This is a naked waterhole

I have been absent for a while. I was bouncing from place to place. My next project (after getting my computer up and running) is to sift through photos and share with you visual memories.

For now, I wanted to share with you what looking for animals feels like. This unedited photo (except for the words I stuck in) shows you what a bustling waterhole looks like from the naked eye, no zoom, no binoculars, just the eyes that you use to see. The animals are hard to see, but they are there! Let me know what you find 🙂



Washing a Water Hole

CCF has some man-made waterholes that are used to keep up one of the game farms. Game = animals such as warthog, giraffe, oryx, kudu, and eland. Anyway, they have man-made waterholes because the land is so dry and if the water holes weren’t there, the animals living in that area wouldn’t survive.

Guess what I got to do today? I got to wash a water hole. It. Was. Nasty. I felt like I was going to contract a disease by putting my mouth in animal slobber/algae water.

First of all, the water was green with algae. There was mud and scat (again!! what?) everywhere. Our first job was to get down on our hands and knees and scrub out all the algae from the water hole. Then we had to hoist the water out of the hole and scrub it again. We then had to rinse the edges of the hole to wash away all the scat. The worst part was the drain for the waterhole got stuck with sand. We literally had to put our fingers into the algae/sand tube and physically dig out the sand. I don’t even know. My hands were a mess. But hey! The animals were happy because the watering hole went from mud green to crystal clear!! Shall we say job well done?

Everything I do, I do it with poo

My working life at CCF centers around one thing: poo.

It’s all about Poop!

I apologize. The proper way to say poop is scat. My life in CCF is surrounded by scat day in and day out.

So much of the work here revolves scat. When you take care of animals, scat happens. Also, if you analyze scat, you get important information about the animal. You can find out their diet, possible diseases, and get a good sense of their health.

CCF has a nickname for scat. They call it “black gold.” Well, here is a list of all the ways that I deal with “black gold” on an almost daily basis:

1. Cleaning cheetah pens:

I take a rake, and rake the cheetah pens so that it is nice and neat for visitors to see. During this, if there is any scat on the ground, I pick it up and throw it away. Today’s scat was especially disgusting. It was sun-baked into the tree. I had to pry it off the tree. Once I lifted it, a swarm of ants came rushing out attacking me. Oh. Scat.

2. Cleaning goat/dog pens:

CCF has goats on its property because it is running a “model farm.” They use Anatolian shepherd dogs to guard the goats against predators such as cheetahs. This way, the local farmers will know not to shoot cheetahs. Well, goats and dogs make LOTS of scat. LOTS and LOTS. I do get to clean their pens too. With goats and dogs, you don’t get to pick up scat. You SHOVEL it off the ground. We take it out in wheel barrels.

3. Scat Detection Dogs:

CCF has trained dogs to sniff out wild cheetah scat. This is so that the labs can use the scat information for data and whatnot. I have gone on a scat detection session with Tiger, one of the scat detection dog. All you do is run after the dog as it sniffs through the wild African bush. Yup. Run. We also get to hide super smelly FROZEN cheetah scat in the wild while Tiger goes and looks for the scat. Part of training, I suppose.

4. Scat Walk:

CCF has some wild cheetahs. Every day we take a walk around some pens to see if we can gather wild cheetah scat. Once we found diarrhea on the floor and guess who had to pick it up? Gross.

5. Cheetah Scat Hair Burning:

We take scat that has been collected in the wild, we wash it (yes we do! in the laundry machine!) and then dry it so we can get all the tiny hairs in the scat. The hair is there because cheetahs are carnivores so they have animal fur in their scat. After drying, we find 10 little hairs to burn onto microscope slides. The smell, ladies and gentlemen, is something bordering on horrendous. At any rate, that’s scat hair burning for you!

When you work with animals, you work with scat. My life at CCF is all about poop. No lie.