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. ๐Ÿ˜€


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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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… ๐Ÿ˜‰

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 waitingย  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 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.