This was a 6-week long experience. From the staff, different sections and the ever-changing temperatures, the Cheetah Conservation Fund was an unexpected experience. Upon arrival to the dorms of CCF, I called my dad and told him that everyone there was nice and good to work with. He told me I shouldn’t judge character so soon. I agree but my perception of everyone working at CCF has not changed since the first day I arrived there.
For a week I was placed on general duty, this is something everyone who interns at CCF does for their first week. I worked with the infamous Cheetahs, the most precious dogs and the very naughty goats. My favourite part of the work at CCF was working with the dogs and when I return, that is where I would like to spend most of my time. What I loved about CCF is that they take care of their employees and interns the best way they can and they are always willing to help.
Supervision of the goats at 6 am every morning for me felt freeing. Waking up early wasn’t always fun but it was worth it. I got to meet some out of this world dairy goats including my nemesis, Alex the baby goat. Alex jumps fences daily looking for pellets and pets. She’s so cute but can be frustrating at times. We found a way to make it work though. I’ll miss her the most when I leave.
Waking up early also meant you’d be one of the first people to see the sunrise as well as meet a honey badger or two walking outside. And the view, the view is always great. With ever-changing colours of the sky and sunny skies when you go for lunch. The food was great too.
On Mondays to Wednesdays, there would be game counts in the reserves. I loved this part a lot too. We would drive around a section of the reserve to count the game that we are able to see using binoculars, range finders, odometers and notepads. It was amazing. We got to be in the wild with the smell of trees and experience nature at its most raw state.
I was based in the creamery which meant we got to make cheese, yoghurt, ice cream and fudge almost daily. CCF encourages its interns to do a journal club which suggests that we review the article and do presentations on them. This is done to develop and improve skills on research and writing. I reviewed an article on chocolate and eventually, I asked my supervisor if it was possible to experiment on it in the creamery.
It was agreed upon and I got to mixing along with my fellow intern and staff from the creamery. This meant we got to make milk powder from goat milk (all the milk used in the creamery is from goat milk). The chocolate was made with goat milk too. The first batch of chocolate was grainy because of the milk powder. We didn’t have the necessary equipment to completely grind the powder but it tasted great still. We gave samples to a few staff members and interns to try out. They liked it but also pointed out the grains.
I made a few friends at CCF. People I’ll get to see after CCF too. We spent evenings exercising, playing card games and charades which would have you laughing till you drop. Those were the best nights at CCF. Just sharing experiences and laughs.
I am grateful to the Cheetah Conservation Fund for their effort and contribution to the conservation of cheetahs and their ecosystem. It was truly a blessing to intern. I got to learn so much, work with incredibly talented and creative people daily as well as meet the incredible Doctor Laurie Marker and her entire staff and interns who are dedicated to saving the cheetahs and contributing to their communities.
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