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
Oct 1, 2013

CCF visits the Klein Karas Community

Entrance
Entrance
Back in June, a group from the Klein Karas Community in southern Namibia spent three days with us here at the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) to learn about integrated livestock management and alternative livelihoods. The Klein Karas Community is located in the Greater Fish River Canyon Landscape and is the only rural community in this area. Whilst at CCF, the group learned how to identify predators, how to manage their livestock to reduce conflict, and also about our organic garden and goat milk production.
Their visit was funded by The Namibia Protected Landscape Conservation Areas Initiative (NAM-PLACE), which is a five year project established by The Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET), with co-financing from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as the Implementing Agency.

The week following their training visit my colleagues, Tyapa and Chavoux, made the long drive south to deliver a livestock guarding dog puppy and two milk goat bucks to further benefit their project. And now it was time for the follow up visit to check everything was going well and the animals were fit and healthy.
At 5am Tyapa and I pulled out of the gates of CCF to start our journey. It’s close to 1000km each way so this early start was indeed necessary. I have to say the stop for coffee in Otjiwarongo was very welcome indeed. By taking it in turns to drive we covered the distance quite easily but we did arrive after dark. A hot shower, some food and a good night’s sleep were in order before our visit to the community the next day
We met with Josef Swartbooi who looks after the livestock guarding dog puppy and who is also one of the community leaders. He said they were very happy with the dogs’ progress and felt he was a great addition to the herd. The puppy was clearly very well looked after and had bonded extremely well with the goats he was growing to protect. Everywhere they went, he followed, with his tail in the air and with a jaunty little step. I think he will grow to be a fine guarding dog for the community goat herds.
We also had a chance to catch up with the breeding dairy goat bucks who have definitely grown in the past few weeks. They were happy to come over for a stroke and looked in fine condition. They have not yet been used to breed with the females but this should happen in the next month or so.
Overall, we had a great visit. This whole area is beautiful and so very different to the north of Nambia. I look forward to our next follow up visit in October when we hope to meet with the elders and more members of the community to work out how we can further assist them with their development plans

Klein Karas 2
Klein Karas 2
Guarding Dog
Guarding Dog
Working with the herd
Working with the herd

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Jul 8, 2013

Puppy day for Kiri's Litter

Kiri
Kiri's puppies

Kiri's litter of eight Kangal puppies born on 31.  It's almost time for CCF's puppies to be placed with Namibian farmers to begin their work as Livestock Guarding Dogs. Kiri's litter is getting ready for Puppy Day!  On this day, farmers will receive their new guarding dog.

Farmers who receive a CCF dog must go through training to learn how to utilize the dog effectively with their herd, and we visit the dogs after placement to ensure that they are doing well in their new homes. The dogs and the farmers are usually very successful!

Over 100 Livestock Guarding Dogs currently working with Namibian Farmers. Farmers using a CCF dog see their predation rates go down from all predators by over 80 percent.

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Jul 8, 2013

Keeping an Eye on Amani

Amani 1
Amani 1

Caring for resident cheetahs often requires more than just routine feeding.

About seven months ago, one of CCF’s resident non-releasable cheetahs, Amani, developed a corneal lesion on her right eye: a cloudy area with a white speck barely visible. Initially the condition did not seem to irritate her, and we really could not train a wild cheetah to take eye drops!  However, by late January 2013 the eye dramatically worsened, and the lesion progressed into a corneal ulcer. The eye began to tear excessively, and her nictitating membrane (a translucent third eyelid cheetahs have for moisture and protection) was raised, causing her to squint constantly --an indication of eye pain.

Amani thus began a series of anaesthesias. The first was to perform surgery -- suturing the nictitating membrane to the inside of the upper eyelid, thus forming a protective layer of tissue over the damaged cornea.  The surgery, performed by CCF’s veterinarian, Amelia Zakiewicz, went without complications.

Amani was anaesthesised three more times over the next couple months to assess her progress, with the sutures redone each time to allow healing to continue. By the end of February, it was clear that the surgery had not worked. The ulcer was healing too slowly.  We did a new procedure, called a conjunctival flap surgery. This two-hour long surgery involved suturing the membrane lining inside of eyelids directly to the cornea. Another eyelid flap was performed to further protect the ulcer and sutures.

On 8 April Amani was again anaesthetised to assess the conjunctival flap surgery.  The ulcer had improved, but a prolapse had occurred -- the iris had migrated into the ulcer to plug the defect. We were not pleased with this prognosis but monitor how the condition and see how it developed. However, the situation continued to deteriorate and therefore, on 22 April, after further assessment, we decided to remove her right eye, thus reducing her discomfort.

After almost three months, Amani has adapted to seeing with one eye and is capable of focusing on fences, feeding bowls and even meat treats thrown in her general direction.  She is one of the best runners in her camp and is still chasing CCF’s feeding vehicle.  She does not miss a thing!  Amani is completely off all pain-related medications and now receives only a daily Omega-3 capsule. She recovered flawlessly from the surgery; however her eye has taken on the expected sunken appearance.  We all wish Amani well, and hope that the coming months will be less problematic for her.

Amani 2
Amani 2

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