Intern Story – My Time at CCF
- by Ester Kayala February 1, 2017
I arrived at the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) on the 1st of December 2016. CCF is a place with so much to learn about, so much to explore, so many animals and plants to see and study, and a lot of interesting things one can do research on, be it for an undergraduate degree, masters or PHD. I obtained my B.Sc. Honours degree in Environmental Biology from the University of Namibia in 2016, and therefore I was interning in the ecology department, where I was engaged in a lot of departmental fieldwork. I was a part of the team that is using camera traps to identify the animal species we have on the CCF reserve, and I learned that camera traps are a good way to assess the biodiversity of an area. I also participated in game counts on the reserve and learned that game counts are a tool to monitor the populations of the different species on CCF’s reserve so we can analyse the data and determine how healthy the ecosystem and biodiversity are. These tools help us to ensure that cheetahs and other wildlife have safe places to live.
At school I did so much theory, and CCF was a chance for me to apply all that I have been taught in school practically. I have also acquired global positioning system (GPS) and geographic information system (GIS) skills during the course of my stay here.
There are so many activities which included feeding the livestock guarding dogs, they are amazing and huge dogs. I personally fell in love with all of them but, I especially loved Kiri, Lady, Karibib and Taya with puppy Ray. Other activities include cheetah husbandry and of course, cleaning of pens, and helping out in the garden. Gardening was a great opportunity for me to discover how plants flourish under different environmental conditions, which plants prefer specific conditions over others, it was quite interesting considering the now trending global climate change phenomena. CCF recently got a new greenhouse, and we harvested all sorts of delicious vegetables. I have learned so much from the garden and I’m inspired too. I now would love to have a garden in my backyard and I am certainly going to inspire others too.
CCF has a model farm; I was pretty impressed when I saw the design and the layout. The model farm is setting an example to our communal farmers, and is a way of educating our Namibian farmers of better ways to produce livestock in good conditions, to encourage co-existence of our wildlife with our livestock or farmers, and the prevention of human wildlife conflict (HWC).
I have learned so much here that sometimes I do not know what I haven’t learned. I am so glad this is the first place I came to after school to acquire knowledge and experience. Being a woman in conservation is not easy, and I am now motivated more than ever to continue with my journey in conservation. I just obtained new role models. The women here are great scientists, within the same field, they are women with a lifetime of experience who I can look up to.
Last but not least, I had the opportunity of meeting new people from all corners of the world. I worked in a team and that has taught me to be patient, to be enthusiastic, to be willing, to work hard, and to be humble and so much more. CCF has changed my life, I see and understand things differently now, I will forever be grateful for this experience, and CCF is my new home.
Featured photo (at the top) is our GPS training session.
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