The last couple of weeks have seen the arrival of many new faces at CCF including 10 American students and three of their teachers from the University of Florida who will be with us for 2 months. The trip has been organized by Aletris Neils of the University of Arizona (a former student intern at CCF in a similar program in 2002), and is the second of its kind after last year’s was deemed a huge success. During their time here, the students will be conducting their own studies which include radio-collaring dormice, an investigation into bird calls, bat identification and small mammal trapping to see if roads act as barriers. They will also do a 24 hour waterhole count, visit Etosha National Park and give presentations to CCF staff on Namibian culture and human and wildlife conflict. The students have already fitted in nicely and have mucked in with pen cleaning, taken part in puppy aptitude tests and braved standing in the back of the feeding car even though it meant getting a soaking from the rain and puddles! So they appear to be made of the right stuff and we look forward to spending more time with them over the next few weeks and finding out the results of their studies.
I hear some of you asking what exactly I mean by a ‘puppy aptitude test’?! Well, when our livestock guarding dog puppies are around 7 weeks old, we carry out a number of tests on them which aim to tell us how good a guarding dog they will be. There are 11 tests which include:
- seeing how well they respond to being called
- tossing a ball and seeing if they fetch it
- making a loud noise and seeing how they respond
- pinning them down on their back and seeing how they react
Each puppy gets a score for each test and the results are then analysed. Unfortunately rain prevented us from testing all the pups but we will continue testing again when the rain clears up.
This week also saw the arrival of lots of kids and lambs which has meant lots of work for Gunther and his helpers Lazarus, Joe and our herder Armas, especially as the aforementioned rain has made for less than ideal conditions. An important task they have had to carry out is making sure each birthing pen has an ‘island’ so that the little kids can sit on top of it and stay dry during the rain. We have so many newborns that we have had to move some of them into a couple of our empty cheetah pens! So far we have had 62 kids and 14 lambs and more should have arrived by the time you read this.
Finally, CCF has two new staff members, Anza Jansen Van Vuuren and Morne Du voit. Morne will have his hands full on the maintenance side of things, especially with our vehicles as there always seems to be something wrong with them due to harsh conditions they are subjected to!
Anza will take on some of the duties that Laura Linn used to do; sadly, Laura said goodbye to CCF this week after being here for just over two years. For that period Laura has been the glue that has kept everything at CCF together! She was responsible for many of the things essential for the day-to-day running of CCF including scheduling the daily activities, running the gift shop, making sure our daily visitors were happy and looking after student groups and important guests. You will also see her name attached to the 2006 and 2007 International Cheetah Studbook. Last, but certainly not least, Laura was key in raising our ambassador cheetah Little C, who turned out to be a handsome cheetah with a very friendly nature. He will make a great ambassador as he follows Chewbaaka’s steps.