This is a guest blog post by Tracy Maketo who completed a 4 month internship at CCF earlier this year and is now employed by CCF.
Funding for the internship was provided through Canadian donations to the education program, Future Conservationists of Africa.
I learned about the Cheetah Conservation Fund in my second year of college at the University of Namibia, Windhoek. A couple of my classmates were considering interning there, and I thought it would be a good idea for me to apply as well. I didn’t have much of conservation practical experience at the time but I was of course interested in learning more.
My first time at CCF was in early January as an Ecology intern, as I was studying Environmental Biology at the time. That’s when I realized that there is no better place to acquire practical experience than CCF.
Together with the Ecology team lead by an amazing Ecologist named Kaarina Shilula, we would go out into the field to service camera traps, conduct game counts, and see so many beautiful animals. On top of that, we got to relive the amazing experience with the wildlife as we sorted through images from the camera traps.
During my four weeks with CCF, I learned a lot about conservation and got to experience first-hand the intensive work CCF puts into the conservation of cheetahs.
In February, I returned to Windhoek to begin my third year of college, but due to financial constraints, I was unable to continue. I asked to return to CCF for another internship, which I was fortunate enough to get, this time as an assistant to Dr. Laurie Marker. This was a fantastic opportunity because I got to work with the Director.
I also had the opportunity to work with the horses, who are absolutely stunning. This was also my first time and, despite being terrified of approaching them, I formed bonds with all of them.
I’m grateful to Cheetah Conservation Fund Namibia and Cheetah Conservation Fund Canada for providing me with the opportunity and funding to be a part of this incredible project.
I worked in as many departments as I could (Tourism and Hospitality, Livestock Guarding Dogs, and Animal Husbandry), and it’s all been a lot of fun. I got to take guests to our Model Farm to show/tell them about our dogs/goats, and it was fascinating to see the joy on their faces, answer their questions, and/or listen to them.
I believe that donations are very important not only to organizations but also to individuals. I was able to pursue what I was interested in and later fell in love with thanks to a donation I received from the CCF affiliate in Canada.
I gained a better understanding of conservation, where the problem with cheetahs stems from, and how I can help. With the donation, I also had the opportunity to get back on my feet and not just sit around for a year wondering what if. And I will be eternally grateful for the opportunity.
With CCF, I’ve learned more about conservation, different types of animals that I had no idea existed, and how to interact with people from various countries who have different points of view.
I’ve learned that doing something about a problematic situation, no matter how small, makes a difference. It brings us one step closer to our goal. And the goal here is to keep as many cheetahs in the wild as possible, or to re-wild them, which we can do if we come together with whatever resources are at our disposal.
I hope to return to school in 2023, hopefully after acquiring a government scholarship or bursary, to pursue an Honors degree in Geographic Information Systems with a conservation emphasis, and to conduct additional research on finding new ways to help animals and their habitats.
Let's Help More Namibian Students Obtain Internships
Each year, we provide approximately $5,000 in donations to CCF to help support their Future Conservationists of Africa program. CCF educates ~11,000 students and teachers each year through this important initiative.
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