by Beth Alexis
Our first day at the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) was busy and full of new experiences. When we arrived (after traveling on a very bumpy road, we were greeted by several CCF staff members including Dr. Laurie Marker. Dr. Marker founded CCF, and it has been working to protect the cheetahs of Africa for over 20 years.
The whole group was given a tour of the facilities and had the chance to see the research lab, veterinary clinic, and education center. There was also a demonstration where we watched a dog that was trained to locate cheetah scat for research purposes.
Dr. Marker’s passion for protecting cheetahs is evident and infectious.
One of the reasons that cheetah populations have declined is because they are often been killed by farmers who are trying to protect their livestock. Although cheetahs have been spotted on farmlands seeking food, evidence has shown that cheetahs are often accused for other predators’ kills.
CCF understands that farmers need a form of predator control in order to protect their livelihood. To help promote a human-wildlife resolution, the organization breeds livestock guarding dogs to give to farmers in Namibia. These guard dogs protect livestock from predators and in turn protect the cheetah because the farmers no longer feel the need to kill them to keep their livestock safe.
After our lunch, we got to watch some cheetahs eat their lunch as well. The cheetahs ate meat out of large bowls, and the enthusiasm with which they ran to their food reminded me of my own cats.
We heard a short talk on individual cats during the feeding. My personal favorites were Harry, Ron, and Hermione.
While at CCF, we are making educational materials about goats and guard dogs. We learned a lot about the animals from the staff, especially during our milking experience.
Several of us wanted to milk the goats, so we “helped” with that in the evening. Our time spent learning about goat nutrition and production will be helpful when it comes to creating the educational materials.
It was a pleasure to work with Dr. Marker and the rest of the staff, and I am looking forward to another day at CCF!