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Saturday, 28 May 2011

Many of CCF's Wishes Granted

The CCF Clinic Team displaying some of the items donated by Mark C.
During the last couple of weeks we have been very excited opening packages sent in by supporters Mark C. from the UK and Anne H. from France. This is not the first time that Mark and Anne have created this flurry of excitement at CCF. They follow our online Wish List and often send us packages with items that are needed at CCF, especially for the Clinic and our Ecology team!

Anne's latest boxes included syringes, catheters, injectable solutions and antiseptics, binoculars, a portable weather station and darts, among other things. She has also sent us general office supplies, books and compasses.

Mark has been incredibly generous since his first visit to CCF last year, when he personally delivered radios, cameras and computing equipment, to name only a few. That was followed by a brand-new portable ultrasound machine! This time he sent us a microscope that will allow us easy and quick diagnoses of diseases and oestrus observation in our breeding dogs, and a camera we can use to send photos for collaboration with other vets and research organizations. There was also a microscope scale slide to help us with parasite identification, as well as faecal analyzers to run parasitological worka and studies. For the dogs, Mark sent several Elizabethan collars, which are costly in Namibia and do not function very well in the kraal. With the collars donated by Mark, dogs' wounds will heal much quicker. He even sent a portable stretcher we can use for dog and cheetah work ups in the field.

I personally believe that Mark's generosity is contagious. When he approached Thames Medical (UK) to purchase an urgently- needed pulse oximeter, Thames kindly threw in blood pressure equipment at no cost. All these items will make a world of difference when monitoring cheetahs under anaesthesia! And to top it all off, Mark also sent an HP laptop computer.

Also right before the annual cheetah work ups, Debra, from the Anasazi Animal Clinic in Arizona (USA) once again sent us much-needed vaccines, while Gertrude, a pharmacist in Germany, sent us once again an impressive array of clinic supplies.

We are so grateful to Mark, Anne, Debra, Gertrude, and so many other supporters that help us by donating items from our Wish List, which are either hard to get or too expensive in Namibia. These donors either have access to some of these items through their jobs, or approach companies and encourage them to donate, or simply purchase them for us. Some others make cash donations towards specific items on the Wish List.

The CCF's Wish List includes clinic and vet equipment, the Genetics Lab, ecological research, computing equipment, cheetah exercise equipment, and we always accept books. Currently we are in urgent need for GPS collars for cheetahs and tracking collars for our scat detection dogs. If you would like to help by either making a donation toward these items, or obtaining them for us, please click here to visit our Wish List.

With cheetah purrs, and our thanks,


Thursday, 26 May 2011

Three New Cubs at CCF

CCF received a call from a farmer near Otjiwarongo who said he had shot two cheetahs in his goat kraal while they were attacking his livestock. The cheetahs had killed two goats and two sheep in the attack; to protect his livelihood, the farmer shot the mother and one cub, with three other cubs escaping. Fortunately he knew about CCF and called us to ask if we would be interested in collecting the bodies.

(Note from Patricia - The cheetah is a protected species in Namibia, but people are allowed to remove cheetahs if they pose a threat to livestock or human life. CCF welcomes calls from farmers that have predator issues, as this gives us an opportunity to start a dialogue. Many of them have become allies in our efforts to conserve the wild cheetah once they learn about the many ways in which they can prevent conflict with predators.)

When the CCF arrived at the farm to collect the bodies, the farmer was asked if he would help with trying to trap the surviving cubs, whom he could hear chirping at night. As he did not have a cage trap, we brought one to the farm the next day.

One of the two female cubs captures near Otjiwarongo. (c) Cheetah Conservation Fund, 2011
It took several days before the three cubs were caught, with the farmer helping by moving the trap according to the direction from which he heard them calling around his farm. By the afternoon of the 17th of May he had all three and called us to fetch them. The medical workups were conducted the same evening – two females and one male; they were dehydrated and thin but otherwise fine. Their estimated age is 6-8 months old. After a thorough examination, the cubs were temporarily placed in a quarantine pen and later moved to an enclosure in Bellebenno.
The male cub. (c) Cheetah Conservation Fund, 2011
The dead female cheetah had a badly broken back leg (the bone was sticking through the skin) and had evidently been struggling to provide for her four cubs, hence becoming a problem animal. The dead cub was a male and was thin but otherwise in reasonable condition.

The CCF team gave the farmer education materials on cheetahs and livestock guarding dogs and a dog application form which he has already filled out and is now on CCF's waiting list. As with all farmers in similar situations, the farmer was encouraged to contact us upon future cheetah sightings before taking drastic actions.

Gail Potgieter

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Another Cheetah goes to the Dentist.

After her annual health exam in early April, the CCF clinic team noticed that 8-year-old Rosy's teeth would need some attention due to root exposure in three canine teeth.

On May 10 she was taken to Dr. Denis Progfit, the local dentist in Otjiwarongo, and received three root canals on both lower left and lower right canines, and the upper right canine. The procedure took just over 1 hour and she was stable throughout anesthesia.

Considering her age, Rosy is in good health and condition. She has been moved to an enclosure closer to the CCF Centre to allow the cheetah keeper easier monitoring of Rosy and her fellow pen-mates.

All of this medical attention to CCF's resident cheetahs would not be possible without the support of our cheetah sponsors. Thanks so much!

Rosie Glazier, DVN

Monday, 23 May 2011

Klein goes to the dentist.

Klein with Merlot (archive photo). (c) Patricia Tricorache
Last week we took Klein to the dentist. He had two root canals done on his upper molars. It was a long anaesthetic but the dentist did a good job considering Klein's teeth were not in very good condition. A positive point was that we were able to have another closer look at his herpes skin lesions on his legs. For the past month we have treated him with oral antiviral drugs and we were very pleased to see the positive results. His skin wounds look much, much better. So much so that we hardly had to do any cryotherapy during the dentist trip.

He has recovered well from the dentist, eating well and his skin wounds continue to look good.

We will continue to keep you posted with any new developments.

Anne Haw
Research Veterinarian

Sunday, 22 May 2011

A cheetah goes back home: the Wild.

This week we received a call from a game farm reporting that they had caught a large male cheetah in a trap cage. The farmer suspected that this was a lone cat (they had seen a lone cheetah recently), though she wanted to make sure there were no other cheetahs in a coalition with him and placed a second trap next to his to make sure. I requested that they shade the trapped animal’s cage and leave the second trap only for one night, as a coalition mate would be caught fairly quickly. The next morning, she called to say that there was no sign of another cheetah coming to his trap and asked if we could come and pick him up.

The farmer runs a cattle and game farm and their reason for trapping this cat was that he had become “resident” on their property and was causing game losses. They had not recently experienced any cattle losses, though two of their neighbours (cattle farmers) suspected that there was a cheetah disturbing their cattle and one lost a calf three weeks ago and suspected that a cheetah caught it.

The male is a large, healthy cat and farmers had actually witnessed a lone cheetah (presumably this one) chase a springbok towards some zebra, as the springbok ran through the zebra herd, the cheetah changed prey and caught a zebra foal. These zebra have been brought onto the game farm and from the conversation it seems that they are a new herd and the foal that was caught was among the first that they had born on their property. They further suspect that this male has caught a few springbok and hartebeest. They found his last hartebeest kill while it was still very fresh and they lured him into the trap cage using the carcass.

Area in which the cheetah was trapped – ideal cheetah habitat. (c) Cheetah Conservation Fund, 2011.
Cage trap with hartebeest kill after removing the cat. (c) Cheetah Conservation Fund, 2011.
Today, game farms are probably the greatest threats to cheetahs in Namibia. Indeed, more cheetahs are killed here than on livestock farms. These farms are stocked with wildlife, some of which are exotic and very vualuable, such as blesbok, black wildebeest and tsessebe. Thus, to keep these animals withing the property, farmers install almost impenetrable fences. Some cheetahs can and do find a way in and once inside, they might not be able to get out again and end up hunting valuable game.

Unfortunately, this cheetah had caught several valuable animals and did not seem to be moving through. I explained cheetah biology to the farmer, indicating that adult males will always look to establish a territory and this would likely be bigger than just this particular farm. Furthermore, by removing an individual male, it is likely that a coalition would move into the area in his place and potentially cause more losses.

She asked me what we do with the cats that we remove from farms and I explained that because he is not a problem animal with livestock, it was likely that we would release him either on our property or in another commercial farming area. I pointed out that cheetahs have a strong homing instinct and because we have several territorial males on our property, it is unlikely that he would stay there. He therefore has some chance of reaching their property again.

The farmer has been provided with our education materials and she seems very clued-up about cheetah biology and the problems facing the cheetah. Unfortunately she did not agree to let us release the cat again in the same area.
After a full health check up and determining that the cat was fit for release, we released him yesterday at CCF's big field, in the knowledge that with other males in the area he will most likely have to find a new territory or attempt to get back to his previous territory. We can only hope he will not get caught again. In the meantime, we continue to look for solutions as it regards to game farms.


Friday, 20 May 2011

The CCF Ecology Team reporting!

The wet season is just about over here at CCF. We have received over two times the season average rainfall and we are still having the occasional showers (complete with hailstones) despite the fact it is mid May! It is definitely starting to cool down, with temperatures down to 10 degrees Celsius (about 52 F) at night, so hopefully that is a sign that the rain is just about over and winter is on its way.

We have had a quite month with our last Earthwatch group leaving the start of April. However, things are starting to pick up as we come into our busy season. We have just welcomed a group of five new student interns and are getting ready for the next Earthwatch group in late May.

On the Ecology front, our Polytechnic student Gustaf has been going out recently to our big field and conducting transects to establish the extent of the invasive Bitterbush. Little is known about this bush, though it is believed to be unpalatable to herbivores and could be out competing grass species, thereby decreasing the grazing habitat for antelope on the big field.

Polytechnic student Gustaf and working guest Sue measuring Bitterbush along transect in CCF Big Field.
Rob and myself have recently attended a workshop on the use of Footprint Identification Technique (FIT). This is a technique that is being developed that can distinguish individuals from photographs of their footprints. FIT has already been successfully used in a number of species, including black rhino, tapirs and mountain lions. Learning about FIT was very interesting and this technique may have a lot of potential for use for CCF, not only with the cheetah, but also in monitoring our rhinos.

Bat eared fox
We have started off May’s game counts with a bang, our first field count seeing a leopard, aardwolf, bat eared foxes, eland and plenty of springbok with calves. Hopefully, this will mean the start of an exciting month of game viewing here at CCF!


Thursday, 19 May 2011

Finn encounters a black mamba!

Yesterday turned out to be quite an exciting field outing with Finn and Stephanie, a new student intern. We took Finn out to Bellebenno to search around a playtree that is frequently visited by a coalition of two male cheetahs. Forty minutes into the search, Finn indicated at cheetah scat located on a nearby road. After marking the location and collecting the scat, we continued. Later, as we were heading back towards the playtree through thick/tall grass, Finn brushed against a bush as he was searching. Out comes a black mamba! Finn was as surprised as I was as the snake slithered out of the bush and rose over a meter high. I called Finn, who responded immediately, and together we backed away from the snake. We all then safely headed back towards the road as the snake quickly went in the opposite direction. It was the first time I've encountered a snake while out with the scat detection dogs, and I'm glad that Finn responded perfectly.


Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Over 50 Kids Receive Environmental Education at CCF Camps

CCF hosted two five-day environmental education camps for kids at its Field Research and Education Centre during the holiday time in late April and early May. Both camps were made possible by the generous support of the First National Bank (FNB).
FNB representatives hand over donation check to CCF
The Otjiwarongo branch manager of FNB Namibia, Mr. Louw Durand, hands ovrer the Jubatus Kids Camp sponsorship check to CCF's General Manager, Dr. Bruce Brewer, in the presence of Mr. Marius Steenkamp (center), FNB's Regional Agricultural Manager of the North. (c) Cheetah Conservation Fund
Over 50 kids attending these camps learned about conservation-related topics such as the role of predators in the ecosystem, predator identification, raising and training livestock guarding dogs, cultivating leadership qualities, while also participating in team building activities, game drives and art projects.

“We at CCF believe very strongly in the importance of education about predators,” said Dr. Laurie Marker, founder and Executive Director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund. “Nearly every large predator is either threatened or endangered in Namibia and its surrounding areas. The loss of these great animals would be a tragedy for Namibia and the world and would have a severe impact ecologically, economically, and even culturally. The reasons for the decline in predators are numerous, but all relate back to a basic misunderstanding of these animals and the role they serve in the ecosystem. CCF works to counteract the reasons for the decline in predators, but without fighting the misunderstandings through environmental education at a young age, the possibility of success is minimal.”

“Being part of this camp and being able to see the excitement and wonder first hand on the faces of the children of seeing a cheetah for the first time in their lives and learning about the exciting world of birds makes you want to do it over and over again,” said CCF’s Environmental Education Officer Ignatius Davids. “I believe every child that comes through the doors of CCF goes back home with a sense of wonderment and love for nature and its animals, and with an attitude of being agents of change.”
Participants of CCF's Jubatus Kids Holiday Camp 1
Participants of the first CCF's Jubatus Kids Holiday Camp held in late April. (c) Cheetah Conservation Fund
Davids’ assessment was made evident by feedback received from parents after the camp: “Thank you very much for the nice, educational Jubatus Kids Holiday Camp which Manuela attended. She enjoyed it very much. Since she is at home she did not stop talking about the camp.“
Participants of CCF's Jubatus Kids Holiday Camp 2
Participants of the second CCF's Jubatus Kids Holiday Camp held in May. (c) Cheetah Conservation Fund

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Why are predators important?

Predators are an important part of a healthy ecosystem. Predators cull vulnerable prey, such as the old, injured, sick, or very young, leaving more food for the survival and prosperity of healthy prey animals. Also, by controlling the size of prey populations, predators help slow down the spread of disease. Predators will catch healthy prey when they can, but catching sick or injured animals helps in natural selection and the establishment of healthier prey populations as the fittest animals are left to survive and reproduce.

If carnivores were removed from an ecosystem, what would happen?

1. Antelope herds would grow and grow.
2. Only bad weather such as a drought, or disease such as rabies, would slow down the herd growth.
3. Large antelope herds would overgraze their food source, and as the food disappeared, the whole herd would begin to starve.

Cheetahs and other predators help limit the growth of prey populations and prevent overgrazing of ranges. While human hunters can sometimes replace predators in the control of antelope populations, they generally do not remove the injured, sick, or older animals. Predators play an important role in maintaining healthy prey
The cheetah is a valuable member of its community. In addition to its role as a predator, cheetahs feed other animals, such as vultures, jackals, beetles, and other scavengers. After a cheetah kills an animal it usually begins eating at the hind quarters, which provide the greatest amount of meat. Because the cheetah is not an aggressive carnivore, larger predators, as well as jackals and vultures, can scare the cheetah off its kill. By leaving the remains of a carcass, the cheetah feeds other animals in the ecosystem.

Many people fear predators, especially big cats such as the lion, cheetah, and leopard. We are often taught to fear carnivores without understanding their unique behaviours, special adaptations, and essential roles in the maintenance of healthy ecosystems.

Wouldn't a world without predators be something to fear even more?


Friday, 13 May 2011

CCGF Oregon reporting on the Run for the Cheetah

CCF Oregon's Teresa Delaney and Dave Bel;l
Thanks to your generous support we had one of the best Run for the Cheetah events in our history. Hundreds of runners sprinted through Washington Park and herds of children sporting faces painted as cheetahs dashed through the Zoo on a beautiful Sunday morning. All of this was done in support of the great work the Cheetah Conservation Fund is doing to help the cheetah in its race for survival.
Dr. Laurie Marker with some of the Run for the Cheetah champions.
Participation was great this year: 163 = 8K; 234 = 5K; and 142 = Kids Dash, for a total of 639 amazing runners and walkers.

Dr. Laurie Marker and CCF USA Trustee and 8K finisher, Eric Berman.
This fantastic event raised much needed funds for CCF and it could not have happened without your help. So, once again on behalf of all of us at CCF, thank you for all that you do for the cheetah. Together we can keep the cheetah in the wild for future generations. Your support is invaluable. Thanks also to this year's sponsors: Oregon Zoo, Java Jacket, American Industries, Speed's Towing, Pampling Media Group, Foot Traffic, Glaceau Vitamin Water, N W Naturel, Comcast, Kink FM and the Marriott Portland!

We hope to see you next year. In the meantime, check out our video below!

David Bell
CCF Oregon Chapter