Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Whatever the future holds.....

I have been working on this blog entry for quite a while as its been very difficult to know exactly what to say, and I have delayed posting until now because my Gangnam Style attempt put a smile on some people's faces it seems and sadly I have to report bad news.

"Whatever the future holds"..... I wrote those words in a previous blog entry after describing how proud we were of Betty’s progress. However, the future held another devastatingly cruel blow because in early October Betty strayed too close to a livestock farming area and was shot and killed by a farmer.

In the immediate aftermath it was hard to think positively, but we have to remember our mission to provide as many cats as we can the chance to live their lives in the wild and we gave Annie and Betty theirs. In her 7 months of freedom Betty hunted, interacted with other cheetahs and before her man inflicted death, proved she could survive as a wild cheetah. In our eyes she was a huge success and it breaks our hearts that her life has been cut short in the way it has. We are still coming to terms with her loss and there is not much to add other than despite how difficult it may be we are determined to improve relationships with such farmers and educate them about living with carnivores or at the very least persuade them to first call us for help before reaching for the gun.

As a way of celebrating Annie and Betty’s lives what follows are some of the best moments we,  volunteers and our guests had in their company. These beautiful sisters will always have a special place in our hearts.

                                           Annie and Betty

A New Home:
Annie and Betty were released into the NCCC’s 500ha soft-release enclosure on the 27th of June 2011. Marking the start of the NCCC and a moment captured for the series finale of the Animal Planet documentary series “Wild Animal Orphans”.

 Tourists who signed up for our cheetah tracking safari took many amazing pictures of the sisters:

  “I had the privilege of making a tour with Kate at the NCCC. I believe the names of the two females I saw were Betty and Annie. It was just the two of us and we saw three Springbok going into the direction of where Kate had found the girls with her tracking antenna. All of a sudden we saw Annie starting to chase them at full speed!  I remember Kate murmuring “Go girl, go. You can do it!" Annie tripped one of them, but the Springbok got away. Kate thinks it was her inexperience. At that time I said to Kate "This is the most extraordinary moment in my life, I can now die happily!" ” - John Lahey, Cheetah tracking safari guest.

The Release:
 “The most memorable moment of our stay has been the release of Annie and Betty aka the two sisters. These cheetahs were released on the 10th of March at the Namib Naukluft Lodge. It was simply amazing!!!” - Volunteers Charlene Hotlett and Marie van Eupen.
 The last photo of the sisters together on the Naukluft Lodge farm:

Betty's Success:
After Annie's death we followed the progress of Betty and she did amazingly well, providing us and our volunteers some unforgettable experiences:

My favourite moment at the NCCC has to be the day we took a drive out to a nearby farm to check up on Betty who was released back into the wild three months ago. After approximately half an hour tracking her using the radio signals from her collar, we found her lying under a scrubby bush, looking like she had made recently made a kill. Seeing her looking so healthy and relaxed, taking care of herself in this harsh wilderness brought a thrill to me that will be hard to beat.” - Volunteer Marion Goedhart.

"To say Betty was an incredible cheetah would be an understatement. Anyone who volunteered at the Namib Carnivore Conservation Centre would understand that Betty was a superstar among cheetahs, and her trials, tragedies, and triumphs were stuff that movies are made of. Just like any celebrity has their paparazzi’s, we volunteers happily stalked Betty as she explored her new home gaining the inexplicable joy that comes with watching a once captive animal now running free. I had the pleasure of tracking Betty this past July where we ran across her in the midst of a ‘whorl-wind romance’. Matt, my fellow volunteers, and myself found Betty sitting under a tree across the riverbed from us, and then much to our surprise, another cheetah head popped out of the tall grass. A shy young male was courting our lovely Betty, and we could not have been more excited. We sat and watched the romance unfold with an hour of steamy looks, coy flirtation (and many excited whispers on our part) before we left the lovebirds by themselves. There aren’t nearly enough words to explain the excitement we all felt on that day and how we couldn’t stop telling ourselves and everyone else that Betty had a BF! The loss of Betty is truly a tragedy. She will leave a hole in a good many hearts, and she certainly will be missed in Solitaire. Betty, thank you for the joy you brought all of us. Now I hope that you will run free forever." - Volunteer Kellie Laity

The day I tracked Betty and saw her hunt a young Oryx right in front of me will stay with me forever. Despite how painful loosing her is I will always remember that Betty had the opportunity to do what cheetahs are born to do.

Never to be forgotten:
This photo of Annie taken by one of the very first tourists to go on a cheetah tracking safari became the inspiration for our logo:

Former student intern Laura Eikendal chose this photo of Annie and Betty as the inspiration to make our donation box which she recently sent out to us and now has pride of place in the Guest Farm’s reception:

Monday, 12 November 2012

Dancing for the Cheetahs, Gangnam Style!

We hope you enjoyed that! As the video states we are aiming to get a new radio collar for one of our cats inside our 500ha soft-release enclosure. The cat in question is our beautiful 9-year-old female Laura who since arriving here at the NCCC has had a large ugly collar because upon her arrival the smaller collar assigned for her stopped working. Not knowing if she would stay with her daughter Rusty we had to put the only collar available to us collar on her in order to ensure she was fed in the first few weeks. The new collar will be much more comfortable for Laura. It will also allow us to use her old collar for tracking training exercises and could be used for a larger animal in the future.

We have also just started a Facebook Page. Visit to keep up-to-date with the daily activities here at the NCCC and PLEASE spread the word to all your friends.......... I mean, how many other conservation organisations have staff members doing a bit of Gangnam Style?!

Thank you :) 

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

The Realities of Conservation: The Joy & the Heartbreak, Part Two

Part one this blog entry focused a lot on the heartbreaking nature of this line of work but this part contains a lot of joy! After Annie’s death we decided to check on Betty every three days to closely monitor her progress. We felt enormous relief every time we found her alive and well. Relief was followed by real encouragement in early April when we discovered her with a big full belly. Her kill was still close by; a juvenile Aardwolf. Betty had now proven herself capable of surviving on her own and we decided to back off from our intensive monitoring and check on her every 10 days.   
I am pleased to report that since the Aardwolf kill Betty has gone from strength to strength. The following map shows her movements since the GPS collar was placed on her.
Our ability to observe Betty at close quarters has provided us a unique opportunity to document the progress of this re-released cheetah. She has remained on friendly territory close to her release site, is hunting regularly and is looking in extremely good health.

On the 1st of August Betty’s GPS point located her on property belonging to  Ababis Guest Farm, who are one of our neighbours and kindly allow us onto their land.  Myself and our N/a'an ku se volunteers were closing in on Betty’s signal on foot when in the distance we saw a cheetah head pop up out of the long grass. We immediately hid ourselves behind some bush and a quick check through the binoculars confirmed that it was Betty. Then, to our surprise, another cheetah head popped up just behind hers! From a distance we continued to observer the two cheetahs for almost an hour. Betty’s companion crept closer to her position but we could only ever see the head, making it hard to ascertain if it was a male of female.
Chances of course are high that it was indeed a male trying to impress our beautiful Betty, especially as only days previously a male was sighted in that exact area. After the shock of loosing Annie, the thought of finding Betty with cubs in three months time would be a dream come true. We will of course keep you informed of any developments!

Another unforgettable encounter occurred only weeks later. On the 2nd of September Betty was again spotted on Ababis’ property during one of our game counts stalking a large group of Oryx. She crept to within almost 100m from the group but one observant Oryx spotted her and spooked the herd into running away. The next morning myself and our volunteers headed straight to the area where the Oryx herd was last sighted and a loud ‘beep’ form our radio-telemetry receiver indicated Betty was very close. We moved towards the ‘beep’ and hoped to find Betty tucking into a kill or at least nursing a very full belly.

I then heard rustling in the bushes ahead and whispered for everyone to stop, a young oryx calf then shot across us through the grass, closely followed by Betty....... we couldn’t believe our eyes! Betty and her prey quickly disappeared into long grass and we in turn gave chase. Within seconds the distinctive cry of an oryx in distress was heard and then silence.  
Our heart rates soaring we crept closer until we spotted the flailing legs of the young Oryx, which was on its back with Betty’s mouth biting tight around its throat. Thankfully for the unlucky calf death came very quickly. It is moments like this which make me feel extremely grateful to be doing the job I am!  We watched intently as Betty released her grip on the lifeless body and moved to the shade of a nearby tree, panting heavily. We watched for an hour but Betty chose not to tuck into her kill. Judging by her belly she looked to have already eaten something recently so the Oryx calf may just have been an opportunistic kill. We decided to leave her but I had already made up my mind to return the next day to confirm if Betty had eaten.
First thing the next morning I headed out to the same area and after getting by bearings a little wrong I ended up approaching the scene from a different angle to the previous day and found myself a little too close to Betty and her kill. She wasted no time charging towards me, hissing and spitting. I slowly backed away and was pleased to observe a much bigger belly on Betty and a good portion of the calf’s hind quarters eaten. Having confirmed what I wanted to know I left Betty alone to continue enjoying her prize. Watching Betty successfully living life as a wild cheetah has been a joy for me and Kate and no matter what the future may hold we are exceptionally proud of her! 
We are the Namib CARNIVORE Conservation Centre so that does mean we deal with animals other than cheetahs. In early September 2011 two orphaned female Genets we found alone in the bush and handed over to us. Genets are very shy nocturnal animals and quite rare to see. They are very good climbers and spend most of the night on the hunt for small mammals, reptiles and birds.

The two young sisters were kept away from human activity and Kate, myself and our volunteers have had many interesting nights trying to catch frogs from the river bed to feed them. Sadly, earlier this year one of the sisters died of an unknown cause but on the 29th of July the surviving Genet named ‘Jenny’ was released behind our campsite, marking our fourth carnivore release. Jenny has not been sighted since but that was to be expected due to her shy nature but we hope she is enjoying her freedom again.
We are also currently holding two young Caracal kittens that we collected on the 18th of June after receiving a call from another of our neighbours after one of her worker's dogs had killed the mother.
Upon collection we determined that we had a pair of sisters who have subsequently been named Kylie and Dani. We will keep the sisters until they have reached maturity where we then aim to source a radio collar and release them back to the wild.
So as promised a blog entry filled with some happier stories! I'll leave with a quick reminder to all our British friends that the Animal Planet documentary series about N/a'an ku se called "Wild Animal Orphans" has just begun so make sure to check it out on Thursdays at 8pm, especially because The NCCC is featured in the series finale! 

Monday, 13 August 2012

The Realities of Conservation: The Joy & the Heartbreak, Part One

I think many in this field of work would agree that a career in conservation is one of the most rewarding you can find. Being able to work up close to such amazing wildlife provides some unbelievable highs, but there is always the chance to have your heartbroken. Here at the NCCC the first half of 2012 has provided both ends of this spectrum in equal measure.
Firstly Kate and I must announce the sad news that Sandy, one of our family group that arrived in December 2011 passed away due to a very rare condition.  We knew something was wrong in early March when Sandy was unable to eat any meat given to her; her condition quickly deteriorated and immediate action had to be taken. Kate and our volunteers performed a minor miracle in the pouring rain, and managed to get Sandy into a transport cage, then drove her on awful muddy roads all the way to Windhoek Animal Hospital.

An ultrasound, blood work, and faecal tests all proved inconclusive; it was a complete mystery to why Sandy was ill.  Fluids were administered, and food was pumped into her stomach with the hope this would aid in her recovery.  Sadly two days later Sandy died.   Only after the necropsy was preformed that the cause of death was discovered. An un-diagnosed band of scar tissue had formed around her duodenum (small intestine), causing a blockage.  It is thought Sandy suffered some kind of trauma early in her life, causing the development of scar tissue and tragically it was only a matter of time. The loss of Sandy was very upsetting, especially when we saw Rusty calling for her sibling in the immediate days afterwards.  We are only comforted in the knowledge that we did all we could to help her. Rusty still has her mother Laura and to this day the pair are always found in our soft-release camp together.
Just before Sandy’s decline in health the NCCC had one of its most exciting days, because on the 10th of March our sisters Annie and Betty who arrived at the very start of the project were released back to the wild. The release of Annie and Betty became possible due to a new friendship between the NCCC and the Namib Naukluft Lodge, which began when we were allowed onto their property to track our first released cheetah Boris.  It was during tracking Boris with manager Marko Van Dorssen that the idea of releasing cheetahs onto their farm came up in conservation. Marko was extremely enthusiastic about the prospect and promised to talk to the Namib Naukluft Lodge owner Friedolf Sturm.

Because Annie and Betty had been captive for four years they had become habituated to the presence of people and despite us being able to stop their inclination to chase vehicles, their chances of release had been thought to be very unlikely.  However, for two important reasons the prospect of release onto the Namib Naukluft Lodge farm gave them the perfect opportunity.  Firstly the 20,000ha Lodge farm was home to huge numbers of game, which were not present on the NCCC research site and secondly we would be able to monitor the cats very closely for the first few weeks immediately after release, which for long time captive cheetahs is crucial.  This is because more often than not it takes the cats a couple of weeks to ‘switch on’ to the fact they are wild requiring us to provide them with a small supplemental meal to ensure they have energy to hunt but not enough to make them full.

Marko and Friedolf then visited the Guest Farm one evening and over a few drinks they described their excitement at the chance to become involved with the NCCC and by the end of the evening a plan had been made to release Annie and Betty.

The day before release, Jim, Leonie and our volunteers Charlene and Marie (volunteer report to come soon) helped us get the girls in a trap cage and then give them a huge meal to munch on overnight.  On the morning of the release our N/a’an ku se colleague Stu Monroe arrived with his volunteers; not only because of the chance to see the release but importantly to lend us the use of his open backed car to transport the girls to their new home.
The excited entourage with precious cargo made the short 20-minute drive to the Namib Naukluft Lodge where we met up with Marko, Friedolf and other members of their family who were all eagerly anticipating the arrival of Annie and Betty. We followed Friedolf and set off to the release site, an area deep into the beautiful Namib Naukluft Lodge farm and close to a water source. 

The big moment had finally arrived, we offloaded the girls and thanks to my skills at the dartboard the previous night I had won the honour to open the cage. Watching the two cats we had cared for since the start of the NCCC walking away into the distance with no fences to stop them was very emotional with a mixture of happiness and anxiety; just how would these two-orphaned sisters cope with a life in the wild?  Champagne was popped and an important milestone for the NCCC was toasted, not only to Annie and Betty’s new freedom but also to a great new friendship with one of our closet neighbours. It was a fantastic day. 
Annie had been fitted with a Sirtrack donated GPS collar a couple of weeks prior to release and due to her downloaded GPS co-ordinates we were able to closely monitor the two girls for the next three weeks. As predicted the two stayed together and we had to give them two supplemental meals as they had not made a successful hunt.  Also as expected was the sight of Annie taking the lead and walking ahead of Betty; Kate and I had always thought of Annie as the dominant character.  The two girls stayed on the Naukluft Lodge farm and everything was going well.
However, on March 29th Kate went out with our volunteers to the last known GPS co-ordinate of the girls and found Betty lying in a bush alone. The radio signal from Annie’s GPS collar was close but when Kate investigated our very worse fears came true, Annie’s lifeless body was found.  The nature of her wounds and the presence of spoor lead no doubt to the cause, Spotted Hyena. 

Annie’s death devastated us, and that day is by far and away the worst we have had in our careers. Kate and I have of course lost cats we have worked with in the past due to illness and old age but this coming so soon after Sandy's death hurt much more. We had cared for this beautiful cat for nine months, spending time with her almost everyday; we had so much hope for her future and were extremely excited to observe how this unusual female coalition would progress.  Loosing her so soon after release was very hard to take.  Even typing this now I feel the emotion of that day coming back. 

All thoughts immediately turned to Betty, who had just lost the sister she had spent her life with and looked to for leadership.  In the days immediately after Annie’s death I must admit to having an overwhelming desire to bring her back to the NCCC.  However, after the initial shock had faded we all knew that Betty still deserved her chance of freedom.  There will always be risks for wild cheetahs and avoiding hyenas is a lesson they all need to learn.  Betty proved to us only four days later that she was ready for freedom when Kate found her with a large belly, indicating she had taken down a sizable kill. A plan was quickly made to fit Betty with the GPS collar; N/a’an ku se’s director Dr Rudie Van Vuuren flew down and Betty was found, darted and fitted with her sister’s collar. Betty was then closely monitored for the next few days.  While seeing her alone was heartbreaking for us, she appeared to be coping well.  
Annie’s body is now buried under a bush next to our campsite, and she will always have a special place in our hearts.  She was one of the original NCCC cats and we will always have great memories of the exciting day we started by releasing her and Betty into the soft-release camp; a moment that was captured for the Animal Planet documentary series “Wild Animal Orphans”. We also had many amazing moments in her company during our cheetah tracking safaris. It is the image of Annie looking up to the mountains captured in the photo below that gave me the inspiration for our logo, an image I feel sums up what we are trying to achieve here at the NCCC. Our consolation is that, for however brief, she did leave this world a wild cheetah.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Student Report: Laura Eikendal

What does conservation mean nowadays? Its not about saving a particular animal species anymore, it is all about saving and preserving ecosystems. The aim of the Namib Carnivore Conservation Centre (NCCC) is to conserve the precious ecosystems of Southern Namibia through education and research, and by solving human-wildlife conflicts. Their focus lies on the carnivores in the area such as leopard hyena and cheetah, and that is where my story kicks in. Ever since I was young I was obsessed by wild cats, especially with the cheetah. In the first year of of my Animal Management studies at the Van Hall Insituut in the Netherlands, they told me that I shouldn't be so focused on the cheetah and that I should broaden my field of interest. I tried but I couldn't! I kept my dream of working with wild cheetahs and going to Namibia. In my fourth and last year of my Animal Management course I had to do a major internship abroad, so I decided to follow my dream.

On September 2nd 2011 I arrived in Namibia and my first impression was even better than I expected! The first 10 days was spent at N/a'an ku se's Wildlife Sanctuary. They wanted me to learn every aspect of the farm; where the animals came from and the story behind every animal. You'll spend every day differently, from food preparation for the animals to doing game counts. But you'll do every activity with a lot of volunteers, which makes it a lot of fun! Because my studies are more research orientated, I had a little bit of a different daily schedule than the other volunteers. I helped a lot with with the Footprint Identification Technique (FIT). This technique is being developed to identify wild cheetah individuals in an easy way through their spoor, and therefore many photos of spoor samples from N/a'an ku se cheetahs are being collected. Game counts are also an important aspect of a conservation research project. Looking at the population dynamics of the animals living on the farmland of N/a'an ku se will contribute to important decisions that must be taken about the land and it's living creatures.

After these 10 days, I was finally sent to the NCCC to do my internship of three months. When I arrived there I met the project coordinators Matt and Kate, who are really nice and easy going people.
Also the Guest Farm owners Walter and Simone are really kind and fun to be around. My research project was to investigate the spatial use and habitat preferences of Annie and Betty who were being held in the 500ha soft-release camp prior to their possible release back to the wild. My task involved spending a of time in the field with the cats, gathering data about their behaviour and taking GPS points of their position. 
Another activity that the NCCC does for the research side of their project is placing and controlling camera traps around the area. With this method you can calculate the carnivore density of the area, and therefore monitor the wildlife in the area properly.

On the other side, I helped out with the eco-tourism cheetah safari drives. Because not only is research an important aspect of conservation, so is education and raising awareness among young people. From time to time I had volunteers with me to help me out with gathering and classifying all the data.

The NCCC is a perfect place to do an internship for students of Animal Management, Ecology or other conservation related subjects. In return for your contribution to the project, you will get good guidance, beautiful surroundings,  a lot of fun and of course an experience you'll never forget.

Laura Eikendal

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Thank You!

Kate and I have returned from our 'vacation' to the States and as you may recall we intended to run the Pittsburgh Marathon Relay to raise funds for a holding camp within our 500ha soft-release enclosure here at the NCCC. I am pleased to say that Myself, Kate and our relay teammates completed the challenge and have survived to talk about it! For the complete story of the day please visit my personal blog; Matt’s African Adventure - The Marathon.
We really want to thank all of you who donated to us, it is very much appreciated. We are still in the planning stages of the holding camp complex and fundraising will continue in the upcoming months. We will of course keep you informed on our progress. For those of you who still wish to donate then you are more than welcome :) 

Kate and I also want to say a big thank you to our student interns Jim and Leonie who did a fantastic job looking after the centre and the cats whilst we were away. There will be more on the work Jim and Leonie are doing at the NCCC on this blog very soon.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Boris Update

The above map shows the latest movements of our first released cheetah, Boris. Each yellow dot represents a GPS co-ordinate that his Sirtrack GPS collar has sent on a daily basis. As you can see Boris has been on the move since our last update. The big cluster of points in the bottom right of the map shows that he was quite content in this area. However, Solitaire Guest Farm's owner Walter Swartz sighted a large coalition of SEVEN cheetahs in this area and the very next day Boris had moved off North. Indicating that Boris was probably forced out of his territory by this group.  Continuing Northwards one night he even returned home and walked right through the Guest Farm itself, leaving his tracks all around our waterhole. 

Boris also moved into areas where livestock farming is prevalent causing some anxiety amongst some local farmers, however, Boris ignored the goats and sheep and instead hunted Springbok. One of his fully eaten kills was even found right behind one of the farmer's houses. Boris had done an excellent job at combating the prejudice cheetahs face by some farmers by demonstrating that given the choice, the majority of cheetah will not predate on livestock and when left undisturbed will eat as much as they can and NOT be wasteful as some will call them.

As the map shows Boris appears to have a preference for the mountain bases, which goes against what most would have expected of a lone male. However, clearly he has still to find a comfortable territory similar to that of his first couple of months and has been exploring the Namib Desert ever.  since. 

In early March Boris' points indicated that he was moving through one of our neighbors farms belonging to the Namib Naukluft Lodge. We contacted the lodge owners and they generously allowed us onto their land to track Boris on foot in the hope we could get a visual. The GPS collar around Boris's neck also transmits a VHF radio frequency to allow him to be located on the ground via radio-telemetry, in exactly the same way we did when he was undergoing his environmental adjustment period in the NCCC's 500ha soft-release camp.

So on March the 6th Kate and our volunteers went out in search of Boris. They drove to his last known position and soon picked up the 'beep' on the radio-telemetry equipment indicating the direction to go. The closer to Boris they got the louder the beep, when it was clear Boris was within a kilometere the search continued on foot so not to disturb him. The beep became louder and louder until it pointed Kate towards a medium sized bush very close to their position. Boris was hiding in it somewhere. 
The search party with binoculars and cameras at the ready began moving slowly to try and gain a better vantage point and see if Boris could be seen. But then a rustle of the bushes was quickly followed by a blur of movement as Boris had spotted the party and ran away into the distance. Somehow one of our volunteers managed to get a great shot of Boris emerging from the bush, looking lean and muscular; the perfect physique for a cheetah. 
Disturbing him was unfortunate but thankfully, once realising he was under no threat Boris stopped in his tracks, relaxed and sat in the bush only a few hundred metres away.

Seeing Boris in such good condition was great to see; proving that he is having no problem hunting in his new environment. Since that day Boris has continued moving South and is currently in the Namib Naukluft Park. Boris is doing better than we could have hoped and he has been the perfect ambassador for his species due to his behaviour whilst moving through farming areas. We are extremely proud of him! :)

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Pittsburgh Marathon 2012

We need your help!!!

On the 6th of May 2012 Kate and I will be participating in the Pittsburgh Marathon Relay during our holiday to the USA.

We are running to raise funds for a new holding/quarantine camp for our cheetahs here at the NCCC being kept in our large 500ha soft-release enclosure. This new complex will help us look after any cheetah that becomes sick or injured and will provide more options when dealing with cheetahs suitable for release, especially females with cubs who would need to be isolated from the big male Spartacus.

Please support us and give what you can and share this link with all of your friends. It will be greatly appreciated and truly help the NCCC’s efforts to conserve wild carnivores.

Click here to donate - It will only take two minutes! :)

Many thanks! Matt and Kat

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Volunteer Reports

Jana Fode
The first thing I heard about Solitaire was that the landscape is so beautiful, and that is absolutely true as it looks just how you would picture Africa to be. I wanted to see and experience as much as I could during my stay in Namibia so I decided to volunteer at the NCCC. It was a good decision!

I would be joined by two other volunteers Jess and Paul. Shortly after we arrived we were taken by Matt and Kate to track the cheetahs in the 500ha soft release camp. Before entering I felt very relaxed because I had met several cheetahs before at N/a'an ku se's Wildlife Sanctuary. But the moment we met Spartacus he gave me a very different experience! For the first time I saw a cat that could live and act just like a wild one. However, Spartacus was not my favourite cheetah, Pepper is the cat I fell in love with. Her glance is very intense even though she was hand raised from a young age. 

But back to the research work which includes hiking to the camera traps which are spread over the area, I like this part a lot and I was happy I got the exercise because Matt and Kate are fast walkers and climbers, they will make you fit! :) 

After returning and having cooled of your feet in the pool you then get the chance to have a look through the pictures and if  you are lucky you may find leopards, cheetah or hyena, but you will definitely see a lot of springbok, oryx and zebra.

One of the most enjoyable parts of the trip were the sundowners, whether you see them with the tour guests in the cheetah camp or up on sunset hill close to the Guest Farm, they are amazing!
I also really enjoyed the trip to the dunes at Soussusvlei, you shouldn't miss the chance to go there!! All in all I enjoyed the trip and would recommend it to anyone who loves nature, animals and research work.

Paul Jennings
I came here to the NCCC as I wanted to experience cheetahs in their natural habitat and see for myself what is being done to protect them. I have done various activities including cheetah tracking, cheetah husbandry, game drives and camp maintenance. My favourite activity was feeding the cheetahs because they are at their most active and you can see their natural instincts and strength. Spartacus is the most active cheetah in the enclosure and the adrenaline starts running if he mock charges you!
The Guest Farm and surrounding landscape is amazing and its such a relaxing place to be. On a quiet day its nice to hike through the mountains and take in the beautiful views. I would recommend the experience to anyone interested in Wildlife Conservation.

Jess Labow
Before my arrival at the NCCC I had no idea what to expect. I asked around at N/a'an ku se and was told by other volunteers who had been there that the scenery was beautiful, the atmosphere relaxing and the co-ordinators lovely. My expectations were high after hearing all of this info, however I was not let down.

The first few days were exciting; learning about tracking cheetahs, having hungry cheetahs circling you waiting for food, and learning their history and where they came from. Just with any other conservation project there are always the non-exciting tasks to be done, but Matt and Kate always make sure there is some cheetah tracking/husbandry mixed with some relaxation.

My favourite cheetah would have to be Spartacus. Although he hisses and spits he is usually just protecting his girlfriend Pepper. Although the days can be extremely hot and the nights very cool, it has to be one of the most calming and beautiful landscapes I have and will ever see.