I am visiting CCF from Scotland as a working guest for 4 weeks. I work in banking so this is very different from what I do every day. It is now the end of my second week and I cannot believe how much has happened and how fast time is going!
I came to CCF as I am very passionate about wildlife and have enjoyed many safaris in Africa and I am keen to support a future where this amazing wildlife is around for generations to come. My favourite animal has always been the cheetah. I think it is because of its combination of speed, grace and vulnerability. It really is the ‘under cat’ of the big cat world.
I found myself with the time and opportunity to do something to support conservation and picked CCF as it was a chance to support cheetah conservation, to give support direct to the NGO and a chance to get my hands dirty.
I have found since I have been here that there is a lot more to CCF than just cheetah conservation and there are a lot more animals! There is a dog breeding programme which is breeding and placing Anatolian shepherd dogs with farmers to protect their livestock. These dogs are gentle giants but will fight to protect their ‘family’ from predators such as cheetah. They have a really loud bark and it serves as a deterrent to many predators and also saves the predators from being shot by the farmers. They are placed on the farms a very quickly they become attached to the goats or sheep and will protect them to the death. At the moment one of the dogs has puppies and they are getting bigger and stronger by the day before going off to their farms.
There are also 2 dogs trained in scat detection. This means then can detect Cheetah poo and this is collected and analysed and helps to understand the wild cheetah movements, numbers and what they have been eating. This is useful at CCF and in the local farming community.
I got to go out yesterday and see Finn who is a 10 year old border collie at work in the field. It was really interesting and even in the long grass he still managed to detect the scat. Clever Finn!!
While I have been here I have had the chance to help out providing care for the dogs and big cats, mainly feeding, cleaning and exercising. This has been fun and it is funny how quickly you get attached to them. One thing that is very clear is that all the people involved in caring for the animals really take the job seriously and work hard to keep the animals healthy.
I have also been helping with the regular game counts at CCF which has been interesting. This helps to support wider analysis of game numbers across the Waterberg area.
It is hard to believe all the things I have been doing and it has only been 2 weeks! Let’s see what the next 2 weeks have in store……