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March 8th 2009
Published: March 8th 2009
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I'm still alive, just. While we're here we have to sleep with the baby baboons, of which there are 5. The biggest one, Troy, has taken quite a liking to me, and to no one else. So I have in my bed with me nearly every night which is pretty knackering. I had Troy and the tiny one, Bakiies last night which was fine, until Bakiies pulled his nappy off... not so fun.

We were down in NamibRand last week releasing our leopard which was amazing. It is SUCH a beautiful part of Namibia, amazing sun sets. It's supposed to be semi-desert but is quite green at the mo die to all the rain they've had down there. I was ill for a few days so stayed in bed but the days I was alive were amazing. We released the leopard on the Wednesday and then tracked him for the next few days using telemetry which, in a nutshell, involves us standing on a hill sticking something which looks like a tv ariel up in the air and listening for the beeps. Our leopard stayed put for 2 days before she moved off to find some food and water.

I'm hopefully going down to NamibRand again the week after next, my last week here ( 😞 ), this time for a cheetah. Also while I've been here we've captured and released 2 cheetahs onto the farm we're working on. We're looking for 2 'problem cheetahs' who, in the last 3 weeks, have killed 12 of the farmers calves, and each calf is 5000N$ a pop, (roughly 400 quid) so its getting quite pricey. We've caught 2 cheetahs in our traps, one was a young male, the farmer didn't want him to be rereleased but he was not a problem so we didnt want to remove him, eventually Flo (the guy who runs the project) managed to make a bargain in that we collar him so we can keep track of his movements, so the farmer agreed. The reason we kept him in the trap for a few days was because we weren't 100% if it was a problem cheetah or not, but while he was in there another calf was killed so he was off, having a pretty good alibi! On the day we were going out to dart and collar the male, there was a female in one of the other traps, rather than face the palava with the farmer again we released her straight away.
It's so fascinating watchinf the release procedure. The cats are darted, then weighed, detailed measurements are taken along with blood samples, faeces sampled, nasal and saliva swabs and then the collar is fitted. The whole process takes about 30 mins as they start to come round after 40/45 mins. Normally they're in their capture cage by the time they come round but the one that we released on the farm we left him on the ground to come round and move off on his own accord. Hate to say it but it was hilarious watching him, he would lift his head then fall back down. Then he stood up and saw us and tried to make a run for it but his legs collapsed under him. We weren't allowed to make a sound though as we were trying to keep him as calm as possible as he wandered off with his jelly legs. He was ok though.

It's pretty fun :D. The farm that we live in houses most of the animals that are here, there is a big baboob troop made up of about 16. They're all roughly 2 years old and were all brought here as orphaned babies, looked after by the volunteers and then when they get too big to handle are put in with the rest of the group. When they get to about 5, and the number grows to roughly 30, they are going to be released. Yesterday they broke out of their cage and spread across the farm, we had to scare them and chase them back in, most of us sustaining a few bites but I crept round a bush a startled one and he went for me! Biting again and again, but there is nothing you can do. If you scream or tense up or throw him away they go crazy - I've seen it happen and it is NOT pretty. So i just stood there and took it. It hurt. Eventually Flo came over and he managed to block him from me so I could make my (slow and calm) escape. My leg is pretty impressively purple now. I'll take some pics :D. The baboons are nuts but they're so frustrated at being kept in a cage and do not appreciate being told to go back in. It's sad but if they were released now, they wouldn't survive an attack from just about anything. It's easy to get upset and annoyed at them, which a lot of people did, but I can see why they are so angsty so I find it hard to hold a grudge against them. I just worry about Troy who is due to go into the big enclosure soon! But anyway, enough about baboons. That's not why I'm here.

I will keep you updated, especially about the next trip down to NamibRand with the cheetah, probably not till I get back to the UK though as I don't think I'll be coming into Windhoek again before I go home.

For all interested parties, I've got my Australia visa sorted now, and have applied for uni accommodation. I went for self-catered in the end.. so we'll see what happens there. All three I applied for are in the centre of the old town, behind the Royal Mile so pretty central!!

Hope everyone is well and having fun :D


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