Saturday, June 08, 2013

Down on the Farm, Cheetah Style

Greetings All,
We have been working at the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) farm near Otjiwarongo, Namibia for nearly a week.   We arrived last Sunday and settled into our home for the month. 

Marc on the Front Porch of our New Home

We are sharing a 2-bedroom house with another couple from California.  Our bedroom is furnished with two twin beds and a 3-drawer nightstand.  Marc has set up his MiFi so I can work on my iPad from the comfort of my bed.

Peggy in our Cozy Bedroom

We have a little kitchen with a table, chairs, shelves and a sink.

Marc in our Kitchen

We bought an electric kettle so we can make fresh pressed coffee in the morning.  Our first task on Monday was called husbandry.  We helped Ryan, the assistant Cheetah Keeper, feed some of the cheetahs. They are fed approximately 2 kg of meat per day,  6 days per week.  The meat is mostly donkey with some horse (sorry Joanne).  Since there are 50 cheetahs to feed, donkey is the most readily available meat to buy from local farmers.  The cheetahs are fed in small pens where the keepers can observe what they eat and make sure each cat gets its fair share.  They are fed out of enamel bowls which keeps sand out of their food.

Lunch Time at CCF

Currently, CCF has 3 cubs around 6 months old.  Each cat has a different story.  Some are orphaned after their mothers were shot by a farmer, others are confiscated from people trying to keep them illegally as pets, while others are found abandoned by their mothers for reasons unknown.  Stitch is a new arrival.  She came from a game lodge that was going out of business.  She has difficulty walking due to a presumed calcium deficiency that has left her bones week.  I had to feed her medicated meat from a wooden spoon with a long handle.

Peggy giving Stitch her Medication

Along with feeding comes cleaning the enclosures.  Some had pooper scoopers for picking up cheetah poo but others had no scoopers so we used our hands.  Fortunately, I had brought a pair of work gloves along.  

Peggy picking up bones & Cheetah Poo

In addition to taking care of the cheetahs, there are dogs, sheep, goats and horses to care for. Anatolian Shepherds are bred as livestock guarding dogs.  CCF works with local farmers to resolve human-wildlife conflicts. The Anatolian Shepherds are effective in protecting sheep and goats from cheetahs.  Over 450 dogs have been placed on farms in the area.  The dogs have to be walked to keep them in good condition.

Marc Walking Felice

Currently, there are two litters of 11 puppies each at CCF that need to be fed twice a day.  It's quite a chore to feed 22 bundles of energy intent on eating their litter-mates food or escaping into another pen.  They settle down once a blue bowl of food is placed in front of them.

All puppies placed on farms have to be spayed or neutered.  CCF has a clinic and vet on hand to preform these surgeries.  Marc got to assist in four neuter operations.  He was in charge of monitoring the puppy's heart rate and respiration.

That's it for now.  Stay tuned for more tails and tales from CCF.  We do have pretty good internet access here so feel free to send questions or comments.
We hope all is well back home.
Peggy and Marc


Roy Neuer said...

You got cheetahs and Anatolian Shepard's; here it's been simply raining cats and dogs.
Looks like a great experience.
Keep up the interesting notes.
Cheers, Roy Neuer

Anonymous said...

Thanks, again, cousins for an amazing re-telling of such adventure! Peggy, you are a polished writer..everything comes alive! We both enjoyed the Australian logs too. Those little cheetahs are sweet!

Anonymous said...

Peggy, DonnaWaldron is the anonymous writer