T+168 hours: The first two days

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The internet’s working! – I just hope I’m still online as soon as I’m done with this post.

I arrived at the CCF on Sunday at about 23:30. We had to pick a few people up in and around Windhoek and at the airport. Unfortunately, the flight was delayed and we had to wait for quite a while until the other volunteers finally got off of the plane.

Monday was mostly spent introducing the CCF to the volunteers, but we got to work as well. What’s very nice about staying here is the accomodation – you get to live in a small rondavel (with two beds inside) close to the enclosure with five female cheetahs. I was the first one to spot said cheetahs on the first morning.

The first real job we did yesterday was check camera traps. These traps use motion sensors and shoot a picture whether an animal’s passing by them. They usually are placed so they face each other in order to get a picture of either side of the animal. Obviously, the CCF is trying to get pictures of cheetahs marking their territories which they usually do close to playtrees and termite mounds. We changed a few batteries and also one film roll, but since orientation took rather long we didn’t get to finish checking all of the cameras. In the evening, there was a lottery – a nice farmer had called because he caught a cheetah (we’ll be doing a workup on her tomorrow and see if she really is a female), so all the volunteers got a chance to “win” a ride to the farm. There was only space for three people on the truck, and unfortunately I didn’t get one of the papers with the stars on it. I just hope there’ll be another call tomorrow.

Today I have started work on the Conservancy’s waterhole report. Basically, I will be analyzing data in order to help extrapolate population data for possible cheetah prey and other animals. As for my own studies, I still haven’t had any time for them yet. I have observed a lot of interesting things, though, which I will need to write down. I also got to feed about 25 Cheetahs, most of them females. After getting rid of donkey heads on the boneyard we went to the farm where we fed the Cheetahs (most of them are pretty bad-tempered – they spit, stomp and hiss!) from the moving pickup. Some of them really are excellent at that – once the meat has been thrown it doesn’t touch the ground anymore. Others tend to be more relaxed about it and wait for something to fall onto the ground. It was nice driving in between 12 cheetahs, all running behind, in front or next to the car.

I’ve been able to shoot some pretty decent pictures so far, and of course I’m hoping to get more. Shouldn’t be difficult since there’s another cheetah run scheduled for tomorrow at eight in the morning. The cheetahs that are going to run tomorrow are Harry, Ron and Hermione – the Hogwarts group (it has only later been found out that Harry is in fact a Sherry). The females that ran on Monday were actually kind of lazy, I hope the mixed group does better.

Apart from checking more cameras I’ll be cleaning the quarantine pens as well as the (empty) Leopard enclosure tomorrow. We hopefully will soon be getting a chance of meeting Chewbaaka and LittleC, the cheetah ambassadors – something I’ve been looking forward for years!