Archive for Misc topics

Taco Treats, Angry Acacias And Cheetah Care

My Friday was a clone of Thursday, only that the latter was Taco Day – we got yummy tacos for lunch. I loved them last year and they were not less tasty this year. We even had guacamole (that didn’t actually taste like guacamole, but was tasty on the tacos nevertheless)!

Thursday and Friday were, as mentioned, clones of each other. The first half of these days I was at the office, entering picture data from camera traps, then the other half I’d spend outside the CCF’s offices, measuring Acacia mellifera, Acacia fleckii and other angry trees and bushes that try to shred you to pieces if you ever get to close to them. Learning from my Thursday experience, I brought a long-sleeved British Army shirt in order to avoid cuts on Friday, only to find out the area we were measuring plants in was much less crowded with angry plants than the day before. Still, better to not take any chances with the vegetation out here.

Most, if not all, EarthWatch volunteers went on a trip to Etosha today. This means that everything is less crowded, and since it’s Saturday there’s also less to do, so it doesn’t really matter. While I was the only volunteer to stay behind last year, this time it’s a lot more people not leaving the CCF’s premises, which makes life a little easier.

Today started with some excitement since one of the cats in the girl’s pen had gone missing. Not surprisingly it was Leia, who happens to be sick. She did, however, turn up later, and our keepers were very reliefed to know she’s still alive.

We then went feeding, and after finishing a quick roundtrip to most of CCF’s cats, speedily (cheetah-style!) feeding them and replacing their water, we went to Bellebenno where a Safari was supposed to take place, but… didn’t. Thus, we simply fed the cats, or rather Rob did since Markus and I were busy shooting photos and/or videos of running spottykitties.

Since the afternoon’s quite calm on Saturdays, all I’m doing now is sighting those pictures and videos. After all, I’ve only got three more weeks left here. Half time already…

…and please forgive my use of alliterations in the title – it was just too tempting to resist.

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Nevermind – I’ve got a sunburn now

I probably shouldn’t have asked for it, but today’s fence maintenance has taken its toll on my neck – I’ve got a sunburn now. It’s only a very slight one, but it definitely shows you shouldn’t underestimate the sun here. Luckily, my face was painted white with sunscreen, so the few spots I didn’t reach are the only ones that are a bit sore right now. Sucks being European – and always use your sunscreen! 🙂

The morning started with Cheetah Tracking, but alas, we didn’t get to see or even radio-track any. They were simply too far away and the single hour of time they assign to this task isn’t barely enough to cover an extended search.

As for fence maintenance, we did some today, but nothing quite went as planned. The trip was supposed to take all day long and we weren’t plannin to be back before dinner, but something went wrong – first, we had no car to go in and take our stuff, so we only brought the tools, but not the fence posts for replacing. So John told some of the workers to come with the fence posts, but as we were working, they didn’t appear. So after about two hours of removing broken posts we decided to take a break. We had prepared hard-boiled eggs, some sandwiches as well as tomatos and tuna with corn. All in all a worthy replacement for the fish they got here at the Hot Spot.

When after more than two more hours nobody had appeared to help us, we decided to go back – it was really hot, we couldn’t really do anything than cutting the old posts out and not even replace them, so John decided to drive back. On the way back to the CCF’s headquarters we met the workers that were supposed to show up five hours prior… but they had the wrong kind of posts with them.

All in all a chaotic day, but that’s that left me some time to think more about the video project. I’ll have to start on the interviews fairly soon, but the schedule really doesn’t leave me too much time for things like that. Even worse, most of the people I want to interview are often enough busy somewhere else. I’ll talk to Nick about this, maybe he can give me some opportunities if I tell him who I’d like to interview.

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Dust equals tan

My skin looks like I’ve been born here. Well, maybe not entirely so, but it’s certainly become a lot darker today… but this isn’t the sun’s fault, it’s dust.

The pen we cleared of virtually any vegetation besides trees yesterday got filled with sand today so that the cats that walk in there leave nice pawprints. We got the sand from the side of a road a little outside the CCF’s education center, and it certainly wasn’t easy work with all of the dust coming at you from all directions while shoveling. I was lucky to have another task that overlapped with this one, but as a result the poor others had to work even more. They did a marvelous job, though.

Markus and I “needed to” go on safari inside the girl’s (Elands) pen and join two professional photographers in order to get some video footage (I love my camera) and pictures of the girls. Especially the lovely Sandy helped us with that, posing for a long time. But the other kitties did a nice job as well, especially when they decided to roll over, yawn, or even groom each other. Absolutely fabulous. Even Amani behaved well today.

I hope I can start editing the footage tomorrow – all I need now are interviews of different people. I’ll try to snag some tomorrow… after I had a nice shower followed by long sleep to get rid of that dust…

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Blisters, sun and cheetahs

Today I traded the Goat Kraal duty with Adeline, who seems to be allergic to the goats and/or sheep and/or dust here, so that she could do scanning instead and stay inside. Even though I didn’t finish until 9:40, I still wasn’t too late for the feeding, so everything was fine.

Our feeding run ended after we had supplied Leia (who has not really been eating enough the past few days due to her kidney problems) as well as Bella and Padme two of us stayed behind to get rid of grass and the hay-like dried grass on the ground for a paw-print study the CCF is conducting. Markus and I were both assigned to clean the car. Since we only had an underpowered vacuum cleaner as well as a pot full of water, washing liquid and an old CCF T-Shirt as a rag, this looked kind of improvised, but the car looks a lot better now. Well, it did when we washed it, but by tomorrow you probably won’t notice any difference anymore.

When people left for Bellebenno Damon and I were dropped off at the pen the others had been clearing earlier, and I got two nice blisters (one fully developed by now). Too bad I didn’t take any gloves with me, but then again I’m thinking they wouldn’t have changed too much. Anyway, I emptied a two-litre bottle and needed quite a few breaks, otherwise I might’ve fainted. The sun was really burning down and some of the roots were really stubborn. Plastic rakes are not worth any money at all, they bend and break too easily – just for the record.

I just helped Lily get rid of a supposedly virus-infected file (the Google Toolbar) from her computer, but I think it was just a false alarm due to an error in her virus definition files. But with so many computers, laptops and volunteers with flash drives around here you can never be too careful.

I’m now converting the first video files so I can finally start editing together what I already have.

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Arrived in Windhoek!

Hello world!

After a long and rather comfortable flight (due to the plane being basically only half-full) Markus and I have touched down in Windhoek. We’re now (at this very moment) waiting for other volunteers to arrive. We’ve now met Christina Martin, but are still waiting for two others before our CCF contact arrives.

Markus bought a 120 minute card for the wireless connection, so I will stay online for another 60 minutes or so (or until my battery runs empty). Markus said he would be trying to update his blog as well, so keep on the watch for news!

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