Archive for September, 2009

Cloudy with a chance of rain

This was an exhausting day. It started with a goat kraal cleanup, only to be followed by hino tracking… however, it turned into acacia wrecking once more. After lunch, I had to help clean the Hogwarts pen near the clinic.

Cleaning meant, in this case, weeding around three of the cheetah’s favourite trees. This might sound easy, but once you get to know African vegetation, you’ll know why it wasn’t: the grass has extremely strong roots and is therefore hard to get out, the trees here have thorns, other vegetations makes it hard to rake stuff you removed out of the way and it’s hot as well.

I did, however, survive! Just remember to drink enough, as dehydration can ocurr quickly when working hard in the sun. Thankfully the clouds were on our side, covering the sun for most of the time we were busy weeding. However, we also heard thunder coming from the Waterberg plateau. It’s quite early for rain here, so we were naturally surprised (especially since I’m not really prepared for rain). It did not rain, though – yet. It’s quite possible that soon it’s going to rain, but I’m hoping only when I’m not outside… 😀


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.



Why don’t I have a sunburn yet?

This is the question I’m asking myself now for more than two weeks – I usually get a sunburn very quickly, even tho I usually only walk around (and not much) in Germany and I don’t really sunbaths either. Yesterday I experimented and decided not to put on any sunscreen at all, but I still didn’t even get reddish. Guess the sun’s not being so bad after all.
We worked more in the Eland’s (that’s the girl’s) pen , more specifically on scuffling around the fences in order to reduce the risk of fires damaging the fences. The last few days have been extremely cloudy, with winds and humidity indicating the rainy season’s about to start already – much too soon, considering the season won’t probably last longer than it usually does, possibly leading to severe problems once it’s over and no more rain falls to replenish the ground water here (which is only 1 % of all rain anyway).
It was really hot, with the sun burning down on us while we were working hard – not the best way to motivate you for work. Sandy watched us while we made our way towards her favourite lazing corner and actually stayed there when we arrived, observing us curiously before walking one tree further and flopping down in its shade. Awesome. I wish I could’ve joined her. Fortunately, the clouds finally covered the sun and it got easier to work.
We worked until 17:05 when Matt finally picked us up. Took quite a while, since he was also feeding the cats in the pen (it was Head Day) and because they had to look for Leia first before picking us up. She doesn’t seem to be getting better, but we can still hope. Poor cat.

Adeline is leaving us tomorrow and desperately trying to check into her flight from here. The Internet connection’s not really stable today, so I hope this actually gets gets when I press Publish posted…

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Supporting the CCF

CCF relies on people’s support. You can help by either by sponsoring a cheetah, donating online, by visiting CCF’s Education Centre here in Namibia or by simply spreading the word.

Yesterday, a pair of British citizens, the Robinsons, dropped by the CCF grounds and James Robinson asked us for help. He’s currently researching the cheetah’s evolution and in particular how doglike they’ve become. Now, I’m not entirely familiar with canine anatomy, but apparently they swallow in a different way than cats do. In order to help him with his research, we shot several hundred pictures and recorded a lot of video footage of our boys eating. He also got to meet the cubs and even touch one’s throat as it was swallowing, allowing him to determine their way of swallowing apparently has nothing to do with dogs. He was obviously thankful for our help and the DVD we burnt for him containing the footage we obtained as they donated quite a nice sum to the CCF. Thank you, James and Diana!

Apart from the usual Goat Kraal experience, nothing of interest happened yesterday. I chose to nap a bit in the afternoon, and then was sufficiently prepared for the movie night we had coming up. We watched Get Shorty as well as Transformers. I don’t know how often I had to mention it, but apparently people still don’t know what a Michael Bay movie’s made of – explosions, or rather Baysplosions…

I’ve not been lazy today despite our schedule leaving most of the day free. I got up in order to go to work on the Goat Kraal where the goats had to be fed. On the way there I was however greeted by Sonja who had already done that job. Since my daily task had thus been fullfilled, I chose to proceed to the office and do some more video editing. Once I get the interviews started (which will hopefully be tomorrow), I’ll probably be able to finish one to three episodes, depending on how yielding the interviews will be. This is part of how I try to help the CCF achieve its goal to save the cheetah from extinction.

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