In memory of Chewbaaka, CCF's cheetah ambassador in Namibia for 15 years who passed away in April, CCF is conducting the Chewbaaka Memorial Challenge. All donations up to $300,000 will be matched, dollar for dollar. Chewbaaka was rescued by Dr. Laurie Marker when he was only 10 days old and extremely ill. In the process of saving his life, Dr. Marker and the tiny cub bonded deeply. That bond was evidenced by Dr. Marker and Chewbaaka's trips into the bush, where Mr. C. would climb playtrees and chase lures and always return to Dr. Marker's side afterward. Chewbaaka was an exemplary ambassador for his species, meeting tens of thousands of people over the years at CCF's headquarters in Namibia. His regal bearing and willingness to be the center of attention while he demonstrated the use of playtrees and the amazing speed of a cheetah was so unique--and it left all visitors with a respect for the species. In the 15 years that Chewbaaka presided over CCF's Visitor's Centre, thousands of Namibian livestock and game farmers visited CCF to learn how to protect their livestock from predators. And in the course of their visit they inevitably met Chewbaaka. By getting up close and personal with this exceptional cheetah, many of the farmers left with a newfound respect for the animal--and a commitment to the nonlethal predator control methods learned at CCF. Chewbaaka, orphaned himself by a farmer, probably prevented hundreds if not thousands of cheetah cubs from being orphaned by farmers by making such an impression on everyone he met during his 15 years at CCF. Please donate during our matching challenge before August 31, and your donations will be doubled! Thank you for supporting the Cheetah Conservation Fund.
On April 3, Chewbaaka, CCF's ambassador cheetah, died peacefully in his sleep, a month after sustaining injuries while tussling with a kudu that had leaped into his enclosure. Chewbaaka was almost 16 years old, which is extremely old for a cheetah. Chewbaaka arrived at CCF when he was less than two weeks old. His siblings had been killed by a farmer's dog, and Chewbaaka was too ill to be released with his mother. Near death, he required round-the-clock nursing by Dr. Marker until he had recovered. The two developed a unique bond that lasted the rest of Chewbaaka's life. Marker often took him out into the bush, with no leash or fences to keep him from leaving, yet he never left her side. He had a regal bearing that everyone who met him commented on. He greeted everyone who visited CCF--from children from nearby schools to celebrities and government officials from all over the world. He demonstrated the use of play trees and the cheetah's unbelievable speed and maneuverability as he chased his lure. He taught people from all corners of the world that cheetahs were not to be feared or hated, but revered. He was one of a kind, and the entire staff of CCF is devastated by his death. RIP dear Chewbaaka.
Recently, when CCF’s keepers arrived at the pen of the Four Scientists (a group of four male cheetahs named Darwin, Fossey, Livingstone and Mendel) for their daily feeding, the cats were nowhere to be seen. This was HIGHLY unusual as the eager Scientists always are waiting at the gate for the feeding truck when it arrives. Concerned about the cats, we quickly drove into the 5-ha pen and began to search for them. We found them in the middle of one of the roads, and the reason for the Scientists absence was discovered. A young female kudu (a large antelope) had made the very poor decision to jump the fence into their enclosure and had been taken down by the four males.
Bite wounds around the kudu’s neck indicated that the boys had performed an efficient kill. This is very good news, considering that the four females who were in our rewilding bootcamp, Bellebenno, were recently released to their new home in a private reserve. Given their obvious hunting skills, the Scientists could be our next candidates for soft release into the Bellebenno game camp!
CCF's rewilding process involves moving a small, same-sex group of cheetahs into Bellebenno, where they can chase and bring down game. They are fed daily and monitored closely until they are feeding themselves consistently. After three or four months, the cats are radio-collared and moved to a wild area as far from livestock as possible. They spend a few days in a small enclosure so they can become acclimated to their new area, before being released. So far all the cheetahs that have gone through the rewilding process are doing very well.
As expensive as it is to keep a cheetah in capitivity, it's very costly to rewild one. Obviously though, we'd rather the cats were living in the wild. Your support not only helps us care for those cats that cannot be returned to the wild, but it also helps put captive cheetahs back into the wild and repopulate former range areas. Thank you!
On the same day that four formerly captive cheetahs were soft-released into CCF's game park to determine if they can learn to hunt, CCF took possession of four 2-month-old cubs. The cubs arrived in a beat-up cage; they were filthy and terrified. Cubs that young still need intensive care, and these quickly blossomed at CCF. They are now healthy and getting more confident every day. Luckily the four females who were soft-released have proven to be very adept at hunting and won't have to be returned to captivity at CCF. And while these four new cubs are incredibly cute, we'd prefer they were still out in the wild with their mother. CCF now has almost 60 cheetahs in its care, and we are very grateful for everyone's support.
After CCF's successful "rewilding" of seven captive cheetahs in Namibia in 2008/2009, we're ready to do it again. Recently four long-time cheetah residents at CCF--all female--were radio-collared and released into CCF's 4,000-hectare Bellebenno game camp. The camp is fenced but has plenty of prey for the cheetahs to hunt. The cheetahs will be fed daily to ensure they have the strength to hunt. Once they've proven they can bring down prey, they'll be released into a safe, unfenced area and monitored daily. As in Bellebenno, they will be fed regularly until they are consistently bringing down game on their own. Not all captive cheetahs are good candidates for release, and CCF is home to more than 50 cats. Thank you to everyone who has donated toward their care!
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