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Monday, 27 January 2014

Meet Lucky!

We would like you to meet Lucky! This sweet well-maintained boy was a working dog on a resettled farm where he loved watching over his goats and sheep. Unfortunately, when his herder, livestock, and him were crossing a road, he was hit by a truck. This was not due to negligence of the herder but was just an accident, and thankfully the herder got him to the veterinarian as soon as possible. He sustained quite a few severe injuries and was taken to a veterinarian clinic in Otjwarongo and then transferred to a clinic in Windhoek. In Windhoek he had to receive surgery to have his femoral head removed on his left side. Both his front and back right legs were broken in the accident, so those were splinted as well.

Despite these injuries, Lucky has been a real trooper and has been walking better than we expected. He is very patient with all his bandage changes, which must be changed daily. The clinic team and numerous volunteers/interns are always happy to give Lucky a short walk to help him gain some muscle strength back in his legs and so he can relieve himself. You can normally find him out in the office relaxing on his mattress pad with volunteers, staff, and interns working close by. He has been receiving a lot of tender love and care while he recovers and due to his young age (7-8 months) he is very resilient.

Lucky’s recovery will take many months, but here at CCF we have high hopes for him, and will of course keep you updated on his progress. If you would like to support Lucky and help him receive the care he needs, please consider donating to CCF to help cover the costs of his recovery.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Intern Story - Mariska Bijsterbosch

Hi, my name is Mariska Bijsterbosch. at the beginning of September I came to the Cheetah Conservation Fund to do an internship as part of my study Wildlife Management, which I study in the Netherlands. It seemed quite scary at the beginning, so far and long from home, but I quickly felt really welcome and at home.

Since I have been here I have done so many different activities, too much to mention them all. I took care of cheetahs, dogs, horses and goats, did administrative tasks and went out to count game. I even made cheese and soap, something that I never would have expected! I also had a special project, which was a hair analysis project. In cheetah scat you can find hair, and when you examine these hairs under the microscope, you can find out what species the cheetah has been eating. Most hairs from different species have a unique pattern. However it is sometimes very difficult to distinguish this pattern, and here is where my project came in. Instead of the hair pattern, I looked at cross sections of the hairs, and tried to find out if this is an easier way of determining species. It turned out that for some species cross sections are indeed a better method to use.


The highlight of my stay at CCF was the capture and release of cheetahs into the wild. During my time here five cheetahs were released, which is the reason why CCF exists, to keep cheetahs in the wild! I also helped with tracking the cheetahs, who wore GPS/VHF collars. In the field, we start with the GPS point and from there you try to track them with radio telemetry. Sadly we did not find one that day, but nevertheless it was a great experience!


My internship is almost over and after these five months it will be very strange to go back to the ‘normal’ life. I have learned many things at CCF, and made many new friends. One thing is for sure, although my time is almost running out here, I will come back!

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Minja, Emma, and Jacominja Release: Part 1

When the Leopard Pen Gate opened on Monday 23rd December, Minja, Jacominja and Emma were about to face life on their own, in the wild. Each of them had been fitted with a GPS tracking collar which regularly takes a new GPS location and transmits the new data back to us early each day. Each collar also has a VHF transmitter allowing us to track and find them on foot too. There was a huge amount of work that went on in the build up to this event and there is still much more to do. This is their story so far, and we will continue to keep you posted with their progress in the future.


Minja left the pen at the first available opportunity using the nearby road to explore the area and unfortunately we didn’t receive an update from her collar until the 27 December 2013. On the 29 December we spent the entire day looking for her and still had no good sightings. From the data sent to us from the GPS collar, we learned that on 30 December she moved from CCF land onto a neighbouring farm briefly and then back onto CCF land. We finally got the first proper sighting of her on 4 January 2014 on CCF land. On 5 January we found her again and fed her a large meal because we hadn’t yet had any confirmation that she had made a kill, however she did not look thin! Overall Minja seems to be doing well and is definitely independent, but we will continue to monitor her closely to ensure her well-being.


After the gates opened, Emma decided to stick around for a few days until she finally decided to leave the pen on 26 January 2013. From Leopard Pen she moved to an area relatively close by and we were able to find and feed her on 28 January. However, we spent the whole of New Year’s Eve looking for her and unfortunately were unsuccessful. According to the GPS data from her collar, she moved onto the neighbouring farm on 1 January 2014 and stayed until 2 January. On 3 January, Emma found us. We were about to drive through a gate, and she suddenly appeared behind the vehicle. It’s likely that she heard the feeding vehicle and had been following us for some time. We took the opportunity to move her back into Bellebeno, our re-wildling game camp to an artificial waterhole where we also fed her. She had to follow the car for about 2km so she earned her food for the day. The next day, we found her nearby where we left her as she had made her first confirmed kill! As soon as we approached, she picked up the kill and carried it off but we are quite sure it was a steenbok. On 6 January we found her yet again on another kill, which was also a steenbok. We are very happy with Emma’s success in this release, as she has already made two confirmed kills. We will continue to monitor her closely, but have high hopes for her future in the wild.

Emma on her first steenbok kill
Emma on 6 January 2014, photo by Patrick Viehoever
Emma on her steenbok kill on 6 January 2014, photo by Patrick Viehoever


Like Emma, Jacominja decided to hang around in the enclosure for a few days before venturing out. On 26 December 2013, however, she left and moved to one of CCF’s other farms. Incredibly, on 28 December 2013, we found her on her first (known) kill, which was an adult male duiker. For having been out of the enclosure less than 48 hours, it’s impressive that Jacominja had already made a kill. On 30 December we found Jacominja again and decided to go ahead and feed her in case she was struggling to make a kill. We are teaching all our interns how to radio-track and on 1 January, one of our Dutch interns, Marianne, tracked Jacominja and found her. We decided to feed her again, just in case. A couple of days later, we found her on other kill, which was a young warthog and then again on 4 January, we found she had killed a steenbok. On 6 January she moved but we found her and again fed her. Jacominja is clearly doing well on her own in the wild with three confirmed kills, but like the others, we will continue to monitor her closely just to ensure she is coping well with her new life in the wild.

Jacominja on 1 January 2014
feeding Jacominja on 6 January 2014
Marianne tracking

Monday, 6 January 2014

Intern Story - Ben Spearing

I have now spent ten weeks in Namibia at the Cheetah Conservation Fund, and I look back on my time and wonder how I was able to experience as much as I did in the short time I was here. The list of jobs and activities I have taken part in during my time here is much too long to list. The variety of work I have done ranges from scanning files into a database, to giving a cheetah eye drops. To be fair, much of the work that an intern does includes administrative tasks and cleaning the animal pens, but the activities that one could only do here at CCF make it all worth it. Being a part of releasing two cheetahs into the wild, performing a necropsy, counting herds of antelope on game drives, and observing cheetah surgeries are occurrences that can only be experienced at CCF. The Cheetah Conservation Fund does anything and everything it can to help the cheetah, and it takes hard work and passion from a lot of people to get the job done.

watching the dentist work on one of the cheetahs 
three oryx visiting a waterhole during a 12-hour waterhole count
This organization is something special. The staff members at CCF care deeply for the animals here and conservation as a whole. Saving the cheetah is not an easy job, and it does not have set hours. They sacrifice the time that they have off of work to come in and help whenever it is needed. It was truly motivating to see people from all over the world come together in Namibia to help save the cheetah as a species, and their dedication has reminded me why I pursue an education in conservation biology. This internship has only reinforced my career goals, and with the experience and work ethic I have gained here I hope I can move on to make a difference in the world of conservation.

giving the "centre feeding talk" to visitors