Cheetah Conservation Fund

To be the internationally recognized centre of excellence in the conservation of cheetahs and their ecosystems. CCF will work with all stakeholders to develop best practices in research, education, and land use to benefit all species, including people. CCF works to: create and manage long-term conservation strategies for the cheetah; develop and implement livestock management practices that eliminate the need for ranchers to kill cheetah; conduct education programs for locals; continue research in genetics, biology, species survival
Sep 6, 2016

Learn how dogs are helping us save cheetahs

Welcome our new puppy, Bolt!
Welcome our new puppy, Bolt!

Please help us welcome Bolt, the newest addition to CCF's Livestock Guarding Dog Breeding Program! This little guy, who is 11 weeks old, came to CCF from Taylor Farm in Texas, USA.  Bolt is being welcomed by Hercules our Livestock Guarding Dog ambassador (on the right) in the photo above.

The mother and father of this puppy are both originally from Turkey, meaning new bloodlines can be added to our breeding colony! The puppy had a long journey over to Namibia, but was a very well behaved boy throughout the trip. He is already making friends with the other breeding dogs at CCF and seems to be enjoying his new home. 

CCF's renowned Livestock Guarding Dog Program has beeen highly effective at reducing predation rates and thereby reducing the inclination by farmers to trap or shoot cheetahs. 

CCF has been placing dogs since 1994 and our research shows that dogs are highly effective, reducing livestock loss from all predators by over 80 and up to 100 percent.  Farmers adopt CCF dogs and participate in education on how to train the dog. CCF does on site follow up visits to ensure the dogs have proper training and medical care, and are settling into their guardian role. Farmers have enthusistically embraced the program, and there is now a two year waiting list for puppies, which makes Bolt's role even more important to CCF's Livestock Guarding Dog Breeding Progam.

Bolt getting used to his new comforts of home
Bolt getting used to his new comforts of home
Livestock Guarding Dog Program in Action
Livestock Guarding Dog Program in Action

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Jun 9, 2016

Lady's Ultrasound - New Puppies on the Way

Puppies are on the way!
Puppies are on the way!

Lady’s Ultrasound – New Puppies on the Way

Today the vet team (Andrew DiSalvo, Emma Alfonso, and Liz Wood) performed an abdominal ultrasound on Lady, one of our Anatolian Shepherd dogs. We use ultrasound as a tool to detect pregnancy, and today’s results show that she is pregnant with her first litter! The gestation period (pregnancy length) in a dog is 63 days. Abdominal ultrasound can be used to detect pregnancy in a female dog as early as 20-25 days of gestation. Ultrasound provides a non-invasive way to check for pregnancy; gel is applied to the animal’s fur and skin to ensure good contact with the ultrasound probe, and an image of the structures beneath the skin appear on a screen as the probe is moved by the veterinarian. While Lady is in the early stages of her pregnancy, an embryo was visible today (the white dot on the ultrasound machine picture). We will recheck her again in a few weeks to see if her pregnancy is still on a healthy path.

Here at CCF, we breed Anatolian Shepherds and Kangal dogs as part of our Livestock Guarding Dog programme. These dogs are used by Namibian farmers to protect their livestock, thereby reducing livestock predation by local carnivores. This also reduces the conflict between farmers and cheetahs, which can help save the lives of wild cheetahs and other carnivores. This program plays an essential role in cheetah conservation, by addressing the concerns of local farmers and eliciting their help in protecting the wild cheetah.

We are very excited to have puppies at CCF soon! Congratulations, Lady!

 

Lady’s Pregnancy – Almost There!

At 45 days in to a dog’s pregnancy the bones of the puppies begin to calcify, meaning you can see the puppies on an X-ray. Below you can see some X-rays that were taken of our pregnant Anatolian, Lady, to allow us to get an estimate of how many puppies she will have. We believe we could see 7-8 puppies on the X-ray. However, this is never an exact number, but it allows us to be more prepared and make sure no issues occur during her pregnancy.

Lady will have her first litter in the next couple of days. At 9 weeks old these puppies will then be placed with Namibian farmers to begin their training in guarding the farmer’s livestock against predation. Research shows that these dogs have helped farmers see an 80-100% reduction in their livestock losses which is beneficial to the farmer’s livelihood and to the predator population. Everyone at CCF is super excited for more puppies so we can help more farmers as there is quite the demand for these guarding dogs!

See the embryo above, its the white dot
See the embryo above, its the white dot
Lady gets her ultrasound from the veterinarian
Lady gets her ultrasound from the veterinarian
X-Ray of Ladies Puppies
X-Ray of Ladies Puppies

Links:

Jun 9, 2016

Zinzi Update and more! Cub Sighting and Eye Injury

Zinzi
Zinzi's Cub

Zinzi Update – Cub Sighting and Eye Injury


Unfortunately for us, Zinzi’s collar failed in April and we lost track of her and her cubs for a few weeks. The only information we had on her during this time was visual sightings by a neighboring lodge. The couple of times that she was seen by the lodge staff, they only saw three of her four cubs. From this information we had assumed that she likely had lost one of the cubs which is statistically common in cheetahs.


Then in a turn of luck, two Sundays ago another neighbor saw two young cheetahs around one of his waterholes and notified us. We went over to his property right away to have a look and found Zinzi! We immediately mobilized a team at CCF who met us in the field where we darted Zinzi and changed her collar. We tried to capture the cubs using Zinzi to tempt them out of hiding, but Zinzi was too clever and never called to them. We did not catch any of the cubs but we did get a glimpse of them and some photos later.


As soon as we let Zinzi go she immediately started calling and searching for her cubs and kept it up for five minutes afterwards! We put out a large chunk of meat for Zinzi, and our neighbor put up a camera trap at the meat. We were able to get images of all four of Zinzi’s cubs using the camera traps!!!! (see top image) This was unexpected so you can imagine how excited we were to learn of this. We later got a visual on all four cubs together with Zinzi and they all look to be in great condition!


We do have one concern with Zinzi at the moment. Her left eye is injured and sight in that eye has become compromised. We are not sure of the extent of blindness in the injured eye, but it seems there is a chance it could heal, so we are hopeful.

Cheetah Transfer: The Scientists


Back in September of 2014, CCFs coalition of male cheetahs nicknamed ‘the Scientists’ made the move to a guest lodge near Windhoek, called Kiripotib. Since this group is non-releasable back to the wild, this was a good alternative where they would have plenty of natural space and receive lots of care and attention.

At the end of February 2016 CCF received a call from the lodge letting us know that Mendel, one of the males, didn’t seem himself and was refusing food. CCF sent a team down to the lodge to assess Mendel’s condition and it was decided to bring him back to CCF for further testing. CCF anesthetized Mendel upon arrival at the Centre and took blood samples, along with checking his overall condition. It was found from his blood results that he may be suffering from acute renal failure. At his age of ten years old, this is not unheard of, as many older cats suffer from renal issues. Since his renal failure was most likely not chronic, the decision was made to treat Mendel with fluid therapy and see if this improved his condition. After several days of training, Mendel became comfortable enough to eat his meals in a small cage where keepers were able to administer subcutaneous fluids while he ate several times a week. This seemed to improve his overall condition and demeanor and he has seemed healthier every day. However, there was still something missing.

Mendel, being a member of a male coalition, is very bonded to cheetahs Fossey, Livingstone and Darwin. The four had never spent any time apart up until Mendels’ treatments. The decision was made to reunite the group at CCF, since Mendel will continue to require regular medical treatments that CCF is equipped to give. Since CCF was also home to a group of four non-releasable females, Bella, Padme, Kayla and Kiana, those four females would make the move down to the lodge and the males would return to CCF, in a grand ‘cheetah swap’. The living situation at Kiripotib is ideal for the females because of their pen layout; Kayla and Kiana would be able to have their own living space separate from Bella and Padme, relieving the tension that the two groups of females traditionally expressed towards each other.

CCF keepers’ first step was to capture the four females in crates and load them into a van for the six hour drive down to the lodge. Kayla and Kiana seemed particularly suspicious, so a lot of training in the weeks prior to the move was necessary to keep things running smoothly. All were quickly captured the morning of the move and off the team went, four cheetahs in tow. By the time the vehicles arrived at the lodge, it was evening and the sun had just set. The females were taken to their new enclosure and, once the males were moved into a small separate area, let out to explore. Although slightly confused at the change of scenery, all four females showed interest in their surroundings and especially the unfamiliar males in the adjacent pen. Kayla and Kiana had originally arrived at CCF with the Scientists in 2007, and although perhaps unknowingly, the original six were briefly reunited.


The following morning as the sun came up, the CCF team arrived at the cheetah pens to see how the females were adjusting to their new surroundings and to the capture the three remaining Scientists, Fossey, Livingston and Darwin for the second half of the move. The females, although cautious, approached their keepers for food. Kayla and Kiana didn’t leave each others’ sides, taking turns keeping watch diligently. When it came to the capture of the three males, they proved to be extremely food motivated and were quite cooperative.


Once all three males were captured without incidence, the van was loaded up, and the females checked on last time, the CCF staff headed back to CCF to reintroduce all four coalition-mates. After the journey, Fossey Livingstone and Darwin were released into a large pen adjacent to Mendel’s pen, so they could have a chance to adjust and familiarize themselves with Mendel again before the reunion. They adjusted to their new pen almost immediately, the made it theirs by scent marking every tree.

Reports from Kiripotib tell CCF that the females are adjusting well and seem to be enjoying their larger space, although they possess a stubborn streak that the males seem to lack. Although CCF misses the females, stubborn streak and all, it is nice to know that they are enjoying their new space.


Although the group dynamic has changed since Mendels separation, with Fossey and Livingstone claiming dominance of the group in Mendels absence, the four reunited without major incident and Mendels’ frequent purrs of contentment demonstrate that the reunion was a success. Mendel can now continue his treatments alongside the cheetahs that have been his lifelong companions.

Camera trap photo showing Zinzi and her cubs
Camera trap photo showing Zinzi and her cubs
Zinzi
Zinzi's old cracked collar, and newly fitted
Padme blending in to her new enclosure
Padme blending in to her new enclosure
CCF staff capturing Darwin for the transfer
CCF staff capturing Darwin for the transfer
All four together on a cold morning
All four together on a cold morning

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