(This post, written by CCF volunteer Patricia Manrique, originally appeared on the CCF blog. It has been reprinted here with permission.)
Volunteering at the Cheetah Conservation Fund is a different experience for every person. Personally, I came from Spain expecting two very clear things: 1) learning and 2) trying to help CCF in the wonderful work they do. I returned home not only satisfied in these aspects, but also in so many others that only an experience like this could provide.
Because I have always been passionate about cheetahs and have known about CCF for several years, I have dreamed to visit and see CCF in action. Finally, I went to Namibia for two months in late 2014. The Cheetah Conservation Fund is one of the world’s more complete wildlife conservation organizations and it’s very interesting to see how diverse projects like the Livestock Guarding Dog Programme, The Dancing Goat Creamery, and Bushblok can play such an important role in the conservation of wildlife. CCF definitely teaches us to be open minded about wildlife conservation.
As a veterinarian with background in research, my main duties while at CCF were very specific. My primary responsibility was to assistant the resident veterinarian, Dr. Mari-Ann DaSilva, in the clinic and to help with the biomedical research data. Thus, for me, it was the perfect combination between computer and clinical work. CCF animal care is based on prevention, and a major part of the veterinary work involves the guarding dogs and livestock at CCF. Because of that, during my stay only two cheetahs needed to be to be anesthetized: one because of an injury and the other for an incoming medical workup. I of course also had the opportunity to be involved with the daily tasks unrelated to veterinary care; things like cheetah husbandry, enclosure maintenance, and dog husbandry. Every task gives you a better understanding of how important every piece of the picture is and makes you fully appreciate your time at CCF.