Monthly Archives: March 2013

Counting Critters

It took this giraffe 20 minutes to get into drinking position.

It took this giraffe 20 minutes to get into drinking position.

One of our activities at CCF is helping with monthly waterhole counts. A waterhole count consists of sitting really quietly for 12 hours in a hide/blind (a tiny structure with a long skinny window) and counting how many of each kind of animal comes to drink. Four waterholes are counted each month at CCF’s Bellebeno Camp, where captive cheetahs that might be released in the wild get to practice their hunting skills. These counts give CCF an idea of which game species (potential cheetah food) and predator species (potential cheetah competition) are living there and roughly how big the populations are. These are some of the friends we met at our last two counts.

Adult oryx

Adult oryx

Warthog family

Warthog family

warthog.butts

Male eland

Male eland, reminds me of a mythical creature.

Eland looks down the road

Eland heads down the road

five zebras

Jackals drinking

Jackals drinking

Jackals playing

Jackals playing

Springbok with a salt lick

Springbok with a salt lick

Baboon yawning

Alpha male baboon yawning

One of these does not belong...

One of these does not belong…

Mama and baby giraffe running

Mama and baby giraffe running

Adult male kudu

Adult male kudu

This is just a sampling of some of our local neighbors. There are many more nearby. This week we went on a nighttime animal count and saw an African wild cat and an aardvark!

-Chris and Jenna

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Ice Cream and Ecology

CCF geneticist Silja Hogner and veterinary intern Neil Walton are excited to explore the new trail

CCF geneticist Silje Hogner and veterinary intern Neil Walton (our housemate!) are excited to explore the new trail

Last week, CCF celebrated the re-opening of the educational nature trail that I’ve been working on. Interns, volunteers and staff gathered after work at the newly improved trail entrance for an introduction to the trail and taste tests of the latest batch of goat milk ice cream that Jenna and her accomplice Hanlie have been cooking up in the new creamery. Then everyone had the opportunity to explore the trail and see all the changes that had been made.

Three flavors of CCF goat milk ice cream fresh from the creamery: chocolate coconut, peanut butter, and chocolate peanut butter

Three flavors of CCF goat milk ice cream fresh from the creamery: chocolate coconut, peanut butter, and chocolate peanut butter!

The Savanna Trail (formerly known as the Lightfoot Trail) winds its way through 1.4 km of thornbush savanna habitat near Lightfoot Camp, where rustic accommodations for interns, staff and visiting school groups are located. I worked for about one month with CCF volunteers Jeff Peereboom & Titus Shaanika to revamp the old trail. We cleared brush and leveled the trail surface, making it safe for visitors. New items were added to the trail, including: a rest area; a bird-viewing blind and bird bath; a cheetah “play tree” exhibit; and a collection of animal bones and carcasses.

Surveying the remains of a large male eland at the Carcass Area, with Chavoux, Deg and Gabriel

Surveying the remains of a large male eland at the Carcass Area, with Chavoux, Deg and Gabriel

A few days after the trail opening, students from Wakefield School in Virginia were the first visitors to try out the trail’s attractions. They used the new guidebooks to give themselves a self-guided tour of the ecology of the thornbush savanna. The students reported that they learned a lot: the names of common plants and their uses; the role of termites in the savanna ecosystem; what kind of animals might live in all those burrows; and much more. I hope that the trail will provide learning opportunities for many visitors in the years to come!

-Chris

CCF ecologist Chavoux Luyt with the new trail guidebook

CCF ecologist Chavoux Luyt with the new trail guidebook

The new bird-viewing blind

The new bird-viewing blind

Map of the trail

Map of the trail