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Catriona Carr follows a cheetah on foot

Catriona Carr follows a cheetah on foot.

The experience of following a cheetah on foot through the bush is mind blowing!

Life at the project is unpredictable and wonderful! Settling into bush camp on the first day after travelling through the reserve from Alldays is relaxing and beautiful.  Tents with an outside shower soon become home from home, with a large communal area to relax at the end of the day whilst the animals roam freely through camp.  The reserve itself has many different veldts from open plains to thick bush.

A large part of the project is to illustrate to farmers, through research, that cheetahs have a positive impact on the reserve. The data is collected by tracking collard cheetah using telemetry equipment. This experience of following a cheetah on foot through the bush is mind-blowing: sitting with a cheetah as she rests just metres away is a phenomenal experience and a memory which will last a life time.

Catriona uses telemetry to track cheetahLearning to read the bush is so interesting as Anthony, the amazing project co-ordinator, takes you through the tracks spread out on the trodden ground around you, whilst listening to the sound of the bush. Hearing a leopard so close to camp is such a fantastic feeling. Research is conducted on all sightings, kills, movements of animals and rainfall measurements. Responsibility can be given to students to track the cheetah using telemetry to locate their position and report back. Personally I felt such a sense of achievement being allowed to experience this.

Throughout the day fence checks are also completed. Retaining the cheetah within the reserve is vital to their survival as they may be persecuted if they go onto to neighbouring land, thus fence checks are essential and fun. Additionally, night drives present many incredible viewings with brown hyena being a favourite. I saw bat-eared fox and amazingly three male cheetahs relaxing on the fence line, just watch out for those stinkbugs!

The warmth and friendliness extended by the project co-ordinators and staff on the reserve soon have you feeling like your part of the family thus portraying a relaxed atmosphere to enjoy.  An exhilarating stay at the Zingela project with many unforgettable sights and laughs!!

Catriona Carr's placement in 2009 was arranged with African Conservation Experience.