Monday, 27 January 2014
It has almost been two months since I left Namibia and ended my internship at CCF. I meant to add a conclusion to this blog directly after I arrived home in Oregon, but didn't know exactly what to say. I have now had time to process my experience and I know how I want to summarize it. A good way to determine which aspects of an experience benefited you most is to think about what parts of that experience make you the most nostalgic. For me, the most nostalgia inducing thoughts of Namibia come from remembering the people I worked with and the habitat in which my internship was set. I like to think I made friends at CCF that I will be able to keep in contact with for a very long time, and maybe I will even have the opportunity to visit them someday in their home countries. Seeing the world is a very important life goal of mine, and I hope that visiting my coworkers at CCF could work as a good excuse to help me achieve that goal. Other than the people, I miss the wilderness that I was surrounded by in Namibia. I could wake up and see five different species of animals on my ten minute walk to the offices. The closest thing I have to that in Oregon is the family of squirrels that live in the tree just outside of where I live. It definitely doesn't have the same impact from a conservation standpoint. In Namibia, I could see first hand what my career goals and aspirations were looking to protect, and that feeling has dwindled since returning to a classroom style of learning. I can't thank CCF enough for showing me what kind of career I could be a part of after college. I look forward to what opportunities I will encounter after having experience with a well known conservation organization. Lastly, I want to thank each and every person at CCF for being my friends, my teachers, my card playing buddies, my protectors while in the wilderness, and my support group through the rough times. I will never forget the time I spent in Namibia, or the people I spent it with.
Tuesday, 10 December 2013
Etosha National Park is located in the northern region of Namibia and takes up an area of somewhere around 22000 square kilometers. It is pretty much the coolest place I have ever been to. Sometimes it looks pretty barren, but you can turn a corner and there is a herd of elephant staring you in the face. There was a constant feeling of anticipation for what was to be seen next. I had plenty of time to see it all too. I spent three days staying in the middle camp called Halali, which was very nice. Nice meals every day, a pool, hot showers, comfy beds, and a fridge to hold my chocolate so it didn't melt. Day one was spent coming into the park from the south and working our way east to Halali. On this day we saw rhino, hyena, elephant, and loads of antelope. Day two started early and ended late, because we needed to see as much of the park as possible. We visited the pan, which is thought to be a long dried up lake that is 4500 square kilometers, and after about 10 hours of driving the park we got back to the camp for some rest. The last day we headed east through the park to see the last bit and exit through the east gate. This is the day that we saw a few more elephants, and most importantly a couple of lions. This trip was perfect. I had always dreamt of going to Africa to see the wildlife and that is exactly what I got here. The pictures I'll add to this post will not do this place justice, but they are still pretty cool to see anyway.
Saturday, 30 November 2013
I have been in Namibia for nine weeks. It sounds like a good chunk of time, but in reality is isn't all that long. Even though the time I have spent here is relatively short; I have met so many people and done so many things. Feeding cheetahs, medicating goats, creating displays, exercising cheetahs, counting animals in the wild, walking dogs, cleaning pens, performing necropsies, staring at the Namibian stars, shooing scorpions out of my room, getting sunburnt, playing card games late into the night, getting a bacterial infection, and watching sunsets from a water tower. I may have got carried away there, but I think that list gives you a glimpse into what it was like to work for CCF for this time span. Still to come in the next week is a trip to Etosha National Park. The wildlife there is phenomenal, and I have been waiting for this trip my whole internship. I'm still not done working, though. Projects need to be finished and animals still need to be taken care of. This last week is gonna fly by.
Friday, 22 November 2013
LSGD stands for Livestock Guard Dogs. There are quite a few of them here at CCF, and they play a crucial role. They are usually Kangals or Anatolian Shepherds in breed. They grow to be very large, which is a good thing because they need to be a presence when they are out in the wild with their herd. These dogs grow up with a herd of livestock around them at all times, and they see this herd as their family. This means when the herd goes out to graze the dogs will go with them and protect them while they are vulnerable out in the bush. Having a Livestock Guard Dog is one of the best steps a farmer can make towards decreasing human-predator conflict. Here at CCF, we provide farmers with these dogs so that predators can be kept away from livestock in a nonlethal manner. We breed the dogs here on site, and when they are around 10 weeks old they are sent off around Africa to start their life with a herd. Dogs must be kept here so that they can be bred to make more future protectors. Thirteen dogs are here currently, but they don't all serve as breeders. Some go out with our own herd of goats each day to protect them, others have been had to be taken back from the farms they were sent to because of health issues, and some are retired dogs that we like to keep around. I am lucky in that I get to spend quite a bit of time around these dogs each day. I may be cleaning their pens, giving them a walk, giving physical check ups to make sure they are healthy, or even providing medication. If only I could take on of the puppies home from the next litter, I'm sure they would also make great pets.
Monday, 18 November 2013
Centre Feeding happens every day. It is an hour long presentation that CCF puts on for visitors. It includes cheetah facts, cheetah stories, and watching the cheetah eat its daily meal right in front of you. The person giving this talk? Whichever intern got assigned to it that day. All of us know plenty about the cheetah, but our talks differ quite significantly. Talks given by the same person will even change each time that they do it. There are a few things that need to be covered like the stories of our cubs, the meat that we feed the cats, and what CCF does to help the cheetah as a species, but the rest is up to you. I give these speeches about twice a week, and each time I get more and more confident in what I know and what I should be saying. Even though I hated being in front of a crowd the first time I gave the Centre Feeding talk, I kind of like the lime light now. It is nice to present to everyone what I have come to know from being here at CCF. The number of people present to listen can range from 1 to 100 people, so you have to be ready for anything. Sometimes they have translators, because they don't speak English. Other times they don't speak English and just nod their heads like they are getting everything you're saying. It is different every time, and has made for one of the more challenging reoccurring experiences that I have had here at CCF.
Saturday, 9 November 2013
One of the worst droughts in recent history is taking place right now in Namibia. The wet season is just about here and we have our fingers crossed for rain each day. There are a few reasons why rain needs to go ahead and show up before I leave here. First, Namibia is dry as can be right now and you can tell just by looking around at the plants. It is pretty brown around here, but if the rains were to hit then it would quickly turn to a lush green. Being able to see a healthy and well watered Namibia from the top of Leopard Hill would be a beautiful contrast to what you can see from up there now. Second reason would be, I want the animals here to flourish. As you drive through the bush you see eland that have become too weak to go on and gave up by the sides of roads to die, and warthog piglets are skinny as some of the staff here have ever seen. The fauna here just is not doing well. They need some good rains to form water holes and replenish the plant life so that they can begin to thrive again. Last reason is, when the rains come so do the insects. One insect in particular is the termite. Large termite mounds riddle the wild, and when the rains come these mounds become active in one big event. Termites pour out of there mounds after the first rain with wings that they have developed and have been waiting to use. Within the day that they have emerged from their towers, they lose their wings and are again forced to walk along the ground. So many termites come out and lose their wings at this time that the ground is said to have gained a wing carpet over night. This sounds like the kind of natural occurrence that someone only has one chance to see in their lifetime, so the rains better come quick so that I can see it.
Tuesday, 5 November 2013
Usually my alarm goes off around 6:20 AM, but not today. Today I got to stay in my bed until the sun came overhead and started to beat down on my tin roof around 9:45. From there I got some juggling lessons from a fellow intern. I am starting to get the hang of it as well. Juggling continued until around 11:00 because that is when brunch is served. This is one of the best meals of the week, so we like to get there right on time to get plenty of bacon. Next came some laundry, followed by waiting for the laundry to finish, and ending with some hanging out of the laundry to dry. Now that the laundry is done, I have learned to juggle, and I have a full stomach I can now get around to climbing Leopard Hill. This is a rather small hill behind the camp that I stay at, and I have heard it has a great view of the area. After a small hike I got to the top and looked around. All scenery is beautiful in my eyes, even when there isn't much to see. Namibia is really flat, and it is also mostly desert. After a small stay at the top of Leopard Hill it was time to head back so I could spend the rest of the day off how it is supposed to be spent, which is lounging around and recharging my batteries.