The wonders of vegan cooking

If you have been reading my blog for a while now, you will have begun to realise that I may be what some people class as “accident prone”, at least when it comes to living in Africa.  The problem I find is that there are so many things here that try to harm or kill you!   Last week whilst idly walking home at night time, I was gazing up to the sky and looking out for shooting stars.  Alas, I didn’t see any shooting stars; what I did see is a rather large black and white ball-shaped animal scoot from next to my feet into the buses!  This happened to be a porcupine – an 80 cm long, 25 kg in weight large spiky rodent complete with quills that it sometimes likes to shake off when it feels in danger!  Fortunately for the porcupine and for myself, I marginally escaped treading on this poor creature.  I was, however, slightly shaken up whilst walking the rest of the way home and kept looking into the bushes around me just in case there were any other fiends out there ready to impale/bite/otherwise damage me!

After nearly 9 months of living and working at CCF, I haven’t once managed to go on the supposed best activity here: cheetah husbandry, where you get to feed the 45 resident cheetahs across the 46,000 hectare reserve here.  That was until last week, when I lucked out and was able to go along with a few of the husbandry team!  We had a fine morning feeding all the cheetahs and looking out for game along the way (herds of eland, zebra, giraffe and warthog to name a few).  Some of the cats here are so wild that if you get too close they certainly show you that you’ve overstepped your mark by hissing, spitting and stamping their feet!  Unfortunately we got a call a few days ago from a game rancher that was having problems with a cheetah eating his springbok.  Rather than shooting the animal, he asked if we could take the cheetah away.  So we now, sadly, have another wild cheetah currently living in captivity awaiting a suitable release site.    Alas, Namibia is running low on areas where we can safely release these animals to, so either they live out their days in captivity, which isn’t nice for a wild animal, or they get released onto farmland only to possibly be shot in the future.  Hopefully we can find this male a safe haven soon.
 As I have mentioned before on previous blogs, one thing I miss about living a “normal” life is the ability to cook!  So last weekend a few friends and I decided to show off our culinary skills and make both chocolate brownies AND homemade ice cream!  They turned out wonderfully and they compliment each other’s tastes very well.  With the remaining ice cream I had a great idea of making Coke floats – WOW how awesome were they?!  I feel this might be a regular recipe I will make from now on!

Also last weekend, after the fundraising gala in Windhoek, three people from Cheetah Outreach came to visit us: Annie the owner, Dawn the educational officer and Emily the cub raiser.  I knew them all from when I was there two years ago, but given the sheer amount of volunteers and interns they must have seen throughout that time, they were a bit confused as to who I was – despite the fact that I’d spent 6 months working with them remotely on my Masters project for their livestock guarding dog programme!  Once we had all reintroduced ourselves it was really nice to chat to them again to see how things were going.  I’m glad to hear that everything is going well there and I look forward to visiting them at some point in the future.
 Things are forever happening here at CCF, and this weekend is no exception.  We are hosting five very important guests that sit on the National Geographic Big Cat Initiative (a grant-giving body) – Dr Tom Lovejoy (who coined the phrase “biological diversity” and is involved with countless conservation initiatives), Dr Luke Hunter (President of Panthera), Dr Gus Mills (IUCN Chair of Hyenas), Dr Phoebe Barnhart (bird and climate change specialist who funnily enough I have already met whilst at Wildcliff in South Africa) and a veterinarian from the local area.  I have been privileged to meet and chat with them over the last few days, which has been fantastic – especially being that Luke is on the board for deciding who gets their scholarships, which I’m currently applying for!  We did a cheetah run with the Ambassador cheetahs in the Big Field yesterday and it was great to be out there with them.  We then got to go on a game drive afterwards, where we saw a lot of different types of animals including a small spotted genet.
  And talking about small spotted genets, a few days ago I was beckoned downstairs as there was a genet hiding under one of the feeding bowls that we use to feed the captive cheetahs!  What a cute little creature the genet is!  It had been gnawing on an old bone left there, so we are thinking about maybe leaving a daily bone out for it and seeing if it comes back!


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