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Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) | Namibia

More photos from this internship can be found here.

CCF works to preserve the future of not only the cheetah, but its total environment and those of other animals as well as the farmers in rural Namibia. Interns participate in a variety of tasks and operations of the program and are assigned specific areas of responsibility such as administrative work (data entry, record keeping, correspondence, reports and fundraising), education programs (teacher training, presentations, school talks), and animal care (domestic animals and occasionally cheetahs).

 The Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) was founded in 1990 by Dr. Laurie Marker. CCF's mission is to be an internationally recognized center of excellence in research and education on cheetahs and their eco-systems, working with all stakeholders to achieve best practice in the conservation and management of the world's cheetahs. As Namibia has the largest and healthiest population of cheetahs left in the world, CCF's International Research and Education Centre is based in Namibia, near Otjiwarongo.

CCF's stance is that understanding the cheetah's biology and ecology is essential to stabilize the population and manage its sustainability for the future. Its strategy to save the wild cheetah is a three-pronged process of research, conservation, and education, beginning with long-term studies to understand and monitor the factors affecting the cheetah's survival. Results of these studies are used to develop conservation policies and programs to sustain its populations. CCF actively works with local, national and international communities to raise awareness, communicate, educate and train. Some of CCF's approaches include:

  1. conducting intensive scientific research and publishing papers on research findings--in cheetah genetics, biology, ecology, health and reproduction, human impact, and species survival, including assistance with the management of captive and free-ranging cheetah throughout the world. CCF also develops and implements non-lethal predator control and other better livestock management practices. These include CCF's Livestock Guarding Dog Programme, and the relocation of problem cheetahs, which attempt to eliminate the need for ranchers to kill cheetah.

  2. creating and managing long-term conservation strategies for the cheetah throughout their range. CCF researchers develop, test, and promote alternative land-management practices such as conservancy development, and eco-tourism.

  3. carrying out local and international conservation education programs to illustrate ways in which the species can be protected, by addressing community upliftment and predator-conflict resolution. CCF also creates and disseminates education materials worldwide.

  4. building capacity in countries that still harbor cheetah populations. The international program currently includes distributing CCF materials, lending resources and support, and providing training throughout Africa and the rest of the world.

CCF's work to save the wild cheetah and its wilderness habitat is successful because it works on all aspects of the cheetah's plight, through education and public outreach, applied conservation biology and management, public policy, and science and research.

This internship provides a great opportunity to gain a well-rounded understating of wildlife conservation fieldwork and the related day-to-day logistics. Interns are expected to participate in a variety of general tasks and operations of the program. An additional focus area may be assigned based on the student’s background and interests. Each intern will work in at least a few the following areas:

Livestock Guard Dog Program

Livestock guard dogs are trained by CCF and sold to local farmers as a way to keep cheetahs off of local farms and therefor mitigate the human wildlife conflict, which often contributes to the death of cheetahs and other potential predators. Interns complete animal husbandry tasks with the dogs: feeding, exercising, healthcare maintenance, enclosure maintenance, record keeping.

Model Farm Program

CCF operates a Model Farm that raises goats and uses this farm as a tool to research and deploy predator-friendly, economically viable farming methods. The Model Farm has become an education and training tool for farmers all over Namibia and through the cheetah’s range, allowing CCF to lead by example. Interns complete animal husbandry tasks with the goats: feeding, exercising, healthcare maintenance, enclosure maintenance, record keeping and occasional farm visits.

Public Engagement and Education

Many local and international visitors come to CCF, wanting to learn more about Cheetahs and CCF’s conservation efforts. There is an on-site museum and education center. Interns may give educational tours and presentations, assist with youth programs, or help develop marketing, website content, and awareness building materials.

Ecology

CCF conducts research involving the direct conservation of free-roaming cheetah and in the conservation of biodiversity (including habitats and ecosystems that support cheetah and other species). We work closely with key stakeholders/landowners in order to facilitate the conservation of large carnivores outside of protected areas. Interns will assist with: Game counts, species monitoring, including camera trapping and species ID.

Cheetah Husbandry

CCF’s captive cheetahs come from many unfortunate situations involving humans, and often they cannot be released back into the wild. It is our responsibility to ensure that these cheetahs have the best lives that they can in captivity and at the same time, contribute to CCF’s mission to help educate the public and raise awareness regarding the plight of the cheetah. The captive cheetahs at CCF are part of ongoing research to better understand cheetah biology, physiology and behavior. Interns complete animal husbandry tasks with the cheetahs: feeding, exercising, healthcare maintenance, enclosure maintenance, record keeping.

Scat Detection Dog Program

Scat dogs are trained to smell out cheetah scat (fecal matter) and samples are collected and analyzed by CCF’s genetics lab. DNA is extracted and analyzed to determine the identity of the cheetah the scat came from, what the cheetah is eating. This information gathering helps to shape the conservation solutions designed and enacted by CCF. Interns will ensure the training and fitness of detection dogs and conduct field searches with the dogs to collect cheetah and other carnivore scat samples

Other tasks include:

  • ALL interns will have administrative work which may include: data entry, record keeping, report writing, fundraising, etc.
  • Occasional opportunities arise for animal husbandry with horses
  • Occasional opportunities arise for interns to observe animal work-ups/check-ups, necropsies, cheetah releases

Academic Background

  • Biology, Animal Science, Veterinary Medicine, Environmental Studies/Science, Wildlife Science, Business/Marketing, GIS/Spatial Analysis, Agriculture Science including livestock and farming ( particularly olive and grape projects). Interns with skills and interests in non-profit management, fund-raising and education are also sought.

Skills/Experience

  • Computer and/or graphic design skills a plus. Animal handling experience.  

Other Requirements

  • Students must be flexible and willing to work up to seven days a week with long hours. Living and working conditions are typical of a rural area in a developing country.
  • English. Interns with some German language skills are sought to work with the large volume of German-speaking visitors to CCF.

Estimated One-Time Expenses

  • IE3 Program Fee: $3,450
  • International Travel: $1,700
  • Visa: $150
  • Recommended Immunizations: $400*
  • Roundtrip transportation to/from airport: $230
  • Host Site Admin Fees: $55

* Fees vary based on medical history and insurance coverage

Estimated Monthly Expenses

  • 10-weeks housing + 3 meals/day: $2000 ($500/wk)
  • Snacks: $75 ($18.75)
  • Local Transportation:  $60 ($15/wk)
  • Recreation: $75 ($18.75)
  • Personal Expenses: $75 ($18.75)

Accommodation is in dorms or rondavels with other volunteers and staff. All meals are provided and served cafeteria-style.

Blogs:

Final Reports:

Quotes:

“During my 10 weeks at CCF and additional time spent traveling abroad, I learned about conservation and its many avenues. As one of my peers said, there is no such job as “conservationist.” Conservation is a team effort, a team assembled from animal keepers, dog experts, statisticians, tourism experts, geneticists, and more. What having real world experiences in the conservation field can teach anyone is their place on that team. I found my place working in human-wildlife conflict with the livestock guardian dog team, in tourism, teaching the public about our captive cheetahs, and in husbandry, helping with veterinary workups and cheetah feeding. I learned that even though everyone in conservation shares a common passion and goal, it does not mean that everyone agrees on the path to reach that goal. I also learned about cultural misconceptions regarding conservation and animal value in southern Africa. I hear a lot of people assume they understand how native Africans view wildlife, and I found that just like anywhere, opinions vary much more drastically than the general public in America seems to believe. Overall CCF was an incredibly challenging and rewarding endeavor, and certainly one I will not forget.”

-Ali, Oregon State University

“I had many professional responsibilities such as data recording, animal care, animal husbandry, data entry, education of visiting public and student groups. I was able to acquire many skills that will be applicable to my resume and I have made strong professional connections at CCF. I learned that I want to focus on a career in conservation. If I could work with detection dogs again it would be amazing. In working with my peers and mentors, learned a lot-because I asked many questions, even about trivial stuff, which allowed me to get more information from them. Being proactive in asking questions and engaging with colleagues and mentors allowed me to, gain a deeper understanding of what CCF is doing and why and I learned a great deal about African wildlife.

One paragraph isn’t nearly enough to explain everything I experienced and felt. I was the leading scat dog intern for 10 weeks at the Cheetah Conservation Fund where I would wake up every morning at 6 and train 4 of their scat dogs. The purpose of this training to make them proficient at finding and indicating on cheetah scat. If cheetah scat is found in the wild, CCF can use its genetic information for a variety of things. That was my main task, however, I also did work with cheetahs. I would prepare their food, clean their habitat and educate the public on cheetahs. Working with the dogs everyday was rewarding personally and professionally. Personally, because I built a strong relationship with the dogs and I got to be their dog handler a few times. Nothing is more fulfilling then being able to reward your dog when it correctly indicates on cheetah scat. Professionally, this internship opened a field for me that I didn’t know about. The dogs have potential in many fields of science. Overall, Africa is a beautiful place and while I was there, I felt at home. There’s no place with fresher air than lovely Africa.”

-Ismael, Oregon State University

“General intern tasks at CCF included general care, feeding, and cleaning of horses, Anatolian Shepherds, goats, sheep, and cheetahs. As a vet tech intern I was able to help with necropsies, goat vaccinations, cheetah vaccinations, blood transfusions, biopsies, and help monitor anesthesia during cheetah work-ups. I had little to no goat experience prior to arrival, but quickly fell in love with the goats and was been tasked primarily taking care of the herd. I have learned a lot about goat care and medicine and was able to care for a few sick goats. My most moving experience involved helping with cheetah work-ups and being able to give a vaccine to my first cheetah. Overall, I had the greatest experience one could have had. I was able to integrate into a new culture, which at first was not easy for me. I am very happy that it all worked out in the end. I had to put myself in uncomfortable situations and learn that not everything was going to be in my favor. I learned to make the best of situations, and this ultimately led me to have an amazing time. I was nervous to travel for this first time out of my home country and nervous about the process of getting back into my home country, but thankfully it went very smooth. The most important thing that I learned about myself is that I am certain that I am suitable for this career and that I can really do anything I put my mind to. I am leaving with great connections, great friendships, and a greater purpose. I feel like I am leaving a piece of myself in Namibia and I definitely see myself returning to CCF in the future. If I could do it all again, I definitely would.”

- Burgandi, Oregon State University

“Being an intern at the Cheetah Conservation Fund for 10 weeks is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done in my life. The program is incredibly gratifying and it gave me an intensely deep appreciation and respect for wildlife conservation and all of the effort that goes into it. Being at CCF challenged me emotionally, mentally, and physically nearly every day. Through these struggles, I became more flexible, patient, responsible, and independent. I opened my eyes to a new career path within my original career goal of veterinary medicine and have had experiences that make me a much more competitive applicant for veterinary school. Additionally, I have made both personal and professional connections that I know I will keep for life. Although I met hardships adjusting to life in such a remote part of Namibia, it gave me the opportunity to shift my focus away from the life I know in a city, to really immerse myself in life in the bush and to learn more about my host culture. I am extremely grateful for the experiences I had while I was at CCF, and given the chance I would return without question.”    

- Anya, Oregon State University

“I spent three months as a general intern at the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia, Africa. There, I specialized in the Education Department, speaking with the public about cheetahs in captivity, in the wild, and the struggles with conserving an endangered species. CCF has many programs moving towards preventing the growth of the illegal pet trade, preventing/managing habitat loss, and working with the government, local people, and other stakeholders to conserve/protect cheetahs, wildlife, and natural resources. With this knowledge and my personal efforts to aid these programs, I informed the public of what we were doing and what they could do to help. My other, daily tasks were general animal care and husbandry: feeding, preparing, and caring for the goats, sheep, cheetahs, and dogs at the facility. I also participated in monthly game counts, transect counts, and one waterhole count for the Ecology Department. Overall, I have learned better communication skills with the public, I have learned how to interact with people of differing cultures, and I have learned practical, husbandry skills for my future career path. I feel confident in my animal care skills to quickly learn husbandry for future animals I will work with, and I feel comfortable interacting with future coworkers with diverse backgrounds. I feel more honest, patient, and open-minded after my internship, which I understand to be very unique and necessary skills in work and personal environments. Some of the challenges I felt while abroad were speaking about my culture and experiences, being misunderstood at times, and learning how to connect with people I thought were very different than I. What I learned was that even though everyone is unique and complex, you can learn from each other, and that is a bond that holds people together.”

 - Courtney, Oregon State University

“To succeed at CCF, you have to be willing to give it your all; you can’t be afraid to try new things; and you can’t be afraid of getting dirty. I knew this internship would be hard work, but I didn’t quite expect it to be such a labor intensive experience…My advice to future interns at CCF is to keep an open mind, work hard and cherish the experience because it will be over before you know it.”

- Stephanie Campbell, Oregon State University

“One of the most important lessons I learned at CCF is that one way to ensure you are helping the organization to your full potential is to make sure you are well acquainted with your coworkers and their current projects and activities. Knowing what is happening throughout the organization is crucial to being an asset…As an employee and a person I am much more efficient with time management since my time with CCF. I became used to completing task after task every day, and that has carried over into my life back in the United States. Flexibility was also an important trait I developed during my internship, as I was expected to be able to help any coworker that needed assistance. Being pushed like I was, forced me to build confidence in my abilities and knowledge…My time as an intern in Namibia has made me grow as a conservation professional and as a person. I now understand what it takes to be a scientist in the field, and I am prepared for the challenges that I would happen upon in such a position.”

- Ben Spearing, Oregon State University

“This internship was immensely beneficial for me personally and professionally. Professionally, it gave me hands on practice and experience in a conservation intensive work environment, and it really threw me into new situations and helped me become an independent and self-motivated worker. This internship also presented me with many leadership roles, once I showed that I was competent intern. I really felt as though I thrived in this environment professionally. Personally, I also felt extremely fulfilled. I went into the internship not knowing what to expect, but truly excited to do anything involved with the organization, and I think this reflected in my personal attitude and people picked up on this, and I really got the most out of my internship from this.”

- Kate Vannelli, University of Oregon

“I adored every moment of my internship with CCF…I believe that all my work has made me a more outgoing and stronger individual that I am today. Although I had my cultural shock moments, I was able to pull through with the help of certain interns and staff members. If I had a chance to go back to CCF I would definitely repeat this internship without a doubt, my time was certainly not wasted and I can proudly say I have helped in the fight to save the wild cheetah.”

- Jaimie Keck, Oregon State University

Visit the CCF website at http://www.cheetah.org

Click here for an article on CCF from the Smithsonian Magazine, February 2008

Read about CCF’s dog breeding program, aimed at reducing conflict between local farmers and cheetahs:  Dogs Ease Namibia’s Cheetah-Farmer Conflicts

Terms

Fall | Winter | Spring | Summer

Application Deadline

Summer: January 25

Fall: April 15

Winter: September 1

Spring: November 15

Basic Requirements

- Biology, Animal Science, Veterinary Medicine, Environmental Studies/Science, Wildlife Science, Business/Marketing, GIS/Spatial Analysis, Agriculture Science including livestock and farming ( particularly olive and grape projects).

- Computer and/or graphic design skills a plus. Animal handling experience.