Intern Story

My Internship Assigned to the Cheetah Squad

  • by Paulina Shimbu April 15, 2023
My Internship Assigned to the Cheetah Squad

My name is Paulina Shimbu, and it’s my duty to do good for the wildlife. I am a third-year student at the University of Namibia pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Management and Tourism (Katima Mulilo campus). When I arrived at Cheetah Conservation Fund on December 6, 2022, I felt like I was in another nation since the atmosphere is so distinct.

What can I share regarding CCF? If you’re considering an internship here, there are several departments, so you will likely find something that suits your interests. Some look after the amazing livestock guardian dogs, sheep and goats, others analyze samples in the genetics department, and the cheetah crew feeds the cheetahs and keeps an eye on them every day.

Before my time at CCF, I had never encountered a cheetah and had only seen them in photographs. Being assigned to the cheetah squad was an honour for me. As I watched the cheetahs play with and groom one another, I could see that cheetahs and domestic cats have a lot in common. In terms of cheetah husbandry, I worked with two cheetah keepers at CCF, and I learned a lot from them. They showed me how to prepare meat, which involves checking for any small bones which could cause choking. We also removed any extra fat that would affect their health if they ate it. I also learned more about why people manage and protect animals by working with the cheetahs.

In addition, I worked with a dog team on a regular basis, feeding dogs, cleaning their bowls, and taking them on walks. On a daily basis, I became active in tourism and hospitality, cleaning dishes in the café and organizing things in the gift shop. I assisted the garden staff in watering the plants, maintaining the garden, and harvesting the ready-to-eat vegetables. I also assisted the ecology team in maintaining the camera traps in the reserve and periodically counting the number of animals. I occasionally worked with the veterinary team to evaluate the health of sheep and goats.

I’ve learned a lot in the six weeks I’ve been at CCF and gained good hands-on experience working with each department. What we learn at university is mostly just reading and I found this experience helped me get a better understanding of how to manage wildlife. I’m looking forward to learning more about human-wildlife conflict and conservation in other organizations in the future. The people at CCF are excellent because they are polite and modest.

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