Apply to Join

Feed Orphan Cheetahs in Namibia

by Cheetah Conservation Fund
Play Video
Feed Orphan Cheetahs in Namibia
Feed Orphan Cheetahs in Namibia
Feed Orphan Cheetahs in Namibia
Feed Orphan Cheetahs in Namibia
Feed Orphan Cheetahs in Namibia
Feed Orphan Cheetahs in Namibia
Feed Orphan Cheetahs in Namibia
Feed Orphan Cheetahs in Namibia
Feed Orphan Cheetahs in Namibia
Feed Orphan Cheetahs in Namibia
Feed Orphan Cheetahs in Namibia
Sedated Male Cheetah with CCF Staff
Sedated Male Cheetah with CCF Staff

Otjiwarongo, NAMIBIA (18 May 2020) – For the core team of ecologists, animal care, and biomedical staff living in voluntary isolation at the CCF Field Research & Education Centre in Otjiwarongo, Namibia, the daily business of saving wild cheetahs carries on. On 5 May, the first calls from a local farmer were made to the Farmer Helpline at CCF East - Carnivore Conflict Field Station requesting assistance with two cheetahs in a capture cage at a game camp. CCF immediately contacted the Namibian Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT). With COVID-19 lockdowns, CCF staff could not travel to the farm to collect the cheetahs. Responding quickly, two MEFT Rangers collected the cheetahs from the farm and brought them to the CCF Centre.

Functioning with only about half of its 25-person team, the CCF cheetah scientists conducted comprehensive health examinations of the two cheetahs. Working at a more deliberate pace and wearing masks to cover their noses and mouths, the team checked the animals from head to toe for signs of injuries or chronic health issues. They weighed and measured the animals, drew blood and tissue samples, and photographed each cat. Although this activity has taken place hundreds of times over the past three decades at CCF, it has never happened during a pandemic.

"The procedures went very smoothly, thanks to our well-trained team. The two adult male cheetahs were trapped on a game farm and were in excellent condition. They will be fitted with satellite-radio collars and released back into the wild as soon as a suitable place is determined, likely before the end of this month," said Dr Laurie Marker, CCF Founder and Executive Director. "I am very happy to report both males are very healthy, and big – 45 kg and 47 kg – and they were exhibiting normal cheetah hunting behaviours by seeking wild game prey. Given that male cheetahs form coalitions with male siblings and live together for life, it is likely these two are brothers. The collars will enable our team to monitor the cats’ movement and respond if there is a problem, increasing their chances for survival".

Under the leadership of Dr Laurie Marker, CCF’s research team focuses on the biology, ecology and conservation strategies of the cheetah. The team has tagged and released more than 650 cheetahs back into the wild and radio-tracked more than 60 during a 15-year study, both scientific firsts. CCF has collected, stored and analyzed biological samples from more than 1,000 cheetahs, resulting in one of the largest databases for any threatened species.

"I can’t thank our team enough for the work they are doing everyday through this difficult time. It is always very exciting to help rescue and return cheetahs back into the wild, onto the landscape they belong in. This is why Cheetah Conservation Fund exists. I am so grateful we can continue our mission through this difficult time. I would like to thank our donors for supporting CCF during this unprecedented crisis", said Dr Marker.

CCF Staff assist in medical check
CCF Staff assist in medical check
Dr. Marker and CCF Staff collecting samples
Dr. Marker and CCF Staff collecting samples

Links:

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Georgia
Georgia

Kamin and Elwood

Sadly, in early September 2019 Elwood was found dead and Kamin severely injured. Based on the injuries and signs from the area, it seems that they were attacked by lions and while Elwood was killed almost immediately, Kamin managed to escape and survive. Based on their GPS collar data, it seems the two males were walking through a relatively thick area of bush and stumbled into the lionesses in the very early morning.

CCF’s team travelled to Erindi to check on Kamin and to assess and treat his injuries. Kamin was covered in puncture wounds from bites, consistent with the initial assessment of the event. Many of the wounds were very infected, but luckily all of his vital organs were fully intact and there was no sign of any broken bones. He was treated by CCF’s veterinarian and then the team moved him into a holding boma for recovery. With the severity of his injuries, Kamin would not have been able to run away from any other dangerous predator and therefore recovery in the boma was a much safer and secure option for him.

After about a month and a half in the boma, Kamin has made an incredible and complete recovery and in early November was released from his holding boma. The following week, he was darted again by CCF’s team to change a collar and the only remaining sign of his injuries from the lion attack was some slight scarring. In the afternoon of this collar change procedure, Kamin made a successful kill on his own. Despite the loss of his last remaining coalition mate, we have very high hopes for Kamin’s success on his own in Erindi.

Miers

From the middle of 2019, Miers began to struggle to hunt and started to once again require supplemental feeding from Erindi’s monitoring team. We began to keep a closer eye on Miers and noticed that he would go up in down in regard to his hunting success. Somedays he would be found doing well and others not so well. At one point, Miers was found with some superficial puncture wounds making it appear as if he had been in a fight with another predator. After this point, Miers again began to improve in his hunting attempts and seemed to be on the mend.

However, in early November he was found in a very bad state and had many more fresh wounds. Based on his GPS collar data and from animal sightings within the reserve, it seems that Miers had been fighting with a coalition of two male cheetahs over the area in Erindi known as Vlei. Though Miers is a very large and impressive male cheetah, in this case he clearly did not fair well on his own against this other male coalition.

Following this attack, CCF’s team darted Miers so that the veterinarian could treat his wounds. Upon closer examination, his wounds are consistent with our assumption that he was fighting other males. Additionally, the veterinarian found that he had broken his back-right foot at some point, but that it had now healed fully. This broken foot is likely the reason behind his starting to struggle to hunt successfully earlier in the year.

After his treatment, Mier’s was also moved to a holding boma to ensure he’s fully recovered before being released again. Despite his injuries, we believe that he will make a full recovery and are planning to release him towards the end of the year.

Daenerys, Georgia, and Tatjana

Daenerys is still living solo in the south western part of Erindi. She still requires supplemental feeding from time to time, but the frequency of these feedings has started to decline, indicating that she is starting to hunt successfully on her own. Daenerys has become comfortable in this area of the reserve and doesn’t often venture far from her newly established home-range. While she’s had a slow start, we believe that she’s well on her way to complete independence within Erindi.

Georgia and Tatjana are still living together in the northern area of the reserve and have become favorites amongst Erindi staff. Often referred to by Erindi staff as ‘G&T’, the females seem to be very happy living together in this female coalition, even though female coalitions do not occur normally in the wild. Similar to Daenerys, Georgia and Tatjana have required less frequent supplemental feeding and we also have high hopes for them reaching independence within Erindi.

Savanna

Savanna and her two surviving male cubs are still performing exceptionally well with Erindi. This family has never required assistance from humans, and the two male cubs are fast approaching the time when they will leave their mother and venture out on their own within Erindi.

In the wild, male cheetahs will form a coalition with their brother(s). By remaining together for life, male cheetahs improve their chances of survival because it’s always better to have more sets of eyes and ears watching out for danger when living in an area with other dangerous predators in abundance. Additionally, males will collaborate on hunts thereby maximizing their chances of making a successful kill.

Though cheetahs are never safe from the dangers of a wildlife, we have extremely high hopes for these two males and are very much looking forward to seeing how they do once they leave their mother.

Kamin's Injuries
Kamin's Injuries
Kamin's injuries healed
Kamin's injuries healed
Miers after his treatment
Miers after his treatment
Tatjana
Tatjana
Staff and Kamin
Staff and Kamin
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Laurie in Somoliland
Laurie in Somoliland

Laurie Marker has been touring the United States on her CCF Fall Tour since September and is soon headed back to Somaliland to guide our efforts in fighting the illegal pet trade in cheetahs. Hopefully you saw our exclusive feature on CNN that was also shown on PBS Amanpour & Company on August 16th. Laurie is glad to have the resources and support of conservation NGOs, zoos, and veterinary volunteers who have stepped forward with donated funds, supplies and their time to assist the crisis caused by this illegal wildlife trade in cheetah cub. 

As a conservation scientist and cheetah researcher in Africa, Laurie has witnessed how human action threatens the cheetah. She has also had revelations throughout her 45-year career that change the way she looks at threats to the species. These revelations inspire evolutions of thought and help her decide the best possible strategies to counter. Because of what she has learned in the Horn of Africa this past year, she has a new perspective on the problem of illegal wildlife trade. 

First, the cheetah trafficking threat in the Horn of Africa has reached crisis status. Each year, an estimated 300 cubs are illegally snatched from the landscape, taken from their mothers in Ethiopia, northern Kenya, Somalia and Somaliland, the semi-autonomous, northern region of Somalia, to supply the illegal pet trade. The demand for cubs comes mainly from the wealthier classes. In countries on the Arabian Peninsula, just a short trip across the Gulf of Aden, pet cheetahs are status symbols to display the wealth – like luxury cars.

Second, the reproducing adult cheetah population in these same areas of Africa is estimated at less than 500. Already fragmented and vulnerable, these tiny populations are at risk of being lost due to the illegal wildlife trade in the next few years. The number of cubs being poached is simply not sustainable.

In 2005, Laurie first became aware of the illegal pet trade, informed about a pair of cheetah cubs being held in a rural village in Ethiopia. They were tied to a fence, and villagers were throwing rocks at them. CCF helped arrange for their confiscation, working closely with the Ethiopian wildlife department, and found placement. For the next six years, we monitored reports of activity related to the trade and worked with governments in the Horn of Africa on this issue. This led to a relationship with several of these countries, including the government of Somaliland.

Because of its geographical location, Somaliland is the preferred entry point for traffickers into the Arabian Peninsula. Although not officially recognized as a country, Somaliland has its own democratically elected government, its own currency, and has operated as an independent nation for 28 years. As such, Somaliland is one of the safest, most stable places in the Horn of Africa. It also has the most progressively-minded government.

In 2011, CCF began working with the Ministry of Environment and Rural Development (MoERD) of the Republic of Somaliland, managing the disposition of cheetahs recovered by their Wildlife Officers. For the next five years, CCF arranged for confiscated cats to go to sanctuaries in Ethiopia or Djibouti. But in 2016, Somaliland law changed, and the government required all animals to remain within its borders. Around this time, CCF began training MoERD Wildlife Officers in cheetah handling, and together, we created a facility to manage confiscated cheetah cubs in Hargeisa, the capital city. Currently, CCF has 30 cheetah cubs in its care in two facilities.

Since September 2018, Laurie has made several trips back to Somaliland. What she has seen reminds her much of Namibia, 30 years ago, when she first set up CCF. When she arrived, Namibia was shedding its identity as South West Africa, emerging from the shadows of South African apartheid and struggling for recognition as an independent nation. The landscape was scarred from civil war, encroached by thorn bush from overgrazing by livestock and years of drought. Cheetah populations were on the decline. Namibian farmers were shooting cheetahs as a real and perceived threat to their livestock. But miraculously, the new Namibian government recognized the value in protecting its natural resources and made conservation a constitutional mandate. Because of this, and because of the work of CCF, and because of supporters like yourself, the Namibian cheetah population has stabilized. People come from all over the world to visit Namibia, the “Cheetah Capital of the World.” With the positive attitude of the Somaliland government, and the determination of CCF and our loyal supporters, CCF believes we can successfully replicate this model and protect the cheetahs in the Horn of Africa.

A century ago, Somaliland was covered in lush greenery and full of wild species. But today, the landscape is brown and barren. Climate change, poor landscape management and civil war have resulted in a long drought and famine that has impacted people, livestock and wildlife. One of the early revelations Laurie had in her career was the realization that to help wildlife, you must first help the people who live alongside animals. In Somaliland, rural pastoralists and agriculturalists make up about 25% of the population. CCF’s programs are so important because we work with entire landscapes and the communities living alongside predators. It is not just the cheetahs who desperately need our help, but the people, too!

The final revelation: Future Farmers of Africa and Future Conservationists of Africa are the two CCF programs that will be adapted and scaled to be of great benefit in Somaliland and other parts of East Africa. Just like in Namibia, solving the cheetah conservation crisis involves addressing a complex web of social, economic and environmental issues. Bringing back balance to the landscape, encouraging coexistence among rural livestock farming communities, developing livelihoods and educating the next generation of leaders is how we will help Somaliland. It is how we will help cheetahs in the Horn of Africa rebound and stabilize.

If CCF does not address the illegal pet trade, who will? Please help us stop the illegal pet trade before cheetah populations in the Horn of Africa are lost.

Cheetah Cub in Somaliland
Cheetah Cub in Somaliland
Cheetah Cub in Somaliland eating
Cheetah Cub in Somaliland eating
Neju Jimmy, Dr. Margarita Woc Colburn & Dr. Marker
Neju Jimmy, Dr. Margarita Woc Colburn & Dr. Marker

Links:

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Animal Adventure Park Presenting Check to CCF
Animal Adventure Park Presenting Check to CCF

The only thing chilly and rainy on Sunday at the Animal Adventure Park (AAP) in New York was the weather. Spirits were bright and shiny when AAP’s Owner, Jordan Patch presented Cheetah Conservation Fund’s Director of Finance and Operations, Beth Fellenstein, with a generous donation of $30,000. Animal Adventure Park opened in 2013, and in the span of seven years it has become known worldwide for its superstar animal ambassador, April the Giraffe. Animal Adventure Park has been able to successfully leverage the online fame of April to collect funds which they use to support giraffe conservation projects. CCF was chosen to receive the gift of funding from the zoo’s “Name The Calf” campaign.

The presentation started with an introduction of CCF’s work to park guests and local media. Jordan rhetorically asked the crowd, “Cheetahs… Giraffes… How does that make sense?”. In a press release about the donation earlier this week Jordan stated “It’s our great pleasure to help support the outstanding work of the Cheetah Conservation Fund, and to have the opportunity to continue to impact the future of this beautiful species in a positive and meaningful way.” Jordan talks about the zoo's support of CCF in this video Link:  https://youtu.be/nrbPXHuD4Uk

What most people don’t know about CCF’s work is what our Founder and Executive Director Dr. Laurie Marker realized in the late 1970’s. In order to save one species, the entire ecosystem upon which that species lives has to be taken into account. CCF’s holistic approach helps not only the cheetah, but other wildlife like the giraffe and also the people who share the landscape.

In Namibia, CCF monitors the populations of all the wildlife regionally, with key focus on the areas in and around the Greater Waterberg Landscape. With annual waterhole counts and camera traps, CCF has been able to log information on giraffes since 2003. Elizabeth Pius is now working at CCF and completing her honours degree at Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST). She is currently managing the research project regarding giraffe population on CCF’s land. This study will help determine the carrying capacity, as well as help researchers and farm managers understand giraffe distribution and social structures.

 

Elizabeth Pius Giraffe Study
Elizabeth Pius Giraffe Study

Links:

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
Dominic and Laurie Marker
Dominic and Laurie Marker

April 3rd is our young cheetah cub, Dominic’s first birthday. He has grown into a beautiful young cheetah. This is a significant day for many other reasons too. On April 3rd, 1991, I arrived in Namibia, moving permanently from the USA with 16 crates full of research equipment, 4 suitcases and my 2 dogs. Then, 25 years later, Chewbaaka a cub I raised from an age as young as Dominic, and our very special CCF Namibia Ambassador, died. April 3rd is a day that gives me pause every year and it’s special now because it’s Dominic’s birthday.

For those of you that have followed the story of CCF’s orphan cub Dominic, April 3, 2019 now marks a special day for his keepers and him as he is turning 1 year old! Dominic came to CCF in April 2018, he was taken in by a lady who’s farm workers had found a man holding him alongside the dirt road asking to sell him. He said he had seen the other cubs and his mother…. The story is very sketchy. The farm workers though knew this was not right and confiscated the cub and gave it to the farms’ teacher, a woman who had a deep care for wildlife.

But, cheetahs are very difficult to care for and unfortunately, she did not have the right facilities or diet to look after him. He became lethargic and unwell after a couple of days. She called the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) who immediately called CCF. One of our staff, Nadja, was able to pick him up from the woman and brought him to the closest veterinary clinic in Windhoek. After being given sub-q fluids and a careful health check, the next day he was taken to CCF.

A cub as young as Dominic, approximately 10 days old, needed 24hr care and attention. At his young age, Dominic had to be bottle fed 24 -hours a day and was cared for round the clock by CCF’s dedicated staff, Lara and Becky and Dr. Robin. However, due to this high amount of human contact he received during his infancy, he is not a candidate for released back into the wild and will remain at CCF as a resident ambassador for his lifetime, as did Chewbaaka, and a some of CCF’s other resident cheetahs. Lara, Becky, Lauren, Bruce and I have been Dominic’s main caretakers from infancy until now.

Lora and Becky, CCF’s cheetah keepers, share this story of how Dominic is doing today.

The first 6 months, Dominic was just around the other cheetahs in the nursery area, where he could see all the adult resident cheetahs at the Centre. When Dominic was about six months old he was introduced to a young female cheetah, Sasha, who is about six months older, and they have been living together ever since. It was a perfect fit for Dominic as he needed a young cheetah companion to help him learn to live with other cheetahs and to learn about cheetah life. The two of them have done quite well together and as of late, Dominic has been soliciting chase and play behaviour with Sasha.

Two weeks ago, another young cheetah named Savannah was confiscated and brought to CCF. She is a similar age and temperament to Dominic and Sasha, so we decided they should meet. Initially, Dominic was more interested in us, his keepers, until he noticed the new female in his enclosure, to which he walked over cautiously and gave a small hiss. Savannah hissed back and their friendship has blossomed from there. After spending more time together, they can be found playing with boomer balls which we use to encourage exercise. They also spend time watching the young antelope that come and drink from the waterhole opposite their enclosure. They are still trying to figure out each other’s boundaries and Dominic always chirps loudly to let Savannah her know how close she can come to him. Dominic is very vocal, from purring to his keepers to chirping to the other cheetahs.

Over the past couple months Dominic has lost his baby teeth and has all his adult teeth now. Just like with human babies, Dominic needed extra care during teething. We would give him blood ice blocks to soothe his mouth and help with inflammation, as this is a very rough time for cubs.

Dominic has also continued to grow, he is now about 2/3rd of his adult weight. He currently weighs just over 25kg which is a far stretch from the 800g he weighed when he first arrived.

Dominic is now perfectly spoon trained as well. This involves taking treats gently from a long handled, purpose-built spoon that has a meat reward in it. It is important for him to learn this skill, as the spoon is often used to help medicate our cheetahs. The ‘spoon’ also acts as a ‘target’, so he can be manoeuvred to different areas when necessary, like asking him to move from pen to pen. Since learning that the spoon will reward him with treats, if we are not quick enough to reward him, he will make his classic loud chirp noise to let us know they’re not being fast enough for him!

As a cheetah, exercise is very important. Dominic has also learned how to run on our mechanical lure course, to keep him in good health. This is where we encourage him to chase a rag that is being pulled along fast by our mechanical lure. On he catches it, he then receives a meat reward on the spoon (his favourite is heart). It is important that we exercise him as he does not hunt for himself. Not only is it good for his physical health but also his mental health. He always gets very excited when he is moved in to the run pen as he gets to engage in play, positive interaction and bonding time with us, his keepers. Dominic likes to run as fast as possible using all his energy in one go unlike the other cheetah that pace themselves. He’s still learning about and perfecting his running skills and is working on the pesky corners of the lure course that he misjudges and takes very wide.

Dominic is a very independent and vocal cheetah. He has no qualms in making his voice heard as loud as possible to attract our attention in case we have extra treats for him! He interacts with other cheetahs the same way, even though he is small in stature he has a very loud voice and likes to make himself heard. If anyone approaches him through the fence, staff, interns or guests, he will always purr as loud as possible! Happy First Birthday, Dominic!!

 

 

Dominic enjoying a soothing ice block
Dominic enjoying a soothing ice block

Links:

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook
 

About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

Cheetah Conservation Fund

Location: Alexandria, VA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @Cheetah Conservation
Project Leader:
Beth Fellenstein
Dr.
Otjiwarongo, Namibia
$56,315 raised of $65,000 goal
 
882 donations
$8,685 to go
Donate Now Add Project to Favorites

Help raise money!

Support this important cause by creating a personalized fundraising page.

Start a Fundraiser

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence

Snorkeler
Our
Impact

Woman Holding a Gift Card
Give
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle
GlobalGiving
Guarantee

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.