Field Research and Conservation in Africa
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The fecal project has had a couple of set-backs.
After collecting a fresh scat, Deanna and Mandela realized that the freezer at the research station had shut off. The plug may have been loosened when the area was cleaned. It is not known how long the freezer was off, but it was long enough for the scats collected in July – August to mold. The samples can still be used for hair analysis, but they are no longer useable for hormone analysis.
We also set up a poster at the AAZK conference about the Samburu project which is supported by the AAZK Bowling for Rhinos programme.
Cheetahs share habitat with rhinos throughout Africa. In Kenya, one part of our project overlaps with areas of interest to the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy and their partners the Northern Rangelands Trust. The Bowling for Rhinos project was set up to support rhino conservation on Lewa and was subsequently expanded to support Java, Sumatra and Indian rhinos. The International Rhino Foundation is also a recipient of a portion of the BFR funding.
Early in the morning of 23 September we left Reno for the longest portion of our drive. With a brief stop at Flaming Gorge for the night we spent a total of 47 hours of drive time in three days. We spent the evening at my nieces house in Pennsylvania and passed by Niagra Falls before landing in Syracuse New York to attend the annual American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK) conference.
Holly Koppleberger set up our craft table in the vendors area on the 24th, so we helped her with craft sales in between attending meetings.
In the second week of phase two of the camera trap study, one full set of cameras were stolen. The cameras were checked on Friday, but by Monday they were missing. The thieves used panga’s (machete) to break off the locks, taking the cameras and the batteries. This was a setback for the project because we would not be able to use the other sites selected on the Kima Ranch, thus two additional cameras needed to be moved onto private ranches near the subsistence farm community where security was stronger.
We spent several days in Fresno with Dale Anderson and Wendy Debbas. Wendy and her husband hosted our stay, but we met daily with Dale and many of the other Cat Haven staff daily. Cheetah Friend Europe (CFE) founders Nancy Benjamins and Maxime Lapidaire joined us in Fresno as well. My niece Brenda Tuttle also came to help with our fundraising efforts and to be another driver for the next leg of our trip.
We did not have the time to visit the Chaffee Zoo this year, but I spoke several times to Scott Barton the zoo director. We will be adding a talk at Chaffee again next year.
Set in the beautiful hills outside of Santa Rosa California is a privately owned zoo called Safari West http://www.safariwest.com/home/
With a brief stop to visit another friend and previous work colleague – Lisa Hendrickson – and a short visit to Bryce Canyon and the Grand Canyon… we landed our ACK team in Phoenix for the annual Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) conference. Cosmas and I presented updates to the Cheetah Species Survival Plan (SSP)and the Felid Taxon Advisory Group (TAG) after their business sessions were completed. The passion and dedication of the members of these groups for the long-term stability of cheetah and other felines is commendable.
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