Summer 2015 – Notes from the FieldNotes from the Field
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In this Issue: Photo Favorite | Puppies with a Purpose | Jacomina’s Cubs: Shandy and Savanna | Open for Visitors | Summer School is in at CCF | Volunteer Inspiration | Greater Waterberg Landscape Initiative | New Offices for CCF USA | On the Road | Upcoming Fall Events and Lectures | Guess the Celebrity Contest
A sight to behold. A resident cheetah at CCF peers through the slats of a transport crate giving us a glimpse of the captivating beauty within the gaze of a cheetah. Photo – Vicky Morey
PUPPIES WITH A PURPOSE
CCF is an organization founded to protect cheetahs and reduce conflict with predators – but our dogs are just as much a part of our mission. And… we love it when it comes to our Kangal and Anatolian shepherd Livestock Guarding Dog puppies! Right now our goat yard is bursting with new arrivals with more soon on the way. Two weeks ago mother Kiri gave birth to a huge litter – nine healthy puppies – fathered by Firat. And just a few days ago, we had another litter of nine puppies, this time it was Taya – also fathered by Firat. This was her first litter and all the puppies are doing fine. By the time you read this we will have another litter on our hands at the end of June. On top of this, we just bred two more dogs that will be due about two months from now. Whew!
All of these new puppies mean a lot of work, especially for one person in particular, Paige Seitz (above in the orange shirt). Paige started at CCF as an intern and has now become our Livestock Guarding Dog Program Manager. She has her hands full, literally, as puppies are weighed regularly, fed supplementally as soon as their eyes are open (at about ten days), de-wormed, and given vaccinations at several points in time. When they are approximately nine weeks old, our CCF veterinarian neuters or spays the puppies and she makes sure they are all fine. She works with the farmers and places the puppies with the farmers at about 10 weeks of age, after the farmers partake in a Dog and Farmer Training Day at CCF. With 12 adult dogs as part of CCF’s Livestock Guarding Dog breeding program, Paige is constantly on the move.
In addition to her hands-on work with the dogs, Paige also interacts with farmers, talking with them on the phone to coordinate placement of the puppies. She is supported by Tyapa Toivo (above in the gray shirt), our Small Livestock Manager, who works with our small stock, the boer goats and sheep and our, growing dairy herd, and Gebhardt Nikanor, one of CCF’s Education Officers, who makes sure farmers are ready to receive the puppies and follows up with them after placement. Together, they train farmers on how to properly care for livestock guarding dogs. After the puppies are placed in their new homes, the CCF team conducts wellness checks at three months to follow up and give vaccination booster shots and again at six months and regularly after that until the dogs are working successfully on their own.
If you have ever had to take care of a litter of puppies, you know how exhausting this can be. But guess what? It’s soon going to be goat kidding time! This creates even more work for Paige and Tyapa, as the two programs overlap. CCF puppies grow up with our goats, the animals they are trained to protect.
When we joke that all of the action at CCF takes place in the goat pen, we are not kidding!
If you love puppies too, please support our Livestock Guarding Dog Program. We go through lots and lots of dog food and vaccines and we always need more. If you can make a donation today, please click here.
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JACOMINA’S CUBS: SHANDY AND SAVANNA
If you have been following the story, Jacomina is a female cheetah that came to CCF as a young orphan, one of CCF’s three “Wild Girls,” along with Emma and Minja. All three were released back into the wild onto CCF land in December of 2013, but because Jacomina was doing so well on her own with multiple confirmed kills, the decision was made to relocate her to Erindi Game Reserve. What we didn’t know at the time was that Jacomina had mated with a wild cheetah while still on CCF land and was about to give birth!
When Jacomina arrived at Erindi, she was introduced into a holding area to give her time to adjust to her new home. It was there that her two female cubs, Shandy and Savanna, were born. All three remained in the holding area for four months to give the cubs time to grow and have their health checked regularly. When it came time to release the family into a larger area, CCF staff members put a satellite-tracking collar on Jacomina.
We’ve been following the family ever since and are pleased to report that Shandy and Savanna (both named after popular Namibian adult beverages) are in excellent health. They both have started to interrupt Jacomina’s kills and are making small kills on their own. Recently, we placed collars on both cubs, now approximately 13 to 14 months of age, so we can continue to track them as they wander off from their mother in another four to five months, at about 18 months of age.
CCF Canada Board of Trustees Chair and President Carolyn Farquhar (photo below pink shirt) and CCF UK Co-Chair Dr. Jane Galton (photo below purple shirt) recently traveled to Namibia to visit and had the chance to observe Jacomina’s cubs receiving their new collars and health check-ups at Erindi. This is what Jane had to say about the experience:
“I had only arrived at CCF the day before, so I felt extremely privileged to be a part of this endeavor. It was incredibly exciting to see wild cheetahs up close but the hour went by in a blur because we had so many different measurements to take. After the cubs were released from their boxes, they chirped and searched for their mother, who was not far away eating. It was so heartwarming to see them all reunited, I still cannot quite believe it all happened.”
Now that biological samples have been collected from Shandy and Savanna, it is possible to determine which wild male cheetah in the CCF landscape may be their father, if we can find scat from this individual animal. We will compare the DNA from their blood with samples of DNA found in scat collected from the area where Jacomina was living when she mated. We also plan to look at camera trap photos from that area, which might help us identify the father. More to come…
CCF’s new Visitor Centre is now officially open! We received our first visitors in the reception area inside the Cheetah Gift Shop on Saturday, May 30. We anticipate that because this is our 25th anniversary, we will have more than the usual number of visitors to CCF, so we are very excited about having the new facility ready in time. Beautiful new signage highlighting CCF’s conservation activities have been hung, which were made possible by a grant from the Museum Association of Namibia.
Our new Visitor Centre is larger, more modern and constructed with materials that make it much less vulnerable to fire than its predecessor. In addition to the main reception area, it also houses the Cheetah Gift Shop, Cheetah Café, the First National Bank Conference Room, staff offices, classrooms, and a curing room for hard cheeses produced at the Dancing Goat Creamery. In the next few weeks, the CCF Applied Biosystems Genetics Laboratory will also move into its new area within the new Visitor Centre complex. The Cheetah Café is also now open to the public, thanks in large part to a donation by the Pupkewitz Foundation that helped replace all of the kitchen items destroyed in the fire, including the refrigerator and freezer, pots, pans, dishes and cutlery. The theme of the new café is farm-to-fork cuisine, with a menu offering homegrown items, CCF’s goat milk products including cheese platters, and homemade ice cream, and reflecting the ethos of our model farm, which supports sustainability and responsible, wildlife-friendly farming techniques.
To view our fire to phoenix walk through with newly updated photos click here
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CCF SCRAPBOOK: 25 YEARS IN PICTURES
The US and European Summer is our winter in Namibia and a very popular time for students to travel to CCF. This year is no exception. Some will stay a few days, sometimes a week. Some older students working on university-level projects may stay for several weeks or more. We have so many groups coming over the next few months, the place is already buzzing with excitement. In addition we have many Namibian school groups visiting and our younger learners have a natural curiosity. Students young and older are always fascinated by the cheetahs, goats, dogs and the wildlife at CCF. Their energy and enthusiasm infuses all of us, like a burst of fresh air.
This year we will host several international students and groups, many from U.S. colleges, like University Nebraska, Rhodes College, and SUNY (State University of New York). CCF has a partnership with SUNY, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (in Israel), and the Namibian Museums to work on a special project focused on biodiversity. We have 5 schools – and 25 students – from the US with us right now. This is an important program and we have worked very hard for a couple years to get this first group to CCF.
Also exciting to report, our own Dr. Ezequiel Fabiano, CCF’s former Senior Researcher, is now a professor at the University of Namibia, and he has brought his conservation biology students here to train them on how to use camera traps, how to conduct radio telemetry tracking, and how to mitigate human-wildlife conflict issues. One of our hopes has always been to train the next generation of African biologists, conservationists and geneticists so that the continent becomes self-sustaining, and we are so pleased (and proud) to see this goal realized through the work of Dr. Fabiano.
We are proud to offer a very special opportunity to own a limited edition commemorative medallion featuring Dr. Laurie Marker and the 25th Anniversary of CCF. This medallion will be available in bronze and silver and features the work of world-renowned sculptor Eugene Daub.
The silver medallion is 5 oz (+/-) and both 2.5 inch medallions feature the same design. Above is the obverse (heads) and the reverse (tails) is below. The water along the coast of Namibia is blue enamel on both limited edition medallions. The silver medallion will be limited to a minting of 75 total and the bronze will be limited to a minting of 300 total.
Purchase these limited edition medallions while you can! $85 for the bronze option (tax-deductible $65) and $250 for the silver option (tax-deductible $150).
Nancy Boynton from Upland, New York has been to CCF 11 times. We’re not sure, but we think she may have the record for the most trips to CCF as a volunteer. Nancy first visited CCF as an Earthwatch Expedition volunteer, and she somehow found that special connection that brings her back to us year after year. We are so grateful she did! This year, Nancy chose to spend her recent 65th birthday here with us.
Amazingly, Nancy says she is not done with us yet – and we are truly thankful, as she is a blessing. Because she has been here so often, Nancy knows how to do so many things. When we need something done, I just say, “Oh, ask Nancy!” She is wonderfully efficient and not afraid to get her hands dirty – she knows how to cut meat for the cheetahs, she takes care of puppies and she can even add data into the computer correctly without asking questions. I trust her to do just about anything.
Even though CCF has an efficient staff, we are still a volunteer-driven organization. We consider our volunteers to be a part of our family, and we rely on them like family to help us get through. Like Nancy, many of our volunteers are committed for the long term, our donors are also active with CCF chapters.
From your CCF family – Thanks to all our volunteers who help in so many ways.
For the past six months, we have been working on an exciting new project to help develop the economies of four neighboring conservancies, which we have named the Greater Waterberg Landscape Initiative. With primary support provided by a grant from the 10th European Development Fund and additional support from Disney Conservation Fund, Busch Gardens, and the Cheetah Species Survival Plan (SSP), we are taking the Future Farmers of Africa training course out to the rural areas and bringing it to the people who are not able to avail themselves of training at CCF’s Centre. At the same time, we are conducting additional workshops to train residents in how to set up tourism-focused businesses making and selling their handmade arts and crafts. We just held our second craft workshop and are gearing up for the third.
We are very excited to expand the economy of this region from one based on traditional subsistence farming to a broader, more viable economic structure and develop the area as a modern eco-tourist destination over the next several years. With these grants, we have been able to hire a main agriculture training mentor and four local men as facilitators, one from each conservancy, to help coordinate the training workshops and reach out to their people to bring them in. We selected them because of their history of leadership within their respective conservancies.
The targeted area for this program includes the Eastern Communal area known as Hereroland and the Greater Waterberg Landscape. The four conservancies are African Wild Dog, Ozonahi, Otjituuo and Okamatapati. Every month, we hold eight trainings within the region, with two full days spent in each conservancy. Approximately 40 to 50 people are participating in each of the sessions.
In addition, a new livestock veterinarian is on his way to Namibia to support the work done by our Livestock training mentor, Sampson Karamata. And, veterinary students from Cornell University are also coming to Namibia this summer to assist with human-wildlife conflict management. Sampson is currently spending four days a week working with Matti Nghikembua, CCF’s Senior Ecologist and Education Officer, on our integrated wildlife livestock management program traveling to the four conservancies with the above mentioned facilitators. The next planned step in the evolution is to go out into the villages and look at the health of the livestock to help the villagers implement what they learned in the training course.
Capacity building and training is critical for the economic development initiative to succeed. We believe that the years we’ve spent putting the tools in place are going to pay off as we implement the trainings on a larger scale. Hereroland and the Greater Waterberg Landscape are important areas because they are home to several of the world’s most endangered species, including cheetahs, wild dogs, and cape vultures.
On April 1, 2015, CCF staff members moved into their new home in Alexandria, Virginia. Located just off King Street and two short blocks from the King Street Metro Station, the private suite of offices is larger than the old space in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, measuring approximately 900 square feet, and provides ample room for volunteers and interns to work side-by-side with CCF staff. The common space also enables staff to work collaboratively on projects, a big plus over the old space.
“We are very pleased with the new offices and are grateful to have gotten favorable terms for a much sought-after location,” said Mary Beth Fellenstein, Director of Operations and Finance for CCF USA. “We’ve already noticed benefits from having the staff work in closer proximity to each other, and the additional space affords us the ability to meet and interact with donors and volunteers.”
The address of the new office is 200 Daingerfield Road, Suite 200, Alexandria, VA 22314. Click on the photo to the right for Google Maps directions. COME VISIT US!
Early in 2015 I spent considerable time taking the CCF message out on the road, first traveling through Europe, then the United States and then on to the United Arab Emirates. All combined, I was traveling from February 8 through May 1, 2015, with only a few days at home in Namibia between the European and U.S. tours to touch base and repack for the next leg of my journey. Teresia Robitschko, my assistant, traveled with me this year assisting in all the activities and meetings.
My first public speech was at the EU conference in Brussel “Towards an EU strategic approach to wildlife conservation in Africa” which focused on strategic planning of Wildlife Conservation in Africa for the next 10 years. This was followed by a lecture on February 11 at the Bristol Zoo Gardens in Bristol, England. The next day I had a guest lecture at my graduate school alma mater, Oxford University, at the WildCRU. Another stop on the tour was at the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) and the IUCN Global Species Programme office in Gland, Switzerland, where I gave a presentation titled 25 Years of Conservation – Changing the World to Save the Cheetah. In Europe, I visited 13 cities in seven countries and appeared at 16 events within the span of three-and-a-half weeks. Thank goodness I packed light!
A special highlight of the tour for me was The First European Cheetah Workshop, a two-day conference organized with and held at the Safari Park Beekse Bergen in the Netherlands. The event brought together facilities in the EU that have captive cheetah populations to talk about the European breeding programs. I met so many of the people I interact with regularly through my long-time work as the International Cheetah Studbook Keeper. All are committed to working hard to save the cheetah for future generations. I was able to share a lot of knowledge about proper care and management and suggestions to assist their breeding programs, along with information about good nutrition, disease issues and genetic concerns, along with CCF’s Dr. Anne Schmidt Küntzel, who met us in the Netherlands for the conference.
I began my spring tour of the U.S. with an event in Washington, D.C. honoring Hi Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. The event was the International Conservation Caucus Foundation Gala, the same event where I was given the same Good Stewardship Award in 2013. I felt very honored to be in the audience. Prince Charles is highly intelligent with a wonderful sense of humor and a rich, mellifluous voice. His dedication and his family’s dedication to conservation is well known, and I so appreciate all he has done for conservation.
From D.C., I flew to New York for meetings and the Explorers Club Annual Dinner with Constance Difede, Explorer’s Club Vice President for Flag and Honors. Our welcoming cocktail reception the day before was held aboard the carrier Intrepid, which was very exciting – except for the fact that it was snowing very hard. Having just arrived from Namibia it was a shock and I did not expect to arrive in New York City to a snowstorm on March 20! By Saturday, the snow stopped and we had a great evening at the American Museum of Natural History with my fellow Explorers and conservationists. It was fantastic to see some old friends and make some new ones, including Explorers Club honoree and Director of the Hayden Planetarium, Dr. Neil de Grasse Tyson and one of our CCF Trustee’s husbands, from the Explorer’s Club Bruce Blanchard.
During this tour, I had the distinct opportunity to speak at several zoos, with my next stop being the Indianapolis Zoo (I also gave talks at Happy Hollow Zoo in San Jose, the Santa Barbara Zoo, and the Living Desert in Palm Desert, California). I also lectured for the first time at the California Academy of Sciences at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, highlighting the past 25 years of work to save this endangered species with a talk titled The Life of Cheetahs. Both the event as well as my lecture was hosted by WCN.
It was a delight to have had five special ambassador cheetah events throughout the U.S. to help support CCF programs during our 25th anniversary year. All of the events where well-attended and made a huge impact on the success of the tour.
My first cheetah event was hosted in Oklahoma City by CCF Trustee Vicki Gourley, with the support of CCF Trustee Suzi Rapp from the Columbus Zoo. It was held at a fabulous new downtown penthouse apartment overlooking the Oklahoma City skyline nicknamed the “Cheetah Pad,” with ambassador cheetah Misi, Jack Hanna’s frequent partner on The Late Show with David Letterman.
I also enjoyed the wonderful opportunity to be hosted by CCF Trustee Emanuel Friedman, Kindy Friedman and Simone Friedman of EJF Philanthropies at the beautiful Houston home of Nick and Katie Johnson for my second major fundraising event of the tour. The Houston Zoo supported the event with two ambassador cheetahs. Our presentation covered the mission of CCF these past 25 years and our conservation programs, and about 120 guests were in attendance. It was a great event!
My last three cheetah events were in California, beginning with a party at Dawson Cole Fine Art in Carmel. The gallery was featuring an exhibit of the work of local artist Richard MacDonald, who hosted the event with his daughter Michelle. (Follow the link to view his beautiful bronze sculptures) The Wild Cat Education & Conservation Fund brought a special ambassador cheetah to support the cause.
In Southern California, we held two fundraising events with cheetahs. The first was in Palm Springs at the gorgeous new home of Roswitha Smale, a CCF Sundowner with a fashion show featuring the beautifully handpainted Animal Fashions by Jordan and an appearance by ambassador cheetah Masika from Wild Wonders. The second was in Sherman Oaks where CCF Trustees Elizabeth Marquart and Alan Feldstein hosted the 4th annual Meetah Cheetah event. Both were sold out and captured the spirit of celebration for this year’s 25th anniversary milestone celebration.
My U.S. tour lasted over five weeks and took me to eight states and 20 cities. All of these incredible events were made possible through the dedication and support of our CCF Board and Trustees and the local CCF chapters and volunteers, together with the cooperation of the various conservation and educational facilities that support CCF through their ambassador cheetah programs.
From the U.S., I flew directly to Abu Dhabi to present at a Saharan species wildlife conservation conference held by the Sahel Saharan Interest Group (SSIG) and the Saharan Conservation Foundation. I spoke about the illegal wildlife trade as it involves cheetahs. Since the conference was being held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), I talked about the illegal pet trade and the work we are doing with our UAE partners to collect and bank blood and sperm samples from the animals that come through their facilities. I also talked about how we work with facilities and veterinarians to build awareness around the illegal cheetah trade in the Gulf region. While at the conference, we met up with people from Niger who were trained at CCF in conservation, and many other long-time friends working in these Sahal Saharan regions of Africa. It was so great to see them there!
Click below to view the events calendar at cheetah.org for more information and updated or additional events. We hope to see you soon!
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The first three people to respond with the correct name of the celebrity in this photo will receive one of our new Cheetah Conservation Fund patches! ‘O Brother’ will you be the envy of everyone when you sport this new CCF item – that way you will not have to ‘hunt’ for one on our web site (hint hint).
CCF wants to thank everyone again for all your support for the cheetah and the conservation programs that are so kindly supported by you. The survival of the cheetah is complicated and interconnected with work that needs to be done continuously as we fight to save the cheetah from extinction.
We thank you for your help and efforts to save this magnificent species!