I arrived in the USA a week ago to begin my annual Spring Tour. What a change after the past two years of such limited meetings only on Zoom. But, my work with our teams in Namibia and Somaliland and are always first and foremost. We use WhatsApp as our means of regular communications between all our staff around the world, and it’s amazing what can be done in coordination even while traveling!
I have to say that there are no dull moments in either of our field bases and rapid communications are very important. It was no different on the day I left Namibia, heading out for my US trip. It’s a four hour drive to the airport from the CCF Centre and it was a very busy travel day.
On my journey to Windhoek, I was busy fielding messages from CCF’s field and veterinary staff as we were responding to multiple emergency situations. As I left in the morning it reported that one of our radio collared cheetahs was found dead. We had released a female cheetah who we called Calypso, and her 2 adolescent cubs about 10 months earlier in the east of the country. We knew from her recent behavior that she likely had cubs, so knew there must be cubs in the area. We needed our field team to go to the site of the cheetahs and confirm the situation. And sadly it was confirmed, and we believe that it was from a snake bite, as the cat was not killed by the farmer on whose land she was found. So, then we needed to see if we could find the cubs.
So, Dr. Hanlie Winterbach, our ecologist in the area headed from that farm to the farm where the last den site was noted via the satellite fixes. She went out with the farmer and they didn’t find anything getting back to me with me encouraging them to go look again. They thought that the mother had been dead for a few days, and I knew that the cubs could live at least a week to 10 days without their mom.
Finding a cheetahs den isn’t very easy, kind of like looking for a needle in a hay stack. So, she and the farmer went out again, this time they took the farmers dog. And, they found 2 cubs, and kept looking and found a third!
At the same time as the cheetah cubs were being picked up in one part of the country, one of our puppies being delivered to a farm got out of its crate and jumped out of the truck at the farm and broke its leg, suffering a compound fracture which required surgery. As we were just reaching Windhoek, on the way to the airport, I stopped in at the Rhino Park Veterinary Clinic and arranged for emergency surgery for the puppy the next morning with CCF’s longtime friend and veterinary surgeon Dr. Ulf.
The next morning CCF’s vet, Dr. Ana and Calum, our Livestock Guarding Dog Manager, came to Windhoek with the puppy. Ana and Dr. Ulf set the puppy’s leg with pins and plates during a 3 hours surgery.
During that time, Hanlie arrived in Windhoek with the three cubs the from the East and after the surgery, Ana worked to stabilize the cubs. They stayed over in Windhoek and the next morning she and Calum headed back to the CCF Centre with the puppy, which is now recovering in confinement to limit his movement and with the three cubs which are doing well in the nursery under Cheetah Curator, Becky’s care. And, by the time I got to the USA all was back to normal at CCF! Never a dull moment!