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Diary of a Lost French Student

WRITTEN BY // Mélissa Boursier CATEGORIES // Capecheetah-blog | Inverdoorn-blog

Diary of a Lost French Student

After the sound of my alarm clock, it is very difficult to get up – but thinking of all the things I will do today, I find the courage to leave my bed. I meet some of my fellow students in the kitchen to have breakfast together. After brushing my teeth, we are finally ready to get down to business.

First, we have to go to the office for the morning meeting. We are told what to do for today, but very often the tasks evolve over the course of the day. Then we begin our morning routine: we fetch water and lucern for the rabbits; feed the rhinos and clean the tame cheetahs' camp before feeding them. The rhinos are called Livinia and Bundu. They are very cute, even Livinia who is naughty sometimes. They love to eat their rice with warm milk and then molasses. They don't have teeth in front so we can put our whole hand in their mouths!

Sometimes we have to fetch some straw or lucern bales with the golf car or the pick-up, but not today, phew! Now it is walking time. We take Iziba and Velvet, the two tame cheetahs, with us to the playground where we unleash them and let them play. Today, we brought a ball with us. Playing football with two cheetahs is quite amusing. Sometimes we bring a lure attached to a string instead and let them believe that they are hunting a big rabbit! But quickly the cheetahs get lazy so the games are replaced by cuddles and grooming. The cheetahs are very lady-like here! But they really deserve all this attention. They are very friendly, soothing and exciting! One day, Iziba may have a litter of very adorable cubs and it will be a great thing for the reserve and for the species in general. Here at Inverdoorn we are trying to improve the cheetah reproduction in captivity and preserve this wonderful cat. While the work we are doing is not a lot when compared to all the problems affecting the cheetahs, every little bit helps and only by everyone doing a little can these animals survive.

Being with the cheetahs is also a good excuse to have a photo-shoot. They are very photogenic and my photos of me cuddling a cheetah will be one of the best souvenirs I will bring back to France. As all good things have to end, we escort Iziba and Velvet back to their accommodation before having lunch around our big table. During meals I can discover typical food from here, but you can also find some which are commonly eaten in France too.

We can't escape from doing some cleaning, so today we clean the cheetah kitchen. But before that, we have some meat-work to do. On today's agenda it is donkey. For our lovely cheetahs we have to prepare proper meals. So we cut the muscles and some of the organs into little pieces and then freeze them in bags of one or two kilogrammes. This work is not always easy, but it is an important part of keeping captive cheetahs healthy. To maintain such animals behind fences we need to provide them proper nutrition and exercise. That is why, when the ground is not too wet, we conduct a "cheetah run" for our cheetahs. A lure is attached to a string and that string is pulled at full speed by a pulley connected to a battery. Thanks to this, the cheetahs can run as fast as they would in the wild and can keep their natural instinct for hunting. It is also very good for their morale.

Now it is time to say good-bye to the cheetahs. After fetching Coco, our macaw, from his perch by the tortoises, everybody heads home. We love to share dinner together. After eating, we enjoy playing some games. That is how I have learnt to play some new games, like Extreme Snap. We finish the day quietly in front of a movie. After all of this I really need to get some sleep, because tomorrow will be another busy day and we have a staff braai planned for the evening. A braai consists of roasted meats on a big fire with everyone sitting around enjoying themselves. Our last braai was a lot of fun and I had a great time with all the staff and students.




About the author

Mélissa Boursier

Mélissa Boursier

Mélissa Boursier is a fourth year veterinary student from France. She has a keen interest in wildlife and as part of her studies she is volunteering at Inverdoorn with the Western Cape Cheetah Conservation. She has experience working at European wildlife parks and is excited about working in South Africa. She is enjoying learning about the...

Reservations & Info

Inverdoorn Game Reserve


112 LOOP STREET 8001

Tel:  +27 (0)214 220 013
Fax: +27 (0)86 719 71 50


Meet The Team

  • Focus on: Rudia Achmat

    Focus on: Rudia Achmat

    Today we place “FOCUS ON” Rudia Achmat (26) from Cape Town. Rudia studied travel and tourism and today she can pass on her relevant experiences and advices to people wanting to follow...

  • 2 weeks among the marketing team

    2 weeks among the marketing team

    The last 2 weeks I had the opportunity to go to Cape Town and work in the Head office in the marketing department. I was so excited to go and see the other side of Inverdoorn. It was a...

  • Meeting the Volunteers: Annami Grabe

    Meeting the Volunteers: Annami Grabe

    Something I loved about meeting the volunteers and talking to them was the way they carefully contemplated each question I put forward to them – and none more so than Annami, a local...

  • Meeting the Volunteers: John McIlvaine

    Meeting the Volunteers: John McIlvaine

    I mentioned previously that the cheetah team could no longer be referred to as the cheetah girls, and this is due to the presence of John McIlvaine. Coming from Seattle in the United...

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Contact Infos

Inverdoorn Game Reserve

112 LOOP STREET 8001

Tel:  +27 (0)214 220 013
Fax: +27 (0)86 719 7150


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