In November 2019, a small group of us from the West Coast of Canada had the privilege of visiting CCF Namibia. Our travel company, Royal Heights Travel, a small boutique family owned and operated firm in Victoria British Columbia had arranged the visit during our tour of Namibia.
I was particularly excited as I had visited CCF in 1997 as part of a travel programme operated by The University of Nottingham in the U.K. Since then, I had followed the work of CCF on-line and had continued to donate. I had even had the privilege of hearing Dr. Laurie Marker speak during her visit to West Vancouver some years ago. However, this was my first visit back in 22 years. Suffice to say that I was absolutely amazed at the changes. The development at CCF has been overwhelming. During our first visit I recall we ate our packed lunches under a tree and afterwards watched 3 cheetahs (including the much loved Chewbacca, very special to me as we shared the same birthday) chomp their donkey legs. This time we ate a tasty lunch of locally sourced foods in a beautiful cafe and were then escorted around the extensive property in a safari wagon by a very knowledgeable guide who informed us about the extensive research and vast education programmes both national and international which are carried out by CCF. We again had the opportunity to see several cheetahs eat (again donkey limbs sprinkled with a special nutritional supplement.) Our excellent guide informed us that the cheetahs really prefer the more expensive and difficult to access organ meat which they receive on a rotational basis. We visited (from behind a fence) the several resident cheetahs lazing in the tremendous Namibian heat and I can still remember their deeply powerful and beautiful eyes peacefully watching us. I will always recall the beautiful Alice (one of the resident cheetahs) following us with her gorgeous eyes as we drove away. We also saw the exercise area where the resident cheetahs run as they follow a mechanized lure, which simulates their hunting in the wild.
Our trip included a visit to the Dancing Goat Creamery where we saw some of the goats being bottle fed by the very caring staff and where we were given an explanation by our guide about how it operates. We also saw the Anatolian guarding dog programme and learned of its excellent success with the local farmers in keeping cheetahs safe from retaliatory killing. As a dog lover, I was particularly interested in this programme which stated in 2003. There is also a programme which recycles harvested thornbush into fire burning logs and which hopefully will prevent deforestation — a serious problem in Africa because of its negative impact on the environment.
Our trip ended with a visit to the information centre which includes comprehensive exhibitions outlining the work of CCF The Centre also emphasizes the importance of their genetic research and education programmes which will contribute to keeping these magnificent animals from extinction.
The highlight of our trip of course was meeting Dr. Marker in person and having our picture taken with her. We were deeply honoured to be able to tell her in person how moved we were by her wonderful work at CCF over the past nearly 40 years and how privileged we were to actually meet her. I know for myself that meeting her and hearing her tale about CCF’s work to rehabilitate 31 confiscated cheetahs to a safe house in Somaliland inspired me to continue my commitment to CCF.
This was a truly memorable visit and was the highlight of my visit to Namibia.