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Cheetahs

Quick Overview

One of the most interesting large cats is the cheetah, the Ferrari of the animal world, capable of attaining bursts of 75 mph.  There are about 8000 cheetahs in the world, 3500 in Namibia, the site of the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) reserve headed by leading cheetah conservationist Dr. Laurie Marker.  The approximately 100,000 acre reserve abuts the Waterberg Nature Conservancy and is home to 37 cheetahs.  About 20 of these cats are within a protected area because of previous habituation to humans.  CCF has recently expanded its accommodations and now offers a great opportunity to see these breathtaking animals up close.

Cheetah resting after exercise and catching the lure.

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  • Dr. Marker in the field with cheetahs.  Do not try this at home
  •  Local inhabitants
  • Beautiful caracal (wild cat) very recent casualty of the road, DNA obtained for the genetics data bank.
  • Cheetah feeding station
  • Genetics lab at Cheetah Conservation Fund reserve
  • Cheetah resting after exercise and catching the lure.
  •  Giving fluids to a sick cheetah in the vet clinic area.

Full Article:

One of the most interesting large cats is the cheetah, the Ferrari of the animal world, capable of attaining bursts of 75 mph.  There are about 8000 cheetahs in the world, 3500 in Namibia, the site of the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) reserve headed by leading cheetah conservationist Dr. Laurie Marker.  The approximately 100,000 acre reserve abuts the Waterberg Nature Conservancy and is home to 37 cheetahs.  About 20 of these cats are within a protected area because of previous habituation to humans.  CCF has recently expanded its accommodations and now offers a great opportunity to see these breathtaking animals up close.

 

 

Cheetahs live 8 to 10 years in the wild (longer in captivity), after a 3 month gestation and spending 18 to 24 months with the mother in a litter of 5 to 6 cubs before striking out on their own.  The nearly 110 pound males hunt in packs but do so in daytime, making them vulnerable to hunters.  The cheetah is often found in the field by farmers who fear livestock predation.  These cats often get blamed for the work of leopards and hyenas and are shot on sight.  However, CCF studies of hunted cheetahs have demonstrated that only 3% of the hunted animals actually have livestock DNA in their scat.  This misconception is now the basis of an educational program for farmers.  CCF also raises Anatolian Kangal shepherd guard dogs to provide farms with protection from predators.  These large dogs bark loudly and scare cheetahs, who like most predators, prefer easier prey.  To date, CCF has given or sold over 600 of these dogs with a waiting list of over 150 for other farmers.  Livestock losses by predation are down 76% where the dogs are used.

 

 

Visitors to the CCF reserve have interesting opportunities amid great accommodations.  The cheetahs in close proximity are fed meat-on-the-bone diets in large bowls, simulating the abdominal and chest cavities of their prey in natural circumstances.  Dr. Marker was the first to exercise enclosed cheetahs and has developed a track to run the animals.  Quite a sight to behold up close!  One can also visit the Dancing Goat Creamery on site developed by CCF which produces 5 types of delicious cheeses and ice cream…imagine that in the remote bush.  Grapes for winemaking are a developing industry as is the creation of sustainable fuel which comes from compacted invasive brush, burning efficiently with 90% less air particulates than charcoal whose production also decimates local trees.  Goats are raised for dairy and meat and intermingle with the shepherd dogs to acclimate them to livestock.  With over 100 employees, CCF is one of the largest private employers in Namibia.  This is an admirable self-sufficient complex! 

 

 

The CCF reserve is also a repository of scientific data through its well supplied genetics lab which catalogues all cheetahs (alive or hunted) and other animals except insects.   The lab provides DNA analysis, records diseases, collaborates with universities, and trains geneticists from all over Africa.  Adjacent to the genetics lab is an active veterinary clinic where nearly all cheetahs get an annual exam with vaccinations and dental work.  What a valuable resource!

 

 

If you are ever in southern Africa, your time would be well spent taking a side trip to Namibia.  Very interesting game viewing there but the cheetahs make it special!  VRRROOOM!             

 

 

September 26, 2017

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