Working Guest Story

A Return to CCF Namibia: Canada’s Support

  • by Cheetah Conservation Fund Canada October 25, 2016
A Return to CCF Namibia: Canada’s Support

In July, our Board Chair, Carolyn Farquhar, travelled to CCF Namibia to catch up with all the great work that CCF Namibia is doing thanks to Canadian support. Donations from Canada are making a difference for three specific programs: Cheetah Care, the Livestock Guarding Dogs and the Education for young learners and farmers.

Carolyn met with Bruce Brewer, the General Manager at CCF to see first-hand the impact of Canadian support for the School Program and the Future Farmers of Africa.

  • In 2015, CCF held 56 assemblies for close to 10,000 5th to 7th grade   learners; Canadian funding supported 20 per cent of those events.
  • Canada’s support for the Future Farmers of Africa covered 42 percent of the program costs, and allowed CCF to reach 770 farmers with educational materials and training about predators, methods of reducing livestock losses, and bush encroachment.

Being able to see Rainbow and Aurora up-close and witnessing their enthusiasm for chasing the lure during the regular runs at CCF Centre was thoroughly enjoyable for Carolyn.

“On my last day at CCF, one of the cheetah keepers, Eli Walker, drove us a long way into one of the farms at CCF. We were tracking Zinzi, a cheetah that had been rewilded by CCF, through her GPS collar and we knew that she was quite close to us. CCF has been tracking Zinzi since her release in 2014, and Eli showed us the daily records monitoring the range of her movements across the land.

Eli explained that Zinzi’s movements had reduced to a shorter range when she became a mother to three cubs. As the sole parent, mother cheetahs have to catch prey, feed their cubs, and ensure that they are all safe from other predators. Her cubs were now almost a year old, and they have stayed very close to her at all times.

Our vehicle only took us so far, and then we walked through the bush for a half-kilometre. Eli’s considerable experience and very sharp eyes, aided by the GPS tracking, allowed us to get very close to Zinzi.

Just before we saw her, Eli tied fresh meat to a tree as a temptation for Zinzi. She emerged from the undergrowth cautiously. We made sure to stay at a respectful distance as she is wild and quite wary of people.

After some hissing and spitting at us, Zinzi determined that we were not a danger to her or her cubs. She chirped to her cubs, and they chirped back, and a few moments later, her three cubs moved stealthily from the deeper bush.

Zinzi started to eat the meat, and we knew that shortly thereafter her cubs would join her in this meal. But we also knew that we were in their space, and we needed to leave them in peace. So, with a few  photos taken of a remarkable scene, we retraced our steps in silence.”

Just a few weeks later, the entire CCF team were devastated to learn that Zinzi had been killed, almost certainly by a leopard, while protecting her three young cubs. Eli had been Zinzi’s keeper, was at her side when she was re-wilded, and has written a beautiful eulogy as a tribute to Zinzi.

Zinzi’s three cubs were taken in by CCF, and are now at their sanctuary. As they are still too young to live independently in the wild, CCF is dedicated to keeping them as wild as possible and minimizing human interaction with them. The plan is to re-wild them within eighteen to 24 months, so that they can live out their lives as wild cheetah.

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