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
Jun 13, 2012

Dogs Protecting Goats to Save Cheetahs

Boer Goat
Boer Goat
Donate today, and tell your friends!  Today, June 13th, is a Globalgiving bonus day! Make a gift to CCF through Globalgiving today, and CCF will receive a 50% match!
The newest life at CCF does not purr and lick, nor does it bark or scratch.  These week-old creatures have disproportionately large ears, gangly and unsteady limbs, vast orb-like eyes, and tiny, pink cloven hooves.  When they aren’t sleeping or drinking milk from their protective mothers, they are gamboling and capering around their pen, attempting to butt heads or jump onto higher surfaces, and – spoiler alert – making the most heart-melting bahh-ing sounds.  CCF is happy to announce the birth of six indigenous Boer goat kids!
The six kids (5 females and 1 male) were born to three healthy Boer does.  There were no complications during any of the births and all mothers instinctively began to clean, feed, and examine their kids.  The kids all have white bodies and either milk or dark chocolate colored heads.  They are all spry and inquisitive, exploring and frolicking until they collapse into a pile and sleep.     
Though birth in the kraal is met with less fanfare than most cheetah news, it is in fact an illustration of what makes the Cheetah Conservation Fund an internationally recognized centre of excellence: CCF is committed to developing the best practices in education, land use and conservation to benefit all species, including humans.  CCF is dedicated to teaching and working with farmers harmoniously, as well as leading by example.  The livestock farm at CCF’s headquarters Namibia is a model farm used to exhibit techniques and practices by which livestock and wildlife can be properly managed, eliminating the need for farmers and ranchers to kill wild cheetah.  The kraal at CCF is currently home to Boer goats, Damara sheep, mixed-breeds of dairy goat, and the Anatolian shepherds and Kangal dogs who guard the flock both inside the kraal and out in the field. 

Boer goats were developed in South Africa in the early 1900’s for meat production and were therefore the logical choice of breed for this model Namibian farm.  CCF’s model farm exemplifies the predator-friendly livestock management techniques of establishing calving seasons, using calving kraals, having herders, and using dogs as livestock guardians, to name a few.  The success of the model farm demonstrates that wild cheetah can continue to live on Namibian farmland without hindering the farmers’ way of life or harming their livelihood.  CCF is encouraged that there is now far greater awareness of the cheetah's role in the ecosystem, and an increasing number of farmers adopt predator-friendly livestock management practices and fewer cheetahs are being killed.  While these new lives have started without ceremony or drama, as is the natural way, their healthy birth and their symbolic role in the Cheetah Conservation Fund is concomitantly a celebration of the prosperous future of the wild cheetah.

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May 11, 2012

Honor Your Mother and Kiri with a Gift Through Global Giving

Kangal puppy playing
Kangal puppy playing
You might remember that Kiri is a Kangal that gave birth to eight puppies on 31 January. She was bred to CCF’s Kangal Firat, who was kindly donated to us by French breeder Bonnie Blue Flag.
I met Kiri’s eight puppies during my visit to CCF a couple of weeks ago. I feel lucky to have met them because they were just about to be placed within a few days of my departure! They are beautiful, very healthy, and definitely a handful!!!
In late March, the puppies underwent their routine sterilization surgeries.  Only some of the puppies in the litter were sterilized since a few will go on to be future breeding animals for CCF’s livestock guarding dog program.  Our vet Gaby explained the procedure to me. “The puppies first received a full physical exam to ensure they are healthy enough for surgery.  Then they were anaesthetized, given oxygen and anaesthetic gas via an endotracheal tube, and attached to anaesthesia monitoring equipment like a temperature probe, an ECG, a pulse oximeter, and a blood pressure monitor, just like in a human hospital!  The puppies also have an IV catheter placed and receive IV fluids to keep them well hydrated during the surgery.  A microchip transponder is inserted under their skin for future identification, and blood samples are taken for genetic analysis and general health evaluation.”  All the procedures went well, and the puppies were back in the kraal with their mom in no time.
As Kiri does not belong to CCF, half of her litter went to her owners, who took two of the puppies to their farm and placed two with friends as working dogs.  Of the four CCF puppies from the litter, two were placed as working dogs, while a male and a female will be breeding dogs because their genetics are quite valuable. 
We wish all these puppies a happy and healthy life saving cheetahs!
Kangal puppy placed
Kangal puppy placed

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May 11, 2012

Mothering Cheetahs

Ambassodor Cheetahs
Ambassodor Cheetahs

Your Mother's Day Gift Through Global Giving, will help us nurture motherless cubs like the group formerly known as the OK Cubs (‘OK’ stands for Okakarara, where they were originally from).

Peter, Kaijay, Senay and Tiger Lily - cannot really be called cubs anymore. At almost 21 months old, these cheetahs are quickly becoming adults and are really stepping into their role as the Ambassadors of CCF. For those of you who are new to our blog, these four siblings arrived at CCF in 2010, when they were just three weeks old. Because they were so young, it was necessary to bottle-raise them, which led to the unique opportunity of raising cheetahs as ambassadors for their species. These ambassadors are an extremely important education tool for teaching the general public about the cheetah’s biology, conservation and threats. This task varies from meeting the general public on cheetah walks when they visit the CCF centre, to being brought out for farmers and school groups. Seeing cheetahs without a fence in between them and the cat allows people to form a more emotional connection with the animals and therefore sympathise more with their continuing struggle for existence.

 A great deal of time and energy has gone into the training of these four cheetahs in order to ensure that they become successful ambassadors. This training is an ongoing process that involves continued human contact, but they should never be thought of as pets. These cheetahs are, and should always remain, wild animals and should be respected as such.

 As ambassadors, the OK cats meet many influential people. For example, in January of this year, they met British High Commissioner, Marianne Young on her visit to CCF, as well as the Namibian Minister of Environment and the US Ambassador to Namibia. Additionally, another important part of the OK Ambassadors’ job is to meet school groups, both Namibians and internationals. For the kids, meeting a living, breathing cheetah up close can make a much more significant impact, and will hopefully help spark a passion for conservation as these children grow up.

 The OK Ambassadors even help educate people during their lunch hour! In January, they joined the ranks of the other cheetahs at CCF’s centre, which are fed daily for visitors to view. This is an important milestone in their training, as previously they were fed away from the public eye. They started eating with the other centre cats when their diet changed from two meals a day to one per day, like the other adult cheetahs at CCF. Feeding in front of visitors gives CCF the perfect opportunity to teach visitors about the cheetah’s diet, while they witness the cheetahs eating first hand.

 This April, the Ambassadors were anesthetized for their first annual medical work-ups. They had measurements taken, their teeth checked, and blood samples collected, among other things. Tiger Lily had a small growth just above her front right paw that was removed and sent to the lab for identification (more information on this on our 27 April 2012 blog). The procedure went well, and has been healing nicely. Peter and Kaijay were given contraceptive implants, so that as they mature, all four ambassadors can still be kept together. 

 Usually, when the Ambassadors go on walks around the centre, we make a stop at the clinic to weigh them. This has allowed us to consistently measure their growth. Unfortunately, our walk-on scale malfunctioned a couple months back and so we haven’t been able to see how they have been growing since the beginning of the year. However, we took the opportunity to weigh them while they were anesthetized for their annuals earlier this month. Peter was the biggest, weighing in at 41 kg! The ambassadors are unlikely to grow much bigger in height, but will continue to gain weight over the coming months. Peter and Kaijay may reach close to 50 kg, while Senay and Tiger Lily will likely reach their mature weight around 42-45 kg.

 In order to maintain the Ambassadors’ fitness, we try to exercise them on the lure system at least once per week – an activity open to the public. Currently, they are some of our best runners, and continue to impress visitors and staff alike.

 We shall continue to update you on their progress as the very important role of Ambassadors of their species.

Ambassodors Visit School
Ambassodors Visit School

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