T+238 hours: Waterhole count and camera traps

I didn’t get a chance to post a new blog entry yesterday because after arriving at CCF, I immediately showered and got to bed. The game count was pretty exhausting, so this is one entry for two days.

Originally, Shane (my roommate) and I were supposed to join Trina (another EarthWatch volunteer) at the Kindergarten waterhole in Bellebenno. However, two ladies supposed to be watching the Erik se Pos waterhole backed away from doing it since the hide was about 8 metres off the ground. Thus, Shane and I decided to do it instead.

Basically, what we were trying to do is count all the animals that went to the waterhole, write down at what time they got there, how many there were (and whether they were adult, subadults or juveniles) and also whether they drank or licked salt (from a block that had been put there before). Shane and I ended up moving that block a few hours after our arrival since we suspected the animals would like to have it closer to the water, and we were right.

Once up there, we had an excellent view into all directions (I’ll add pictures to the blog entries once I get home). There were some problems, though – we didn’t have a backrest and the nets that were supposed to be protecting us from the sun were almost falling off of the wires they had been attached to. Since there was a lot of unused or expendable wire we decided to refurbish about half the hide. We tightened the nets and even built a backrest using a spare log and some wire. It may not have been the most beautiful backrest there is, but it sure was better than the abyss right behind you. We also felt more secure when about thirty baboons showed up, all kind of pissed at us because we were so close to the waterhole. They didn’t leave for about half an hour, but after that, things got pretty quiet. We also saw a few zebra with a foal, but they didn’t get close to the waterhole since two oryxes were bullying them.

I got to check more cameras today, and even climbed a three metre fence today. It was quite nice and I also got a shot of myself because despite giving my best effort, the other camera pointing at the one I was working on detected me. Then again, this was better than the faulty one that got three shots of a termite mound while I was working on it – out of sight.

I finished the data entry on the (seriouos) Waterhole count’s results today. I will begin analyzing that data soon, but tomorrow we’ll walk Little C (the becoming cheetah ambassador) and I’ll also be busy raking mulch on a Nature Trail I don’t yet know. Yay!

Also, all other volunteers will be leaving for Etosha tomorrow. This means I’ll have plenty of time on my hands on Sunday – if I’m not needed somewhere.

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T+188 hours: Cheetahs!

Touched my first cheetah today. She may have been asleep, but… 😀

But let’s start from the beginning. The first thing today was a Cheetah Run with our Hogwarts kitties. As before with the females, this was very nice to watch. Obviously, it was another chance to get great shots of them chasing behind that red piece of cloth attached to the line.

After that, things got a little confusing. I was originally supposed to clean the goat pen, but since we had to relocate Armadillo, a very, very big male cheetah, from one of the quarantine pens to another enclosure, I helped with that. He was supposed to get into a locked corridor for us to be able to put one of the carring boxes in front of the entrance, but he’s quite smart and we’re kind of slow compared to him. He managed to escape twice before we finally trapped him inside and got him in the box.

Following that, the cheetah that arrived yesterday had to be anaesthesized for the workup. We estimated her (it turned out she’s really a she as opposed to Harry) to weigh about 38 kg, but after hearing her fall over in her box ten minutes later, we got her out and weighed her. She weighs 43 kg, and we were kind of afraid the anaesthesia we had injected wouldn’t be sufficient for her weight, but everything went fine. We examined her closely, took some skin samples and examined her teeth. Apparently, she needs to go to the dentist. I wonder if she’d appreciate one taking care of her. In any case, I got to help and also touch her. Cheetah fur is strangely rough, but nice to the touch. I just know I loved it.

Tomorrow, I’ll be helping with a 12-hour game count. That’s going to be exhausting, I bet.

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T-7 days: one week remains

I guess I’m supposed to start blogging now that everything seems to have been taken care of. So far, my travel arrangements, accomodation in Windhoek and of course my stay with the Cheetah Conservation Fund have been arranged and also been paid for.

I’m now a week away from arrival in Namibia and with only a few things left to do (such as getting some supplies for the CCF, my sunglasses and a replacement for my backpack) I have decided to finally get this blog up and running. There’s still a few things to be done, but everything looks good so far.

I just hope I’ll be able to find some time for writing down my daily reports while at the farm or even get the opportunity to post some things online.

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