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Feed Orphan Cheetahs in Namibia

by Cheetah Conservation Fund
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

CCF has worked for two decades to teach farmers to coexist with cheetahs—and those efforts are paying dividends. A while back a livestock farmer became alarmed by the presence of a cheetah we later dubbed Wild Mumand her two cubs near his livestock kraal. Rather than killing them on site, the farmer trapped them and contacted CCF. A medical exam at our vet clinic revealed that Wild Mum had a badly infected broken tooth, which more than likely was why she had resorted to killing livestock insteadof wildlife. We had Wild Mum’s tooth repaired and fitted her with a satellite collar programmed to automatically drop off in five months. Then, Mum and her cubs were released on an unfenced portion of CCF’s property. When we knew the collar had dropped off, we wentto locate the collar. To our surprise, we sighted Wild Mum and found a new litter of three young cubs hidden securely in a bush. Her previous cubs must have struck out on their own, as all eventually do.  We hoped to be able to keep track of the cubs, but without their mother’s collar, that would prove difficult.  Just recently, though, this feline family was identified in a photo taken by a camera trap.  As infant mortality for cheetahs ranges from 75 to 95 percent, the fact that all three young ones are still alive is truly miraculous. As a result of your support, CCF’s efforts ensured five new cheetahs have a chance to blossom in the wild.

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Currently, CCF has 52 cheetahs that were either orphaned or injured and came to CCF to be cared for. That number is slightly down from a year or two ago due to CCF's "rewilding" program. We developed a very successful protocol that allows cheetahs that have been in captivity to relearn to hunt and protect themselves in a safe area. Then after they are released into the wild, they are tracked daily to ensure that they can feed themselves. Feeding 52 cheetahs is very expensive. But another expense to consider is fencing!  While we don't like to see cheetahs behind fences, sometimes it is necessary.  Namibia has a law that requires one hectare (2.5 acres) per cheetah. We keep the majority of "our" cheetahs in enclosures that are much larger than the legal minimum, which means that we have a lot of fencing to install and maintain. (Just imagine what a warthog can do to a fence--it isn't pretty.) Fencing prices have really gone up in the last few years. So we greatly appreciate your donations. While we work on finding ways to return cheetahs to the wild, we make sure that their stay at CCF is as safe as possible. Thank you!

Chewbaaka as a cub, by Kim Atkinson
Chewbaaka as a cub, by Kim Atkinson

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.

Chewbaaka demonstrates a playtree to young people
Chewbaaka demonstrates a playtree to young people

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Laurie Marker & Chewbaaka, photo by Frans Lanting
Laurie Marker & Chewbaaka, photo by Frans Lanting

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.

The Four Scientists
The Four Scientists

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!

 

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Organization Information

Cheetah Conservation Fund

Location: Alexandria, VA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @Cheetah Conservation
Project Leader:
Beth Fellenstein
Dr.
Otjiwarongo, Namibia
$55,131 raised of $65,000 goal
 
856 donations
$9,869 to go
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