Running with Earthwatchers Who Run with Cheetahs

I’m amazed at how much great work goes on at the Cheetah Conservation Fund’s (CCF) research and education center in Namibia—we get so many exciting updates from them it can be hard to keep up without a cheetah’s speed.

But Earthwatch volunteers have indeed kept pace with Dr. Laurie Marker and all of CCF’s dedicated staff for years through the Cheetah Conservation in Namibia expedition. Earthwatchers help CCF accomplish what once seemed impossible: saving the cheetah from extinction in a land where 90% of them live on farmlands and have traditionally been in conflict with humans. Managing human/wildlife conflict is one of the most important challenges facing environmental conservation today, so it’s always incredibly gratifying to read the reports from CCF and the evaluations from Earthwatch volunteers who’ve been there, to see that people are out there getting it done, and done right.

Eleanor York (Carmarthenshire, UK) in the green Earthwatch shirt, helps in the CCF lab. Also pictured is Earthwatcher Christine Kozera (2nd from left), from New South Wales, Australia. Photo courtesy of Cheetah Conservation Fund.

It’s also easy to get a bit jealous, sitting here in my office in (lovely!) Boston reading that recent teams of Earthwatch volunteers on this expedition have gotten to:

  • help attach a radio tracking collar to a wild male cheetah named “Hi Fi” and observe his health check up close in the CCF labs;
  • spot multiple species on the monthly game counts that allow researchers to evaluate the overall health of the cheetahs’ habitat;
  • assist with the “re-wilding” process for four male cheetahs in a “training camp;”
  • set up and monitor camera traps, one of which caught an image of a civet, very rare for the area;
  • care for the Livestock Guarding Dog puppies that CCF raises and trains so that local farmers have non-lethal means of protecting their livelihoods;
  • encounter a herd of eland antelope grazing with small calves, and manage to photograph and count them all.
Earthwatch volunteers working with CCF in December photographed and documented this herd of eland. (C) CCF.

I’m sure that last one was no easy task, under the Namibian sun, with these alert, graceful animals. Whenever I need to give examples to friends or family of the great value of “citizen science volunteers,” stories like this one come to mind. It’s through this kind of effort, requiring many sets of eyes and many sets of hands working to collect accurate data, that Earthwatchers so often save researchers so much time in the field.

So, on the jealousy front: helping magnificent big cats up close, seeing a stunning African landscape, working side-by-side with dedicated and world-renowned researchers and conservationists, empowering local communities in sustainability, and…puppy time. I doubt it gets much better than that for a “vacation,” no matter how much great stuff you have to keep pace with in a given day.

Maybe you’ll be in some future report from CCF that provokes both admiration and a little envy in me. Teams will be running in May, June, and July—don’t miss out, because I’m told that like those on a cheetah, spots on this expedition tend to move fast.

A wild male cheetah that lives in the area around CCF, “Hi Fi,” is released after a wellness exam and being fitted with a new radio collar to help track his movements. (C) CCF.

Call 800-776-0188 (US) or +44 (0) 1865 318 831 (UK) or visit www.earthwatch.org (US) or www.earthwatch.org/europe (UK) for more information and get into the field with Earthwatch. 

Until next time, have fun unlocking your potential. And help us unlock the potential of this blog, too: use the comment section to let us know what you’d like to see here!

–George Grattan


31 thoughts on “Running with Earthwatchers Who Run with Cheetahs

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  11. * 02 domestic trains ( Hanoi – Lao Cai, Lao Cai – Hanoi).
    We leave Hanoi for Mai Chau (Hoa Binh Province) for 3 hours.
    It dated back in over 3000 in the past when Vietnamese ancestors lived inside many limestone gives in the Northeast and Northwest of Vietnam.
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  12. Just for your information: dr. Laurie Marker will speak at the European Parliament in October about CCF’s project. We are very proud to introduce her also to the political world, and hope to give her much more visibility on the European scene! I know you Earthwatchers are very engaged with CCF, that’s why I wanted to give you this news!
    We are working together with France, Italy Germany to try to make a big event in Strasbourg, France.
    Betty, Italian volunteer

  13. This is my next expedition!! I cant wait to volunteer again on an amazing opportunity that Earthwatch provides for us.
    Last year my daughter and I did the Trinidad leatherback sea turtles. She is now an Enviornmental Biology freshman at the University here. Trinidad with Earthwatch and Nature Seekers was a life changing experience!
    See you in Africa next year, if not sooner!
    Kelly Murphy
    New Orleans, LA
    USA

  14. Reblogged this on Arrancat's Blog and commented:
    For those of you who don’t yet know the magic of Earthwatch, then you can find out more here on their brand spanking new blog: Earthwatch Unlocked. In today’s blog they follow the work of their scientific research with cheetahs in Namibia, a project which you yourself can participate in. And if you didn’t know about Oceans Project Georgia, then you can find out more about us in Earthwatch’s January newsletter: http://www.earthwatch.org/europe/newsroom/volunteering/oceans-project-georgia.html We are currently raising funds to send young people from the former soviet republic of Georgia on Earthwatch expeditions around the world. We are incredibly grateful for the full support of Earthwatch in our endeavours and look forward to the kids blogs live from the field come summer!

  15. This blog is a nice addition to the Earthwatch universe. My comment is a general one about the blog: could we have a post and comment stream dedicated to suggestions for future expeditions? This strikes me as a good way of matching up reseachers and volunteers. Much continued success.

    1. Hi Adam,
      Thanks for that idea; it’s definitely in the hopper of things we’re considering adding to this blog’s features as we develop it in the coming weeks.

      In the meantime, hope you are already aware of the eight new expeditions Earthwatch has added for 2012? Check out http://www.earthwatch.org/expedition/new_expeditions_2012/ for more information on them.

      And scientists can find our most current call for proposals guidelines here: http://www.earthwatch.org/aboutus/research/scientistopps/reqresprop/ (we just had one deadline close at the end of January).

      Thanks for the good wishes on this blog–it’s great to have you with us here!

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