Monday, April 13, 2009

All the lovlies!

Ok, so no new lab stuff...but I thought I could at least interest everyone with the names of all the cheetahs we have here at CCF. So here are their names:

Cleo, Luna, Ron, Harry, Hermoine, Amani, Jacomina, Minja, Emma, Livingston, Kayla, Fossie, Darwin, Kiana, Mendel, Little C, Omdillo, Chester, Xena, Anakin, Smartman, Blondman, Padme, Obe-Wan, Bella, Chewbaaka, Leia, Shadow, Cruise, Gremlin, Blondi, Dusty, Sandy, Solo, Nina, Josie, Chanel, Klein, Merlot, Hershey, Nestle, Tolberone, Samantha, and Tempesta.

There you go. All the cats :)

oh, and the babies - Soraya, Quasar, and Pheonix

Monday, April 6, 2009

New surroundings

The photo above was taken yesterday, while I was volunteering at the clinic.

Now is a VERY busy time of year for the CCF, because this is the time when all the cheetahs need their yearly checkup. For the next two weeks, we'll be processing 50 cats, at the rate of about 4 a day.

One of the poster motto's of the Peace Corps is that it's the Hardest Job You'll Ever Love. It only took a year and a half with a site change to REALLY feel that sentiment.

So before I really get into my research here, I'm still getting acclimated to living in this wonderful place. I've spent time working, playing, and spending time with the cheetahs, volunteering and aiding where I can, and meeting my new colleagues.

Most volunteers here at CCF only stay for a number of weeks, around 2 or 3. Staff is somewhat permanent, including myself. In fact, check this beauty out. They still haven't finished the update obviously, seeing how someone spelt my name wrong and haven't included my bio, but there I am: Assistant Conservation Laboratory Geneticist. I'm beaming.

My first genetics project actually has nothing to do with cheetahs, but white rhinos instead. See, there's a small localized white rhino population in South Africa, numbering about 30 rhinos. Using DNA samples shipped to us but the representative organization, it's my job to figure out who begot who, and who's related to who. Here's where it gets fun - it turns out that the main suspect for fathering up to half a dozen rhinos was shot and killed by a hunter several months back. Not only was he shot and killed, but someone had the audacity to have him stuffed and mounted. Which means now I've been scouring biochem and genetics articles looking for a method to extract DNA from an animal that's undergone taxidermy. Fun, no?

I'm in a good place.