Monday, 10 March 2014

Volunteer Update - Weeks Five and Six

Week Five volunteers: Sophie van Rossem, Poala Alverez, Dom Howell, Sarah Eggiman, Josefina Karjalainen, Beatrice Muotka, Felicia Breggren, Mao Magnusson, Madelaine Errson, Sean Adams, Antonia Bernau, Sabrina Slovis and Sarah Boyd.

Week Five

"After a week at N/a’an ku se’sWildlife Sanctuary we decided to try a week at Neuras to get involved in the conservation work of the company; from day one we fell in love with the scenic, peaceful surroundings so much that we decided to extend our stay to 3 weeks.Neuras Wine and Wildlife Estate is perfect for volunteers looking for an insight into the research role of conservation, keen hikers and those who have an interest in carnivores, especially cheetahs and leopards. The volunteers take a trip to get up close with the ambassador cheetahs in the 500 hectare site at The Namib CarnivoreConservation Centre. We really enjoyed this experience and the chance to help feed the cheetahs and participate in their animal husbandry needs.
During our stay here we helped to set up trap cages and cameras to catch the behaviour and hunting grounds of these amazing mammals.  We also caught sightings of other animals such as jackals, honey badgers and various game through the cameras. We also got involved in the data collection and recording of the camera images, an important part of the research work they undertake to evaluate the wildlife presence in the area.

We were very lucky to be here when the team successfully caught their first wild cheetah, named Einstein; this was such a memorable event and it was fantastic as all the volunteers were involved in helping to set up the trap cage.

We also had the opportunity to track Einstein the following week using the GPS data received from his collar. In this way we were able to track his current position and also found his very first kill since his release, a kudu; this was great news for the team and for Einstein, as it  may help the Neuras team to demonstrate to the neighbouring farmers that he does not predate on livestock  and does not need to be removed from the area.

Other highlights of our stay included the trip to Sossussvlei and the hike up ‘Big Daddy’ in the Namib desert, relaxing by (or in) the peaceful fountain spas on site, the excellent food and service provided by the staff - and of course not forgetting Kate and Matt’s awesome pizza night, mmmm!

We enjoyed the regular walks to check trap cages, tracking the collared cheetahs and leopards, and exploring the canyons of the vast property of Neuras. During these walks we found Kate and Matt’s knowledge of the wildlife and their behaviour very informative and helpful; we learnt how to identify different animal’s spoor (tracks) to determine what wildlife were in the area. Kate and Matt’s dedication to the work and attention to the volunteers at all times is to be praised and definitely helped to make our stay enjoyable.

We would recommend a stay for volunteers at Neuras and we hope to be able to return in the future to continue helping with their great work. For anyone looking to stay at Neuras, make sure you bring good walking boots/shoes, be prepared to get stuck in with all the activities, bring lots of sun cream (factor 40/50) as it gets very hot, and just enjoy the surroundings and opportunities to spot wildlife and help with the conservation work to protect the cheetahs and leopards during your stay."

Sean Adams and Sarah Boyd 

Week Six

Week Six Volunteers: Hugh McKinstry, Veronica Theander, Josefina Karjalainen, Robin Hakenson Beatrice Muotka, Sean Adams and Sarah Boyd.

"During our weeks at Neuras we experienced a lot, but the highlight of these two weeks was the capture of Einstein, the very clever cheetah. After a lot of hard work with the cage, which we moved from the riverbed to his marking tree, we got a pleasant surprise the morning after. Finally he was captured!

A few days later Kate got a call from the neighbours that a cheetah was on their property. Thanks to the collar Kate could see that it was Einstein and that he had made a kill. So we drove there and couldn’t find anything, damn it! But we came back the day after to another GPS point and we found that he, thankfully, had killed a game animal and so far he is not considered as a problem cat. Hopefully he stays that way. We love this place and we have learned a lot! Kate and Matt are wonderful and we hope that we will return soon."

Veronica Theander, Josefina Karjalainen, Robin Hakenson and Beatrice Muotka.

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