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.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

New Arrivals: Laura and Cubs

The NCCC have welcomed three more cheetahs into the soft release holding camp to begin their environmental adjustment period in view for possible release at a later stage.

The three cats in question are an eight-year-old female named ‘Laura’ and her two 24-month-old female cubs ‘Sandy’ and ‘Rusty’. Laura was trapped on a hunting farm in the Otjiwarongo area over two years ago along with her young cubs. N/a’an ku se were called and the cheetah family was taken to N/a’an ku se’s Wildlife Sanctuary.

The start of the NCCC last June has now presented us with the chance to possibly release this family back to the wild or at the very least provided them with extremely large new home. 

Upon their arrival Laura and her cubs were taken straight to the 500ha soft release camp where we document their daily movements via tracking collars. In this case it was important that each individual was fitted with a collar as it can be expected that the cubs will soon split from their mother.

For the first night, the cats were left in our small holding pen to adjust to their new environment. By the next morning the cats were ready for their first meal, a large tasty zebra leg. This ensured they had some energy to begin exploring their new home. 

Since that day the family has continued to stay together and they have been found in all sections of the pen. Also, Laura has already made her first kill, a jackal.

However, a year and a half in captivity have left their marks and they often approach the tracking vehicle in anticipation of food. We will continue to observe the family and see if his type of behaviour can be reduced, as a high level of habituation can be very problematic for their suitability for release. We will of course keep you updated on our new family’s progress.