Volunteer Story

Working Guest Story

CCF: “Like No Other Place”

  • by Dave Paterson February 27, 2023
CCF:  “Like No Other Place”
Cheetah Mom & cubs enjoying lunch. Photo courtesy of Dave Paterson

About Me, Dave Paterson

I have just finished my fourth week of volunteering at the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) in Namibia a month ago.

To provide a bit of context, I am a 70-year-old guy from British Columbia, Canada who has been retired for 15 years. I travelled to Namibia in 2015 and was eager to come back.

I have no experience whatsoever in veterinary medicine, wildlife conservation, animal husbandry or any field that is in any way related to the mission of CCF.

I was upfront in my volunteer application stating I have no skills and no experience. They said I could come to CCF under their working volunteer program.

I had gone through the CCF website, and watched a few You Tube videos, but really had no idea what I was getting into.

My time at CCF

As my taxi approached CCF, the driver mentioned we were now on CCF land. And he told me that grader operating to the left was owned by CCF, and the large John Deere tractor was owned by CCF. It was then that I realized that CCF was far bigger than expected.

My time at CCF was mostly spent in either the dog department or the cheetah department. Every animal on the property needs to be fed, watered, cleaned up after and kept healthy.

The staff were exceptionally patient with me and after a few days of trying to keep up with the onslaught of information I began to settle in.

The next few weeks went by very quickly.

Livestock Guarding Dog Puppies. Photo courtesy of Dave Paterson

So what were the highlights?

Of course, observing the cheetahs on a daily basis was always thrilling. Being in the company of the Anatolian dogs was also something I really enjoyed. So many different personalities in such huge strong bodies.

I learned that in order to vaccinate a goat you must first catch the goat. We went on a game count drive for an hour or so on the property and saw springbok, steenbok, jackals, warthogs, ostriches, eland and oryx.

Cheetah Mom & cubs enjoying lunch. Photo courtesy of Dave Paterson

About the staff at CCF

But what impressed me most about CCF was the knowledge, the compassion, the enthusiasm, and the commitment that the managers, the support staff, the interns, the scientists and the veterinarian staff all exhibited towards the mission of CCF every minute of every day.

I would guess the average age of the folks working or studying at CCF would be 27 or so. Outside of the GM, there was no one over 35.

But these folks worked incredibly hard in some tough conditions and they loved every cheetah, dog or goat on the property.

A reward for cheetahs after chasing the lure. Photo courtesy of Dave Paterson

They are very serious about conservation, the genetics that need to be studied, the experience and education the interns need to receive.

They work incredibly well as a team to ensure todays cheetahs, dogs and goats live well, and the future for the animals is promising and exciting.

I was incredibly lucky to have been able to enjoy the folks and the critters at CCF. It is like no other place I have ever been.

Stay up-to-date...

with the activities of Cheetah Conservation Fund in Canada, Namibia and Somaliland. We send semi-annual newsletters and info about special events and initiatives. We do not share your email address with any other organization.

Share with friends