Monthly Archives: April 2013

Etosha National Park

Zebra munching grass at the park entrance.

Zebra munching grass at the park entrance.

We recently took a long weekend trip with our new friends Silje and Neil to Etosha National Park, just a 3 hour drive from Cheetah Conservation Fund. Both the wildlife and landscape were phenomenal. We’ll let the photos speak for themselves – there are a lot of them this time. 🙂 Needless to say, we had a fantastic time and look forward to more Namibian adventures.

Starting an early morning safari in the freezing cold, sitting high up in an open-air vehicle.

Starting an early morning safari in the freezing cold, sitting high up in an open-air vehicle.

Naptime for young male lions.

Naptime for young male lions.

African wildcat, about the size of your very own house cat but much wilder.

African wildcat, about the size of your very own house cat but much wilder.

Black-bellied Korhaan

Black-bellied Korhaan

Elephant tracks from long ago when it was wet and muddy out here.

Elephant tracks from long ago when it was wet and muddy out here.

Giraffe

Giraffe

Wildebeest

Wildebeest

Lioness stalking a small kudu

Lioness stalking a small kudu

Mating pair of lions

Mating pair of lions

Elephant herd at their favorite water hole. See the tiny baby in the middle... And the giant male in the upper right corner...

Elephant herd at their favorite water hole. See the tiny baby in the middle… And the giant male in the upper right corner…

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Kori bustard - world's heaviest flying bird. They are very very big.

Kori bustard – world’s heaviest flying bird. They are very very big.

Giraffe and ostriches

Giraffe and ostriches

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Elephant and jackals at a water hole

Elephant and jackals at a water hole

Springbok

Springbok

Oryx with the Etosha pan in the background

Oryx with the Etosha pan in the background

Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk. How does it land in all those thorns?

Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk. How does it land in all those thorns?

Baby zebra in late afternoon sun

Baby zebra in late afternoon sun

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Diversity in a stark landscape

Diversity in a stark landscape – springbok, ostrich, hyena, wildebeest, giraffe, zebra…………………………

IMG_3265IMG_3206We hope this tells a bit of how incredible African wildlife is, and how worth protecting each of these species is.

– Jenna and Chris

Gardening for Cheetahs

The garden site as a blank slate.

The garden site as a blank slate.

Way back in early February, I began building a diverse organic vegetable garden at CCF’s center, right next to the ambassador cheetahs’ enclosure. The main garden site is about 30 by 60 feet and features long straight beds demonstrating farm scale vegetable production, as well as keyhole beds demonstrating home scale gardening with meandering pathways. As part of a greater effort towards environmentally friendly practices and wise resource use, CCF is interested in producing fresh vegetables to feed people consuming food onsite daily – more than 40 staff and volunteers, visitors to the Cheetah Café, and guests of Babson House luxury accommodation. A study from 2005 showed Namibia to be importing 80% of its fruits and vegetables, mostly from South Africa. Localizing food production will not only help CCF reduce the environmental and social impacts of transporting food, but will also provide fresher, tastier, more nutritious meals and save money.

Me and my gardening buddy, Petrus, shaping beds after loads of manure were applied and some tractoring happened.

Me and my gardening buddy, Petrus, shaping beds after loads of manure were applied and some tractoring happened.

Rising to the challenge of heavy clay-sand soil, we used every bit of aged manure from CCF’s farm and then made use of a by-product from our Bushblok production – wood dust. All these materials were mixed into parent soil to improve fertility and organic matter content. As we prep beds for upcoming plantings, we’ll integrate the compost we are currently making from food scraps, which, as many of you know, is an essential ingredient for any organic garden.

My nursery crew - expert seed sowers.

My nursery crew – expert seed sowers.

Since we began in February, our plantings include beans, beetroot, carrots, daikon radishes, peas, squash, lettuces, turnips, parsnips, rutabagas, cilantro, chard, endive, mustard, rocket, spinach, radishes, okra, and sunflowers and other flowers to attract pollinators. Soon we’ll be transplanting onions, leeks, artichokes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and kohlrabi. By having this much diversity in a small space, we are able to use organic methods and keep the garden chemical-free. Big thanks to Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, based in Missouri and distributing from Petaluma, California – for donating more than 60 varieties of heirloom vegetable seeds. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds is preserving agricultural and culinary heritage by carrying the largest selection of seeds from the 19th century. Yeah! Thanks to my friends at Indian Valley Organic Farm in Novato, as well, for donating seeds for some unique leafy greens and flowers.

A bit of our seed library.

A bit of our seed library.

Newly sprouted seeds – broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and kohlrabi.

Newly sprouted seeds – broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and kohlrabi.

Our first planting - sunflowers, beans, beets, and carrots.

Our first planting – sunflowers, beans, beets, and carrots.

On the 3rd of April, we held a dedication event, naming this site the ‘Chewbaaka Memorial Garden’ in honor of CCF’s longstanding ambassador cheetah who passed away two years ago on this day. With plans for water conservation practices and beekeeping in the works, CCF hopes to include the Chewbaaka Memorial Garden in farmer training programs in the future.

CCF’s Executive Director Dr. Laurie Marker and team speaking at the dedication of “Chewbaaka Memorial Garden”

CCF’s Executive Director Dr. Laurie Marker and team speaking at the dedication of “Chewbaaka Memorial Garden”

University of Namibia students, CCF staff and volunteers, and visitors gather at the garden dedication

University of Namibia students, CCF staff and volunteers, and visitors gather at the garden dedication.

Good peeps at CCF - Chris with kitchen staff and volunteers.

Good peeps at CCF – Chris with kitchen staff and volunteers.

My gardening buddy Petrus weeding the beets.

My gardening buddy Petrus weeding the beets.

Thus far we’ve harvested lettuce and beet greens from the garden, and tonight we ate radishes and made a radish leaf pesto. Yum! More deliciousness to come soon…

– Jenna