Every time I return to CCF, things are always a bit different than when I left. It is really interesting to see what changes and what stays the same during the few months that I am away. The main difference is probably the people at CCF. The staff are relatively constant, but there is always a new group of volunteers and interns when I return. You sometimes miss the friends you made that have already left, but there are always new people to meet. CCF draws people from around the world so you never know who you are going to meet.
I’ve just finished my first week back, but so much has already happened. I’ve started to fall back into my place here at CCF… doing cheetah runs, helping with the various maintenance jobs, center feeding, working with CCF’s ambassador cheetahs, driving for field/strip counts, etc. We are always very busy but it’s great!
This summer is going to be a bit different than last because I’ll be conducting my senior thesis research whilst here. Cheetahs use large trees throughout the bush as scent posts for territory establishment, breeding behavior, and other social behaviors. We call these trees “playtrees” and because they play such an important role in cheetah biology, they make great sites for us to study and collect data on cheetahs. Though we understand what cheetahs use playtrees for and how we use playtrees to study cheetahs, we aren’t sure what characteristics of these trees are important for cheetahs. So what characteristics of playtrees themselves are cheetahs looking for when they decide which trees to use? My project this summer will be to determine these “explanatory” characteristics, as a thorough understanding of these playtrees themselves will help us focus our study of cheetahs and will improve management/conservation of wild cheetah populations.
I’m just in the initial stages of this project, but I will keep you posted on its progress and development over the coming months. I’ve had the time to get some photos you might enjoy which I’ve posted below (including a couple from the most recent re-wilding: click here for more information). CCF is a non-profit organization so we rely completely on private donations for all of the work we do. So if you are interested in supporting CCF, visit the website at www.cheetah.org to find out how. Remember you can subscribe to this blog at the bottom of this page for an email notification any time I post something new. As always, I’m happy to answer any questions I can. Until next time…