Archive for Cheetah

Respect to the man in the ice cream van

Nevermind the title – I’m not creative enough to have a witty title every time I write a new entry, so there, a nifty inside joke between me, some others, and Matt, our cheetah feeder. No, he doesn’t feed them ice cream 😉

So today was my last day here at CCF – and that’s why I had a presentation of the small video I and Markus made yesterday. Everybody seemed very happy although the video was only three and a half minutes long, so I consider that a success. You’ll see it on YouTube soon, I guess. I even got in two more interviews this evening, so I may even be able to get two more videos instead of just one done. Yay! I’ll keep this blog updated and will let you know once the videos get published.

The last two days were almost too perfect to be true – we did finish just about everything we had wanted, and knowing that people will miss you doesn’t make leaving any easier. We even got to do a short meeting with Chewbaaka, but he was a bit too lazy today to care about two crazy Germans. Pity, but he’s a cat after all, so he’s got a mind of his own. We saw Giraffe. We had Tacos for dinner and yesterday it was Pizza Day. We had lots of fun, got to say a few words in order to say goodbye to everyone and just as yesterday I was able to go feeding, say goodbye to  Bella, Padme, Klein, Josie, Merlot, Cruise, Obe-Wan, Omdillo, Anakin, Chester, Rosy, Misty, Emma, Jacomina, Minja, Solo, Kiana, Kayla, Luna, Tempesta, Xena (and what a goodbye it was!), Toblerone, Nestlé, Hershey, Nina, Cleo, Chanel, Darwin, Mendel, Fossie and Livingston. Tomorrow in  the morning – before I leave – I’ll try to say goodbye to the other cheetahs at the center – Leia, Sandy, Dusty, Blondi, Amani, Samantha, Shadow as well as Harry, Hermione, Ron, N’dungu, Shunga and of course to Chewbaaka and Little C. I may not get a chance to say goodbye to the cubs, but saying goodbye to Soraya, Phoenix, Quasar, Phil, Tony, Mischief and Polly would have been even more heart-breaking than bidding farewell to the other spottycats. Oh, and by now I really can identify almost all of the cats (except the itsy-bitsies, but I haven’t seen them a lot anyway).

I’ll definitely miss CCF (again), and I’ll of course try to come back here once more. Let’s hope it works out. In any case I have a lot of work to take with me, but also wonderful memories, and again I learned a lot. I’ll be bringing home more than 52 gigabytes worth of pictures (about 2300 made by myself, the rest by Markus) and way more than 2 hours of video material in Full HD. Sorting out this huge amount of stuff will be hard, but ever so worth it.

So it’s time to say goodbye to CCF, but again, I’ll never forget what an awesome time I’ve spent here. I’ll always remember this place and in case I don’t come back I still won’t stop thinking about it – it’s just too nice an experience not to have. So thank you, staff and volunteers alike, for the time I’ve been able to spend with you. And I also wish you the best of luck and success for your future endeavours. With people like you, we can indeed save the cheetah! 🙂


Running cubs…

Our day started a litte earlier than usual – after all, we all were invited for a cheetah run with the cubs. This meant that we had to get up earlier and start working earlier as well, but it was completely worth it.

I helped Jourdan and James collect scat samples of the girls in the Elands pen, and once we were done waited for a little longer before we were finally told to go down to the house. Entering the small one’s pen was a first for me, but the run took place where last year I got to pet Little C. Upon our arrival the three about 14 month-old cubs Soraya (the female), Phoenix and Quasar were already waiting for us to start. And not only waiting, there was a constant purr coming from the trio. 😀

They didn’t only seem eager to run, they also were – the three of them darted after the lure quite persistently and seemed a lot more energetic than the four boys in the adjacent pen. The run took quite some time, and they all were rather playful and nice. After the run we were allowed to follow them around a bit as they were exploring the trees in the pen and playing as well as resting.


After that, I began my duty – I had finally been assigned to meat cutting which also involves raking the pens. However, I got to do the Soraya, Quasar and Phoenix’ pen, which turned out to be quite a bit of work, keeping me busy for a good two hours and a half. When I finally finished cleaning it (they had some nasty hay and other stuff in there), I started cutting the cub’s meat, but as I was so slow Bruce had to help me do it or I wouldn’t have made it to dinner in time at all. I hope that didn’t give him a bad impression of me. :/

In the evening Markus, Rhianna and I first visited Nick which resulted in a lot of talking, sharing of experiences and laughs, then watched several episodes of Family Guy followed by Event Horizon (which she didn’t know!), concluding the day. What a nice way of doing it! 🙂


Finished the cub’s pen extension

So today we finally did it – after working some more on the pen in the afternoons on Tuesday as well as today, after lots of digging, placing stones, raking and shoveling sand, weaving acacia branches into the wire fence and removing the one that separated the two enclosures. The cubs were subsequently let out… but didn’t show any interest in the extended area. I so expected this to happen. However, this doesn’t mean that all of our work was for nothing – later that evening Bruce approached us and told us they had finally gone exploring the extension, and that they were happy. So we were happy, too. 😀


Tuesday started with another Cheetah Run I attended. The others sure hate me for this, but after all, I’m doing it for a good cause. The videos I shoot (I hardly make any pictures) I all need for that little video project. We finished the first part on Sunday (for which I got called a workaholic), and while we’re still waiting for a first “public” screening among staff and volunteers, I’m sure they’ll like it. Even I am fairly happy with it, despite being a perfectionist 😉

We then helped at the goat kraal, and after that interviewed Rhianna, an aspiring vet student. It was the longest and – so far – funniest interview we did so far, with lots and lots of outtakes. We did, however, get nice material, too, so it wasn’t just for fun, mind you!

Today started similarly – another Cheetah Run, but this time without people. They simply were too late, not arriving until about 8:50. By that time the cheetahs are not run anymore because the growing heat forces them to rest longer, resulting in a significantly shorter run or, even worse, no run at all. Instead of disassembling our equipment and bringing everything back to the clinic Matt and Kate gave them a little run, but it wasn’t nearly as nice as it usually is, partly because it was very short and because Little C looked at us and walked away instead of chasing the lure. What a lazy cheetah… 😉

We then went to feed our cats, which resulted in even more video material. I’m running low on storage here, my four 16 GB SD cards are full to the brim. I’m glad I brought my laptop so I am able to copy things to it. Too bad I’m running out of space there, too… but then again, I’ve got only one week to go, which makes me sad.

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Sand for the masses!

Or rather masses of sand we had to move this afternoon. Now that the cub’s pen has been modified in order to allow rain to drain more easily, we are expanding it. The area that has been chosen for this has already been cleared of all the annoying plants the cubs probably wouldn’t like, so the sand we brought in was used to fill holes and make it easier for water to drain in there as well. This time the cubs could even watch us while in their pen, but they were careful and while nosy kept in the far corner while observing us.

We still have to put up a new fence, but it’s already waiting  there for us. We’re probably going to finish tomorrow, but we might take a little longer depending on how work will go. I’ve never put up a fence, so that’s going to be something new for me.

Other than shoveling, raking and looking at prospective new enclosures, I was busy… raking – me and Rhianna cleaned the cheetah’s center pens (the ones you’d be shown first when coming here) so they look nice and pretty again. Oh, and I was busy doing CD data entry afterwards, which means I had to look at 2007’s camera trap data and find out whether there were animals on the pictures, and if, how many and what kind of. Considering about 40% of the pictures were empty with only the grass in the background moving (and probably setting off the cameras), this is a rather menial task, but occasionally you stumble upon funny moments, such as people in mid-air making you think they just fell off a truck, only to realize they’re just climbing over a fence…

Tomorrow we’ll be interviewing Rhianna, and I will also work on getting more video material before I leave. After that it’s goat kraal again…



A slow start into the day

My first duty today was to assist during a scat walk around our cheetah pens. We didn’t find anything today unlike on the last time I helped when we found two pieces of scat, one probably coming from a cheetah, the other one likely from a hyena. Unfortunately, though, our GPS device ran out of battery so we couldn’t write down where the scat was found. Of course, this time we didn’t even need it.

Poop coming from cheetahs is likely to have been placed there by two cheetahs simply called the “Wild Boys”. They are quite interested in the Elands pen, which is full of females (of which at least one is in heat at almost any given time). We do these scat walks because we know there are other carnivores around. We are, of course, especially interested in cheetahs, meaning we are especially happy whenever we find cheetah scat. The poop is then analyzed – we extract, for example, Cortisol that we think might be involved with the pathogenesis of gastritis, but also extract hair from the scat and try to determine the prey species of the cheetahs around here.

The scat collecting was followed by CD data entry, and not only the morning, but also in the evening. Since we are now done with this year’s camera trap data entry, we are now doing the 2007 pictures since the CCF only catalogued the cheetah pictures so far. This means we’re going to be identifying oryx, kudu, eland, porcupines etc. for a little longer. 😉

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