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Thursday, 29 August 2013

The Musketeers and Saturn return to CCF

Some of our supporters might remember former CCF resident cheetahs, the Musketeers: Athos, Porthos and D’Artagnan, as well as Saturn (the brother of one of our females, Luna).

These males had come to CCF in 2005 at just under a year of age, and in 2008 were sent on-loan to a lodge near Windhoek, where they lived in a large area for the last five years. Saturn had been captured on a sheep farm with two siblings. He had a broken 4th neck vertebra and a broken front foot (two metatarsals).  These injuries were most likely sustained in the trap cage, possibly from the door closing on him, but with the proper care at CCF, Saturn recovered fully. The Musketeers were born in September 2004 and arrived at CCF when they were about eight months old. The cubs were caught on a game farm near Karibib, after their mother, one sibling, and two other adults were shot. They were named after the famous brave musketeers of legend.  

On 20 August 2013, a CCF team travelled to the lodge in order to pick up the four now adult males as the lodge owner could no longer keep them. The CCF team consisted of Dr. Laurie Marker, CCF veterinarians Drs. Hollis Stewart and Anne Schmidt-Kuentzel, and Head Cheetah Keeper Juliette Erdtsieck.  

One of the cheetahs being prepped for transport to CCF
The event was a great opportunity as the CCF team was joined by a French TV crew filming with Dr. Veronique Luddeni, CCF's collaborator from the French wolf organisation Parc ALPHA. The crew is highlighting the work done at CCF, in particular with regards  to the efforts done to foster peaceful cohabitation between predators and people.

French vet Dr. Veronique with Dr. Laurie Marker and Dr. Anne Schmidt-Kuentzel
Three of the cheetahs were caught easily as they walked into the capture cages and then boxed; the last one was darted and all four were taken back to CCF. As it is customary, the cheetahs were given a full health check up and were found to be in good health but underweight. They are now being nursed back to a healthy weight and are settling well as they enjoy the good care provided by our animal care team. 

Dr. Veronique with CCF Intern Julien Lehoux during the medical work-ups
Keep an eye on our web site as these beautiful males will soon be looking for sponsors! To meet CCF’s resident cheetahs and sponsor one (or several), please visit

(images courtesy of PallasTV)

Friday, 23 August 2013

Volunteer Story – Rachel Rowland

After coming to CCF last summer with Earth Expeditions for a graduate school class, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the organization and the wonderful staff! There are so many amazing projects taking place here everyday, from goat milk soap to Bushblok, and I have never seen a better example of true community-based conservation. CCF strives to involve local people in every aspect of their work and really share their passion for cheetahs with those in the area as well as around the world.

With such love in my heart for this place and a desire to help save the cheetah, I returned to CCF for 3 weeks this summer as a Working Guest. This time I got a better idea of what it really takes to keep a large non-profit afloat. There are dozens of people working hard day and night to help CCF and the cheetah succeed. I am so proud of each and every one of them for the immense effort they put in daily!

Even though it was my second trip here, there were many first experiences for me this time around. I milked a goat, crated and moved two cheetahs, was yelled at by a Kudu, hunted for glittery cheetah scat, got to feel like I was flying with vultures, threw donkey ribs over a fence, was attacked by cute baby goats, got to hear a ram with a baa that sounds like a burp, watched a giraffe drink for 20 minutes during a waterhole count, had to quickly devise a plan for counting the herd of 47 elands at another waterhole count, dabbled in giving tours to visitors at the center, and met new friends from all over the world.

Needless to say, I am a supporter of CCF and hope to be back again someday! There are tasks at the center that I still haven’t done, many things I could learn, and local species I have yet to see, so I have a feeling that my time in Namibia is not up quite yet! My last two birthdays were spent in Namibia, so maybe third time’s the charm…

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Be-spotted by the Cheetah

My name is Margaret Wilkie. I became besotted (or maybe be-spotted!) by the cheetah when I read a Smithsonian Magazine article about CCF in 2008. I decided then and there that I had to see them for myself sometime. And after five years, four reschedules, and two surgeries, I am finally here in Namibia for two months with my beloved cheetahs! Every morning when I wake up, I think I’m in Oz. In spite of being dry and dusty, this place is an artist’s/photographer’s dream---full of beautiful terrain, color, and action! I walk around drunk on the beauty here. Each day brings new friends to love, both animal and human. 

During my time so far, I have had the supreme pleasures of bottle feeding baby kids, searching for cheetah poo (CCF is very big into poo for scientific testing or training their scat detection dogs), being present during a cheetah’s annual medical checkup (I actually buried my face into an anesthetized Luna’s fur to see if she smelled like my pet cats at home---she didn’t. She smelled like dirt, and surprisingly, faintly of cardamom, a sweet spice.), walking on the wild side with Ryan feeding the 30+ wilder cheetahs that can perhaps be released someday, watching a cheetah run--- the cheetahs chase a red piece of cloth at 40 mph around a huge remote-controlled racetrack for exercise and entertainment (sometimes they rip the cloth right off the track and “kill” it, and they have to be bought off with a chunk of meat to give it up), and seeing the Milky Way galaxy every night on my way to bed. CCF work can be dusty, bloody, sticky, sweaty, smelly, milky, and exhausting, but I love it and take a big swan dive right into the middle of it each day. I love the people here---it’s as easy to make friends as it was back in first grade! 

I am so thankful to Dr. Marker for envisioning and bringing to life this incredible crucible for the cheetah’s survival. Here, the cheetah comes first, as it must. Before I left for Namibia, I told everyone that I was going to be working with the cheetahs for the summer. I realize now that the correct phrase is working FOR the cheetahs, for everything here, and everything we do, is for them and their ultimate benefit. Long after I return home, I will always be thankful for what Dr. Laurie and the cheetahs taught me this magical summer.