So I have to be careful with details here because this could lead to criminal persecution, but last week I was doing Centre Feeding (I can’t remember if I described this to you, I think I have, but it’s where we do an educational talk and feed the main centre area’s 13 cheetahs) and a family of three came up to me after my talk and showed me pictures of a cheetah cub that they had come across during their recent travels and it was being illegally detained. We met with our wildlife trafficking specialist and education manager, Nadja (she’s new and a Namibia with LOTS and LOTS of contacts, experiences, and incredible stories) and decided that we needed to take immediate action.
The next day Tarik, Nadja, Sam, Vundi (Nadja’s dog), and I hit the road and drove about 4 hours west towards the coast. The landscape is unbelievably beautiful there. It’s a true desert with towering rock mountains and sand dunes. We hit red rock and red sand as the sun was setting and the entire landscape turned into a fiery painting that you would expect in a National Geographic magazine.
We met up with one of Nadja’s old friends who let us set up camp on his farmland to spend the night. I wish I could describe the stars there, but it’s not something you can photograph or describe – you just have to experience it. We set up camp, got a little fire going, and cooked some supper. Through the night our site was visited by a heard of Mountain Zebra and you could hear their hoofbeats and snorts as they passed by. We awoke to a beautiful sunrise over the rocky hills and then packed up and hit the road.
On our way to the site of the incident we stopped at many different communities and farms introducing CCF, our missions and goals, as well as contact information for any human-wildlife conflict issues that might arise. We learned so much about the area and problems that the locals have been facing. The whole trip was an incredible, but the highlight was that we got to see truly wild desert elephants! We saw a breeding herd with cows and young and even a huge, old bull who was much more interested in eating his acacia tree than us driving past.
We made great contacts and connections and the overall mission was a great success.
Since I can’t talk about the details of the cub situation, I will use this time as an opportunity to share CCF’s page about our efforts to end the illegal cheetah pet trade. https://www.facebook.com/CCFKeepCheetahsWild/?hc_ref=SEARCH&fref=nf
I love being a part of real, on the ground conservation.