Intern Story

Genetics Lab Internship, Dog Walks and Livestock

  • by Lisa-Camilla Mutzberg December 3, 2021
Genetics Lab Internship, Dog Walks and Livestock

The Cheetah Conservation Fund first caught my attention during my prior travels with my family in Namibia. I found out about the genetics laboratory when we came for the center feeding on CCF’s land close to Otjiwarongo.

I am currently studying Bioengineering at the Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences in Germany. To obtain my bachelor’s degree, the university requests an internship of 20 weeks. As CCF’s lab is the only fully equipped genetics lab at a conservation facility in Africa, it was the perfect fit for my internship.

Since I have never experienced conservation work in the field, I am excited for my next weeks of working in all of CCF’s departments. The combination of lab work four days a week with two days of general activities lets me experience the broad spectrum of applied wildlife conservation CCF has to offer and is the perfect way to learn about common and new practices employed by CCF.

Assisting the Kraal team surprised me personally the most, as I have not worked with livestock beforehand. The work with the livestock guarding dogs and livestock itself was hard but interesting. I learned to enjoy handling and working the goats by supporting the milking team in the afternoons, hoof trimming, and by assisting the vets with health checks.

The bottle-fed goat kid ‘baby llama’ stole my heart after the first bottle I gave her. The feisty little goat often blessed us with her presence at dinner to receive her bottle before heading to bed.

Thanks to the fabulous kraal team we now have cute goat kids running around with intern names including one named after myself.
Since the protection of cheetahs goes hand in hand with the reduction of human wildlife conflict, CCF breeds and raises Anatolian Shepherds. The Anatolian Shepherds were chosen as livestock guarding dogs for their size, loud bark, and their adaptations to native conditions in Namibia.

Mornings with the dogs start with feeding and receiving an unlimited number of free kisses and cuddles, which is my favorite way to start the day. Interacting and caring for the dogs gave me the opportunity to learn about breeding cycles and regular health checks like vaccinations and deworming procedures on the dogs and on the herd.

Finishing the day of with dog walks is the perfect opportunity for me to recharge after a long day with the best company anyone could ask for, while being safe outside of the center.

Wildlife is experienced best on game drives along CCF farms. The night drives offered on Sundays gave me the amazing opportunity to see the wild cats of Africa in their natural habitat. Sightings of genets, African wild cats and a serval make these drives a unique experience each time.

Since the transportation at CCF mainly occurs by company trucks, it was important for the staff, interns, and myself to learn how to change a tire (on one of the, for Europeans, larger than average cars). Tips from the expert, Vernon Theron, on the difficulties with flat tires on the dirt roads or sandy reserve terrains were more than welcome. I am looking forward to the experiences that are waiting for me in the next weeks and months.

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