with the Minister of Environment and Tourism, the Hon. Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, and the retired Deputy Prime Minister, Libertina Amatilia, who since retiring is a farmer now and has one of our livestock guarding dogs. These two ladies are heroes of mine, as they fought for the country's freedom and have been great leaders since independence. I was able to tell the story of naming two of our female orphan cheetahs after these two amazing ladies. Actually, the Min of MET worked them up with us last year on her visit to CCF. And just a few weeks ago, both these two wild female cheetahs --I called them 'the Freedom Fighters,' were released into the wild along with a wild female and her two sons plus another male which bonded to the two brothers. We were able to put this group together over the past few months --which should be great to help them survive on their own.

I came back to CCF in the early afternoon and was able to give Chewbaaka his medications and feed him. He is doing better and I think that tomorrow will be an even better day for him and us as his care takers.

On a different note, two of our CCF USA board and trustee members, Angela Weisskopf and Beth Wallace, arrived to spend the next two days with us. In their honour and for Bruce’s birthday, we had a wonderful dinner out in the big field with all our international course participants. Motende, from Zambia, sang two very special songs, one for Bruce and the other for the cheetah!

All the best,

Monday, 14 March 2011

Chewbaaka, courses, new visitors... Update from Laurie

Remember the four-day game guard course I reported last week? I have included a group shot of them with Gail Potgieter (all the way on the right, on one knee). What a great group they were!

Chewbaaka is not doing very well today. He has been very dehydrated all day – he got 4 liters of sub-Q fluids during the day and all his meds. He did eat ~800 gr meat and liver but only moved once today into the grass and stayed there during the day; there was no rain so fortunately it was a nice day. Ah, tomorrow is another day.

The workups on the three Scars went fine; all of them are looking very good. The are now 2-years old and we were able to collect sperm from them; it was pretty good from all three; however, Tony was the best!

The international course participants really enjoyed learning today. Each of three groups worked on the cheetahs with us, the other rotating groups included learning how to wash scat and make slides from the prey hair that was in the scat and then to analyse the slides under the microscope. We hope that each group will make their own hair libraries back in their countries and be collecting scat and analysing it. The third group also learned how to use GPS (Global Position Systems) and began to learn about GIS (Global Information Systems) for mapping and spatial analysis.

We have two new animals that have moved into our areas. In our back yard where Chewbaaka lives, there is a rare black mongoose that has just appeared and is now living in our yard. I had never seen one before in all the years here in Namibia (or throughout Africa) -–will let you know more about it; it seems to like us. Then down at the Hot Spot (our communal dining area) lately at dinner time there is an aardwolf that just is out in the field in front of the dinner tables and it is does not seem to care that there are about 40 people right near it!

Life here never ceases to amaze me.


Chewbaaka eating more!

Another hopeful day watching Chewbaaka. We were able to give him ~1200 gr of meat today – during 3 feedings – as well as getting all his kidney meds and vitamins into him. He is now on an oral pain medicine vs. injectable. His kidneys are still not functioning very well so he got more sub Q fluids this evening. He is alert and resting peacefully. I was able to pull blood from him this evening and will know more about his blood values by late tomorrow we hope.

It poured rain today – we call it 'dam filling rain'! Meantime, our international course participants are doing well and tomorrow they will participate in the work up of the three male Scars –Phil, Tony and Mischief- for their annual checkups and vaccinations.


All the best and thanks for all the good thoughts for Chewbaaka. Please keep them up.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Laurie reports on Chewbaaka's progress

Chewbaaka is holding on today. He was up at about 4 a.m. wandering. I settled him down where he was calm until morning again. The biggest event was that he pooped at 9am!!! This was great. He continues to be dehydrated and we are trying to get ahead of his dehydration, so he had sub Q fluids in the morning and in the evening. This afternoon he did get pain meds again that knock him out some. We did get about 850 gr of liver and meat into to him and his kidney medicine.

So, we are keeping going. We hope that tomorrow will be a better day...each day we are taking as it comes. I am attaching a photo of the kudu that had jumped into his pen – the cheetahs behind are littleC and Blonde Man; they are on the other side of the fence. But, you can see the size of this kudu and for what Chewbaaka looks like, it must have been one heck of a fight. The kudu had to get shot.

Thanks and good night!

Friday, 11 March 2011

Chewbaaka purrs to all.

Hi! Chewbaaka made it through another day. His blood values are not very good, as his condition has really tasked his kidneys. We continue to fill him full of sub-Q fluids; he was very dehydrated this morning. But then he was a bit stronger during the day. He ate 800 grams of meat today. I stuffed it into his mouth and asked him to swallow –which he did- small amounts several times during the day. With this, we were able to get his kidney meds into him for the second day and also some vitamins.

He began grooming himself a few times today – this was great to see! And then this evening we gave him some more sub-Q fluids. His kidneys shut down some due to the trauma and we are hoping to get this under control to regulate his kidney function again to the level that he was at over the last few months...carefully guarded. So, in a nut shell, he is responding to our care. However, we continue to be very guarded as to his recovery. He is purring and seems to respond to the care we are giving him. He is a very strong and special cheetah.

Thanks for all the concern that is coming to us and I know that everyone is waiting with guarded anticipation of our next communications. I will keep you posted. All else here is OK.

Thanks everyone and many Chewbaaka purrs.


Some relief as Chewbaaka continues a slow recovery process.

A better day with Chewbaaka. He was still groggy this morning and not interested in eating; however he was more alert. He did more around the yard a bit today, though stiffly, but still he walked around some and was able to lay in the sun for a little while. We gave him another 2 litres of sub Q fluids and in the afternoon he got his pain meds that we finally got on special order from Windhoek (they are mild on his kidneys). Around 4pm I was able to force feed him ~300 gr of meat and he has a hard time swallowing once I stuff it into his mouth. The pain meds sort of knocked him out.

We had a really heavy rain storm so we had to get him back to the patio. We put him on a blanket and carried him on the blanket – this was very strange as Chewbaaka was groggy enough to let us do it. I never would have thought that I would be doing this with/for him. He is sleeping soundly right now.

This evening, as we head to bed, we feel as if we are on top on things: pain under control, antibiotics under control, and getting him to eat some – a positive.

On another note, our international course are another great group of people. I look forward to working more with them during the next couple weeks.

Good night and hope all is OK with all of you.


Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Chewbaaka recovering slowly...fingers crossed!

HI – Another long day. Chewbaaka slept most of the day which would be of course normal due to his age with anesthesia. However, this meant that he really did not want to drink much or eat. He seems more calm with his wounds as they may feel better (but still sore). He got long acting antibiotics which we were able to get from Windhoek yesterday. But, overall he was very weak. In the late afternoon I was able to give him some meat – force feeding -where I just put the meat bits in his mouth and made his swallow them –this worked quite well and overall was able to give him about 300gm this afternoon (remember he is used to eating 2kg of meat daily –so this is a small amount). In addition, this evening he was very dehydrated and we gave him another 3 liters of Sub Q fluids. He is sleeping more comfortably than most of the day today. We are hopeful that tomorrow he will be feeling a bit better.

Thanks to everyone for all your good thoughts. Chewbaaka is a strong old boy and seems to still have a will to keep going.

Will keep you posted tomorrow.


Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Chewbaaka Update

As reported yesterday on Facebook, today we another anesthesia on him to clean his wounds, put him on IV antibiotics, check his blood and re-assess the situation.
The CCF Team working on Chewbaaka
Dr. Carlos Sanchez, who has helped us so much for the past several years as part of the Smithsonian and is now based in Chicago, has provided valuable guidance for today's procedure.
Chewbaaka's skin where there is no hair looks quite raw and reddened but it looks as though healing is taking place. He was under anaesthesia for about 1.5hrs. About 2.5hrs after reversal of the anesthesia he got was obviously nauseous but now he is now recovering from and is sleeping calmly.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Laurie sends news from Namibia

Days are so hectic here! A cheetah that we had placed at the Naua Naua Lodge well over six years ago died today. Kate travelled up to collect him so we can conduct a necropsy tomorrow. We think that it might be a snake bite.

We just bid farewell to our four-day game guard, integrated wildlife, livestock and predator training group, which was led by Gail. They are from throughout Namibia and wanted to join our international course last month; however most of them did not speak English, so we decided to organise this special course for them. They were great and really eager to learn. Also tonight we say goodbye to this month's Earthwatch volunteers. They are always so wonderful.

Our next International Conservation Biology Course begins tomorrow with about 20 people from eight countries. They will spend the next month with us.

So much going on...I can ‘t even begin to describe what it’s like, especially with Chewbaaka not doing well. I do want to thank every one of you for your concern and all the good wishes. He is such an amazing cheetah.

I will try to write more soon.


Thursday, 3 March 2011

Cruise euthanised, but Chewbaaka stabilising.

Dear Friends...Sorry for this news.

We had to euthanise Cruise today. He was showing no improvement so we darted him to bring him into the clinic for examination and an ultra sound, as we thought that his problems were complications due to his history with testicular cancer discovered last year. Unfortunately, the examination revealed a huge elongated tumor along his spermatic cord which we think had blocked his ureters causing an enlarged bladder. There was also a large fluid build up in his stomach. Sadly euthanasia was the only decision to be made. We will conduct a full necropsy on him tomorrow morning.

Chewbaaka is stabilising a bit. He ate small amounts of food during the day and we got a good fecal sample from him last night. We continue to be hopeful; however his legs are still very damaged and he continues to be very unstable and sore on his rear legs. In addition, an eye problem may be manifesting, possibly caused by trauma.
Two of the OK cubs: Kayjay and Senay.
On the brighter side, the OK cubs had their first day in the big yard by the Education Centre and seemed to have a good time running around in this new area. We thought we'd share a recent picture of them for a smile. Also, our farmer’s course is doing well today.

Cheetah purrs to all,


Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Chewbaaka, Cruise, arts, courses...CCF update from Laurie.

We went to Otjiwarongo with three lady volunteers (two CCF and one Earthwatch. We visited six schools as part of an arts programme we are developing for Otji. The ladies talked at the schools and picked up artwork from them for an art exposition that will be held on Friday at the Otjiwarongo Art Centre from 5 to 7pm! Then we met all the other art students at the Art Centre for collection of paintings and more painting. I also meet with about 15 ladies who will be doing embroideries for CCF. Very nice quality.

We then took Crosby (one of the young male cheetahs that came to CCF last year) to the dentist. He he had a broken molar that we discovered a week ago Saturday when we worked him and his two brothers up, since we are getting ready to send them to another facility here in Namibia. Our dentist, Dr. Profit, did a great job as always. One of our CCF volunteers, who is a retired dentist and has done work on animals, was also with us. Crosby is doing great.

Good news. Chewbaaka is looking a bit better today; he ate more and defecated some. Still very sore, but each day is a blessing. Cruise, on the other hand, is not looking very good. He was diagnosed with testicular cancer last year, and and we think it has metastasised throughout his body.

Gail explaining international course participants how to identify a livestock kill.
We have a group of 28 Namibian conservancy game guards here for the next four days going through an Integrated Livestock, Wildlife and Predator conflict course. Gail and Gebs are leading this. In the meantime, we are also getting ready for our next international Conservation Biology course. About 20 students from different cheetah-range countries will be joining us for the next month as of Sunday. The last course just left on Sunday and they were great!

So.. just another day at CCF.

Better news: the female cheetahs - the first 17 days of freedom!

We hope you enjoy this video of CCF's Tracker James as he followed the four "girls" during their first 17 days of freedom at the Erindi Game Ranch. Please click here.


The CCF's cheetahs

We have a bit of bad update. As reported on Thursday, Cleo was nowhere to be found. We searched and finally found her...she was dead. We just finished the necropsy with Anna and Rosie. We think that it was a perforated abdomen from a sharp bone fragment.

Chewbaaka is very stiff and has reduced his food intake. And Cruise is not doing well either. We will take him in tomorrow to work him up.

Also last Friday the OK cubs all had stomach problems. We de-wormed on Saturday and had them fast most of the day were very active and playful in the afternoon. It turned out they had a bacteria and are much better now.

Sorry not to end the day with better news. But we will continue to look after these cheetahs that we all care about so very much.

Thanks everyone for all your good wishes.