Friday, August 5, 2011

Hi-Fi Kill and Picnic Dam Waterhole Count

Quite a lot took place last week here at CCF. Early in the week, as I was walking to the main center in the morning from Lightfoot Camp (where I stay half the time here), I discovered an oryx that had been killed by some predator, most likely a cheetah. The animal was chased into the Eland cheetah pen fence where it was caught, killed, and eaten. It slightly bent the fence, and the horns of the oryx were caught in the electrical part of the fence, so I had to move it. The four girls in the Eland pen appeared to have been standing right there since the kill, wishing they could have gotten to it. Poor girls were so close yet so far away to a wonderful fresh oryx! I assume they heard the kill happening and investigated, resulting in having to stand and watch as a wonderful meal was consumed without getting the opportunity to take part. Because of this, I found our lead keeper Juliette, informed her and we went and removed the kill. Later on, we checked the camera trap in that area and sure enough Hi-Fi (the cheetah I have been tracking) was around with a bloody face and huge belly. I’ve never seen a wild kill before, so this was very exciting.

Last weekend we had our annual waterhole count of all the 25 waterholes on CCF property. There were 50 volunteers here to count so it was a very busy and active weekend. I was fortunate enough to be placed at Picnic Dam, which is the waterhole closest to the the Waterburg Plateau and deepest in the Rhino Reserve. Rhinos, leopards, and a variety of other carnivores are spotted here, so I knew we were going to have the chance to see some rare sights. Sure enough at around 11 am, a black rhino shows up. Very few people here at CCF have seen one of our 6 or so rhinos so we were very lucky to get the sighting. And to make things even better, at about 4:45 pm, and huge male leopard shows up. Both of these guys walk around the dam (what they call ponds here in Namibia), and spend quite some time right next to the hide only about 50 feet away, so we got some great photo opportunities. Earlier during the count and African Hawk lands on a tree right next to the hide with a kill, which was really neat as well. We got some great photos of that as well. I’ve posted pictures below of all these sightings. All in all, I saw less animals at this count than at the other counts I have done, but the animals we saw here were much cooler so this was by far the best waterhole count of the summer.

My time is coming to a close here at CCF with only about a week and a half left. I’m looking forward to being back in the States, but I’m dreading leaving the things I have come to love here at CCF. It’s been a great experience, but I do have a bit of time left. There will only be a couple of updates to come until I’ll be signing off for good, but no need to worry about that just yet. I’m open to any questions and comments. Any pictures I mentioned in this post can be viewed at my blog Until next time….

- Eli

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