Archive for September, 2009

A disappeared laptop

When we went by the office on our way to the goat kraal, we noticed that Markus’ laptop including his power cord, but not the mouse I lent to him, had disappeared. We usually left our stuff in the office overnight since during the day we’re going to use them anyway. But today, his laptop was missing and it has yet to resurface. He had placed a large CCF sticker on the back of the lid, so this lead us to the assumption that someone might have mistaken it for an official CCF laptop, but since asking around for anyone that might have taken it yielded no results, we don’t really think it’s the case.

Of course, camera trapping this day wasn’t as relaxing as it usually is. Again, we needed to help with the cub’s pen today, and continued bringing sand into the enclosure. Only one more afternoon spent on it and we’re done 🙂

However, we’re still a bit worried about the sudden vanishing of his laptop. It’s definitely sad, but also a bad thing not only because of its worth, but mostly because it contains valuable and important data such as many blog posts he didn’t even get to upload. I now take my laptop with me every night and feel uncomfortable leaving it here while I’m gone. I hope the thief gets caught eventually.


A slightly different start into the day…

Usually, my day begins with either a scat walk, sometimes with tracking and usually with cleaning the goat kraal. Today, everything was a bit different. Since there are some experiments involving scat planned, we had to get rid of as much poop in the Elands pen as we were able to. This was not particularly fun, but it’s always somewhat exciting to be able to work with the cats so close by to you, and even if they don’t actually do anything than look at you or pace around, it’s still nice to know you’re not alone.

This was followed by feeding the cats, but we were not able to go by the usual routine since today there was a safari in the Bellebenno pen, forcing us to feed the other cats closer to the CCF’s headquarters first. This isn’t a problem at all, since all the cheetahs react to is the car arriving since it usually means there’s going to be food, regardless of when it’s coming. Again, we were able to take some nice pictures of the cats, but we still need a few more if we want to do the ID photos of all sponsored cats properly.

Markus and I then spent the afternoon modifying the cub’s pen – any rain would only drain very slowly from their pen, leaving puddles and not too many dry spots for them to lie on, so we had the task of creating a small river bed and filling the sides with sand so the water will (hopefully) make its way into the river bed, leaving the other areas dry (or at least not completely drenched). Of course carrying around all the stones and sand wasn’t easy, but it was definitely worth it, and quite fun because the little ones were watching us while we were busy working. We brought a lot of scents into the pen via the sand, and the cubs were very curious, sniffing and digging at the sand when they were let back into their pen.



African-Japanese Sushi party!

EarthWatch left yesterday. The party we had today was of course not to celebrate this – Nick simply came up with the idea of cooking Japanese food today. All we had to agree on was helping to pay for the ingredients. Never having tried Sushi myself, I agreed, since I swore to myself never to eat it where I don’t know whether it’s fresh. I think that means I trust Nick a lot 😉

It was quite tasty, actually, especially considering it was only raw fish. It also was totally different from what I had expected, but still good. I may just try it again some other time, I’m not really sure if I really like it enough to enjoy it more often, though.

Friday was a pretty uneventful day – all I did was cut some more video footage, and I finally settled for background music (I think). After lunch we cleaned one more area of the center pen, but this was done fairly quickly, much to our relief. Scoffling isn’t everyone’s favourite activity. In the evening we did a game count, but it turned out to be pretty useless. Since it started raining on a more regular basis now, the game seems to have wandered off. All we got to see were a few oryx, hares and owls. One of the latter even had a mouse with it. Yet, it was absolutely uneventful… but fun, since we kept looking for tree rhinos and snow leopards (warning, insider joke). 😀

Saturday was not particularly interesting either, nor was today. We got to feed the center pen cheetahs, however, which was a nice change of pace during that otherwise lazy day. Not that I don’t appreciate lazy days here – after all, the hard work takes its toll on me. At least it’s very rewarding.

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Twelve hours on stilts

I sat around today. Literally all day long – our task today was to perform a 12 hour-long waterhole gamecount at Bellebenno. So we got up at 4 (okay, I admit it – we got up at 4:30 or something…), prepared some sandwiches, a little bacon for lunch and packed our hard-boiled eggs, then off we went at 5:25 (we had planned to leave at 5:15, but this… is Africa).

Markus and I arrived at our waterhole at 6:02 – and climbed our treetop hide. About 8 metres high, this hide is something for the adventurous. I myself have been up there last year already, but coming back to the same spot again was a nice touch. The hide is about one by one metres, and barely 1.80m high. Standing is therefore not recommended, but you’ll have to try every once in a while since there are only wooden bars in place of seats, so sitting requires a lot of body fat or plenty of pillows. Since we don’t have enough of the former, we decided to bring a blanket and pillows. Turned out to be a good choice since the morning was cold and quite wet; however, it didn’t rain as much as we were afraid it would.

Then the waiting began – waiting for animals, and whenever we saw one (or a group), we’d take notes of how many, what species, when they arrived and when they left. We also tried to determine the animal’s genders, and while that might be easy from up close, sitting up there at quite some distance from the hole doesn’t make things easy. We filled two pages during our observation period which seems to be a good average. We saw lots of oryx, eland, warthogs, a few jackals and, shortly before leaving, two giraffe. Not to mention the huge flocks of Guinea Fowls.

When we got back just in time for dinner, it started raining and thundering heavily. Still, it was a good feeling being “home” after such a long time in the field. Too bad we didn’t get to see cheetahs 😉

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Goat blood, rain and interviews

Cleaning the goat kraal this morning proved to be a little more deviating from the usual procedure than you’d expect. We weren’t many people in there and two with back problems that couldn’t help us with the wheelbarrow or shoveling, so that part had to be done by Markus and me. Exhausting, I tell you. Then it started raining… just a bit, and not for too long, but the weather reflected a bit how we felt.

Then we got to pierce goat ears – some of them needed (new) tags in their ears, so we clipped a small slit in there and stuck the tag though. Only that the goats – admittedly, not surprisingly – didn’t like. It might have been the pain (that seemed to subside quite quickly and/or the panic our holding the animals caused, but in any case they put up quite a fight. When we did the last goat, she refused quite heavily, and tried to come free – in vain. But due to her struggling, the first pierce didn’t go through and a second hole had to be made, which ended up hurting a vein in the ear. This led to her ear dripping blood like mad, and her struggling made it spray all over my pants and shirt. I looked as if I had slaughtered a goat when Ia returned to the office.

I then discovered discrepancies with the camera trap picture data we entered while sorting pictures for cheetahs, leopards, brown hyenas and jackals. It seems as if the people at the photo lab burned one DVD twice, which led to us examining the same pictures twice. Quite a pity, especially considering how much time you spend on identifying animals, time and date on the pictures… Also, one of the main computers turned out to be infected by a virus that infected all USB and other storage media you attached to it. Should be clean now since we installed an anti-virus product on it.

Following that we eventually got around to doing our interviews – Beatrix and Julie were kind enough to provide us with their opinions and insights concerning CCF. This is getting interesting! I hope I’ll be able to make these series look good…

Little C on his hut

Little C climbed the newly-renovated hut in his pen again. Quite cute, I haven’t seen him on top of it like that before. 🙂


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