Following my life and work at the Cheetah Conservation Fund

First Week

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 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…

– Eli

cheetah spots up-close

Peter chasing the lure

the African night sky…. this is how the night sky is supposed to look

Bee Eater


Ryan (head of CCF’s re-wildling program) boxing Padme and Bella for re-widling

Bella guarding her warthog carcass just after release

Padme and Bella standing over their last free meal just after release


5 responses

  1. Like each time every post is interesting ELi ! Thanks for sharing and say hello to Ryan, Juliette, Priskilla, Gabriel, Charles, Santa, Suzie, Gaby, Rosie, Matti, Laurie and Bruce !!! Amazing pictures and a nice way to sign them ! Thanks for sharing the milky way picture on facebook (how have you been able to do it like this ?!) Enjoy your time !

    May 27, 2012 at 8:27 am

  2. brigitte

    Thank Eli for your post. What a good subject to understand why Cheetahs choose a tree or another tree.
    I am impatient to know your results

    May 28, 2012 at 7:51 am

  3. Thanks you Eli for sharing your experiences from there. As always, these are very beautiful photos again.
    Good luck with your research project, and have a stay at CCF.

    May 31, 2012 at 5:18 am

  4. Sven Tolksdorf

    Hi Eli, your fist week seemed to be a good one – that’s nice.
    You wrote that you are happy to answer our questions… Well here we go. I’ve got a question about the Bellebenno training camp. What is Bellebenno? Is it an enclosure without contact to CCF stuff, tourists and other people? Or what is it? And how can the cats get some hunting skills? Does CCF give them some prey to hunt? Or how ensures CCF that the cats have enough food? And now my last question; how long are the cheetahs there in average? Some weeks, months or years?

    Eli, I’ve got a little task for you, if you don’t mind. You know that I want to visit CCF. But sadly my engineering studies don’t allow it in the moment. I’ve got to many other things to do. But it would be very cool when you could show me (and of course all other readers of your blog) how you live at CCF. I would like to know what to accept when I visit. It would be very cool when you could post some pics of the facilities (the Education and Research Centre, the museum, the clinic, the “Hot Spot”, the room/hose where you live in,…) in one of your next posts. That would be nice.

    PS.: I hope you succeed with your “playtree-project”.

    May 31, 2012 at 3:14 pm

  5. A insightful blog post right there mate ! Cheers for posting !

    June 1, 2012 at 7:36 am

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