I really wanted to give you an idea of a typical day at CCF but I don’t think there really is a “typical” day here… but I will try to give you as basic of a schedule as I can. Pretty much right now I jump on different activities each day to truly get a feel for each task and the staff.
If I am going on a horse ride, we leave at 0700 and ride for about two hours checking out fences for breaks and any signs of trespassers on CCF property. If there isn’t a ride planned horses need to be fed and turned out starting at 0730.
Guests can sign up for a “cheetah run” which is where guests get to go inside a corral within a large cheetah enclosure and watch as the Center Pen Cheetahs chase a lure reaching their tops speeds and showing off their agility as they are exercised. The cheetah runs happen at 0800 before the day gets too hot.
Also at 0800 the farm staff (mostly Namibian workers) start bottle feeding babies and cleaning up the kaaral. I help out with bottle feedings too which take place three times a day 0800, 1100, and 1530.
Starting at 0740 Paige and usually an intern feed all of the dogs, weigh puppies as needed, and clean up the dog pens.
After cheetah runs, or days where we don’t have runs, the husbandry team goes out to feed the rest of the captive cheetah population here. I got to help out and experience the husbandry routine two days ago. It’s pretty neat. The cheetahs are exercised by chasing after the feed truck and rewarded with treats at each end then their meat for the day is tossed at the end of the run. One of our older male cheetahs receives fluids three times a week and is trained to enter a crush cage and eat his meat as sub-q fluids are administered. Some of the cheetahs that have potential to be released are kept far away from the center and we try to have as little human contact as possible for them, so feeding and cleaning for them is a very quiet and sneaky process.
All these processes usually take some time and when there is any free time that is spent in the office. My role as intern and volunteer supervisor has me making up schedules for the interns here, helping with the scheduling and planning of arrivals for incoming interns and volunteers. I also come up with a research project for each intern to keep them busy during their down times and also to have them help with the data complications that keep the research and conservation side of CCF going. Unfortunately, a lot of it is monotonous work compare to the excitement of feeding cheetahs, but in the big picture it, data entry is so so SO valuable to CCF and our mission.
Between 1200-1300 everyone makes their way over to the Hot Spot for a buffet style lunch and maybe you get a free moment to throw a load of laundry in or take laundry out of the machine to go hang out on a line to dry. Then it’s back to work.
Afternoons are slightly more variable depending on what from the morning still needs finished, if there are guests joining in on activities such as husbandry feedings they usually don’t get finished in the morning hours and need to be finished in the afternoon. Center feeding which is where the center pen cheetahs (three groups totaling 13 cats) get fed. This is an educational activity for the public as one staff member puts on a talk informing guests about the kinds of meats and supplements we use and then talk about each individual cheetah as they are fed and the guests get to watch the whole process. This is also a great time to talk about the CCF mission and share some knowledge about conservation as well and the plight of wild carnivores. Center Feeding takes place at 1430 on week days and 1130 on weekends.
People can break apart to work on their individual projects and office work in the afternoons. Currently I am working on finishing up the compilation of the Mid-Year Report which is a report on EVERYTHING at CCF and is about 120 or so pages. And when I need a break from that there is always camera trap photos that need to be looked through and sorted out – I love doing these though it’s fun to see all the wild animal antics when humans aren’t around.
Horses get brought in, fed, and brushed at 1630. Dogs get fed again at 1500 and all the dogs get walked between 1600-1700.
We have other things that could go on in the afternoons like today for example, we do three days in a row starting at 1630 where we take three different vehicles out to “Big Field” and drive transects conducting game count surveys. These drives usually last about an hour or so and I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE being out on the reserve watching all the animals.
The work day ends at 1700 in theory but often times I find myself working much later to finish up tasks. I head home, usually go for a run (or try to), do a little workout and then everyone heads back to the Hot Spot for dinner at 1830. It reminds me of eating dinner with a big family at the table and I really enjoy that. I do get wifi in my house but it’s definitely strongest at the Hot Spot, so I usually make my phone calls right after dinner. Then it’s social time (or early bedtime) – a group of us will usually have a bonfire, play a game of Tac, watch a movie, or just lay out on the ground looking up at the stars. One night Nick even hosted a pubquiz (think trivia night at the bar) and we had teams of 3-4 and had to try our hardest to answer ridiculous questions – my team won too!! (don’t think it’s because of our impressive intelligence – we just happened to be good guessers that night) Another night a group of us went to town and had dinner at a nice restaurant then had a Disney sing along the whole cab right back to CCF. There’s always something going on!
And then back to my house and off to dreamland as the jackals sing outside my window and it all starts over again the next morning.